The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that it had identified the remains of Army Cpl. Luther H. Story, decades after he was killed during the Korean War and subsequently awarded the Medal of Honor.
On September 1, 1950, Story was 19 years old and a weapons squad leader with Alpha Company, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. His squad was in a fighting position overlooking the Naktong River in South Korea, but other nearby attacks had already left them partially cut off and in danger of being surrounded. Witnessing a group of enemy soldiers attempting to cross the river, Story personally manned a machine gun and killed or wounded an estimated 100 enemy soldiers.
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As a truck carrying additional troops and ammunition drove up a road towards Story’s squad, he collected grenades from his men and was seen tossing them at the vehicle while exposing himself to enemy fire. While Story’s unit was withdrawing under heavy fire, he was wounded.
“Realizing that his wounds would hamper his comrades, he refused to retire to the next position but remained to cover the company’s withdrawal,” reads his Medal of Honor citation. “When last seen he was firing every weapon available and fighting off another hostile assault.”
Story’s father was presented with his posthumous Medal of Honor in 1951. In September 1953, with Story’s body never having been recovered and no record of him as a prisoner of war existing, he was declared dead by the Army. Three years later, his remains were determined to be unrecoverable.
For decades, that was the official record.
About six weeks after Story’s death, though, 11 sets of remains were found around the area Story had been killed in action. Eight were identified, but three others – including one designated “X-260 Tanggok” – were transported to Hawaii. There, they were interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.
In 2018, the DPAA began a project to identify some of the 652 unknown soldiers killed during the Korean War and buried at the Punchbowl. In 2021, X-260 Tanggok was one of the sets of remains selected.
Using “dental and anthropological analysis” along with mitochondrial DNA analysis, DPAA scientists were able to confirm that X-260 Tanggok was, in fact, Cpl. Luther H. Story.
In a joint statement, the White House and the South Korean president stated that “The supreme sacrifice and heroism of Corporal Luther Story is illustrative of the freedom, security, and prosperity the South Korean people have today.”
Story’s identification comes just a few days after another 2nd Infantry Division soldier, Sgt. Richard E. Crotty, was also identified. Crotty was reported missing in action near Yongsan, South Korea, on the same day that Story was killed.
Story’s remains will be buried in Andersonville, Georgia on May 29, with a rosette placed next to his inscription on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific monument in Honolulu, indicating that he has finally been found.
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