Catlin, Cpl. David L.

May 15, 2012


The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Cpl. David L. Catlin, 19, of Lockney, Texas, will be buried May 19, in his hometown. In late November 1950, Catlin and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team, known as “Task Force Faith,” were advancing along the eastern banks of the Chosin Reservoir, in North Korea, when they came under attack. On Dec. 2, 1950, Catlin, along with many other Americans, was listed as missing in action as a result of the heavy fighting.

In 1953, returning Americans who had been held as prisoners of war reported that Catlin had been captured by the Chinese during a battle in December 1950. He died several months later as a result of malnutrition while being held as a prisoner of war, near the northern end of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea; an area known as “Death Valley.”

Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the United States 208 boxes of remains believed to contain the remains of 200-400 U.S. servicemen. North Korean documents, turned over with some of the boxes, indicated that some of the human remains were recovered from the area where Catlin had reportedly died in captivity, in North Korea.

To identify the remains, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence, and forensic identification tools such as dental records, and mitochondrial DNA – which matched Catlin’s cousin.

Today, more than 7,900 Americans remain unaccounted-for from the Korean War.

Identifications continue to be made from the remains that were returned to the United States, using forensic and DNA technology.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at or call (703) 699-1169.

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