White River man identified as Korean War POW

WHITE RIVER, S.D. (KOTA TV) - A White River man who died in prisoner of war camp during the Korean War will be buried in his hometown Wednesday, Oct. 25.

Army Sgt. Philip J. Iyotte was 21 years old when he was captured by Chinese forces. He was initially listed as missing in action on Feb. 9, 1951.

The 8th Army soldier was taking part in Operation Thunderbolt, which was from Jan. 25 to Feb. 1, 1951.

Operation Thunderbolt's objective was to conduct a reconnaissance in force across the 8th Army front, to advance 30 miles to the south bank of the Han River. Sometime during the engagement, Iyotte was captured and moved to Camp 1 at Changsong.

Following the war, several returning American prisoners of war reported that Iyotte died sometime around Sept. 10, 1951 and was buried at the main camp.

After the war, the U.S. attempted to recover remains of military people killed north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Iyotte's remains were not included and he was declared non-recoverable. A set of remains marked as "Smith, Paul R." and labeled Unknown X-14265 was processed for identification, but an association could not be made and they were returned to the United States for burial.

After a thorough historical and scientific analysis, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency requested the exhumation of 22 unresolved individuals, including Iyotte. Unknown X-14265 was disinterred from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, on May 8, 2017 and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

To identify Iyotte's remains, scientists from DPAA used laboratory analysis, including dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, all which matched Iyotte's records; as well as circumstantial evidence.

Today, 7,718 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.

Iyotte'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.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency or on Facebook.