Remains of a Jasper County resident who went missing in action during a major battle in 1950 during the Korean War are coming home to be buried with family later this month.
The family of Sergeant Loyd Albert Alumbaugh is planning a memorial service and burial for June 25 with his parents and other members of his family in a cemetery in Reeds.
The U.S. Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced earlier this month that the Alumbaugh’s remains were among 55 boxes of remains returned to the U.S. in 2018 following a summit between former President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.
“The remains arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii on Aug. 1, 2018, and were subsequently accessioned into the DPAA laboratory for identification,” the Department of Defense said in a written release. “To identify Alumbaugh’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
Alumbaugh’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, along with the others who are still missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.”
Connie Hoover, a niece of Loyd Alumbaugh said the family had been notified last year that his remains had been identified, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed getting those remains back to Jasper County.
Hoover, the daughter of Loyd Alumbaugh’s older brother, the late John Alumbaugh, said she doesn’t know of anyone alive now who would have remembered her uncle, but the family spoke of him often and worked to get him home.
“It’s kind of bitter sweet,” Hoover said. “Dad passed away in 2011 but I wish he had lived to see that he made it back. Mainly what I remember was just, he was well liked and he was a good brother. My family grew up over in Reeds and they had tough times and a lot of kids. Then they lost their mother when they were real young.”
Missing in Action
Loyd Alumbaugh joined the U.S. Army in 1948 and was less than a month from his 22nd birthday when he went missing at the start of the bitter Battle of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea on Nov. 28, 1950.
The Battle of the Chosin Reservoir happened when Chinese Communist soldiers ambushed units with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps after United Nations forces had driven the North Korean Army back to the Yalu River, the boundary between North Korea and China.
Loyd Alumbaugh served with the Ambulance Company, 7th Medical Battalion, 7th Infantry Division.
The Department of Defense said Alumbaugh’s remains could not be recovered before his unit was forced to retreat in the face of vastly larger Chinese forces and a bitter winter with sub-zero temperatures.
The battle started around Nov. 27, 1950 and lasted into mid December 1950 when the American and Allied soldiers were evacuated from a North Korean port after a harrowing fighting retreat through mountainous territory in blinding winter conditions
Exactly what happened to Alumbaugh is shrouded in mystery, but Alumbaugh has been remembered a few times over the years by other veterans of the battle, who called themselves the “Chosin Few” during reunions in Carthage.
Connie Hoover said the family always assumed Loyd was killed at the Chosin Reservoir, and the recovery of his remains confirms it.
“We always knew that that’s probably where he was and what happened, then for the DNA to actually prove, yes, this is him and he was there and lost his life that day fighting for our country,” Hoover said. “It’s a little emotional for me because I’ve heard of him from the time I was born. I wish my dad was here to know that he’s coming back home. They all loved him and missed him. They couldn’t believe he was sent over there in those circumstances and didn’t return.”