The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, recently accounted-for from the Korean War, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Sgt. Thomas E. Zimmer, 19, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will be buried September 30 in his hometown. In late November 1950, Zimmer was a member of Battery A, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when Chinese People's Volunteer Forces (CPVF) attacked the RCT and forced the unit to withdraw to Hagaru-ri. Many Soldiers became surrounded and attempted to escape, but were captured or killed. Overnight on December 5, a large Chinese force attacked the Hagaru-ri perimeter held by the survivors of the RCT. Zimmer was subsequently declared missing in action as a result of the battle that occurred Dec. 6, 1950.
Zimmer's name did not appear on any lists provided by the CPVF or the Korean People's Army as a prisoner of war, and no returning American prisoners were able to provide any information concerning Zimmer. Based on the lack of information, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Dec. 31, 1953.
In August and September 2004, a joint U.S. and Korean People's Army recovery team conducted a Joint Recovery Operation in the vicinity of the East Chosin Reservoir, where Zimmer went missing. The team recovered possible human remains and sent them to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.
To identify Zimmer’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched his family, as well as anthropological analysis, which matched his records; and circumstantial evidence.
Today, 7,727 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using advances in technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered by American teams. Zimmer’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.