The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, recently accounted-for from the Korean War, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Pfc. Walter C. Hackenberg, 22, of Snyder County, Pennsylvania, will be buried November 2 in the Middleburg, Pennsylvania. In late April 1951, Hackenberg was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, along a defensive line west of Chorw’on, South Korea, when his unit was attacked by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Force (CPVF) and Korean People’s Army (KPA.) American troops were able to hold the lines, and when the attacks subsided, a patrol went to determine possible enemy river-crossing points. Enemy forces engaged the patrol with mortars and small arms fire, forcing the patrol to withdraw. Hackenberg could not be accounted for at the end of the battle, and he was declared missing in action as of April 25, 1951.
Following the war, several returning American prisoners of war reported that Hackenberg had been captured by the CPVF and died in the summer of 1951 while being held at a prisoner of war camp. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Sept. 9, 1951.
In 1954, United Nations and communist forces exchanged the remains of war dead in what came to be called “Operation Glory.” All remains recovered in Operation Glory were turned over to the Army’s Central Identification Unit for analysis.
On Sept. 7, 1954, a set of remains reportedly recovered from a prisoner of war cemetery at Camp 1 and 3, Changsong, North Korea, were sent to the Central Identification Unit in Kokura, Japan, for attempted identification. The set of remains was designated “X-14266” and was transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu and interred as a Korean War Unknown.
After a thorough historical and scientific analysis, it was determined that X-14266 could likely be identified. After receiving approval, X-14266 was disinterred on June 13, 2016, and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.
To identify Hackenberg’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this recovery.
Today, 7,718 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams. Hackenberg’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.