Remains of Eastern Kentucky Korean War veteran escorted home on Wednesday

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Published: May. 11, 2022 at 2:13 PM EDT
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WHITESBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Officials with the Whitesburg Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 5829 told WYMT the remains of a Letcher County soldier will be escorted home on Wednesday.

Army Cpl. Donald L. Menken, 21, of Whitesburg, Kentucky, was killed during the Korean War and was accounted for on February 2, 2022, according to The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

”He was my idol growing up,” said his nephew, Fulton Comb, who grew up in Whitesburg. “He was a little bit older, but we grew up together, so we were actually closer than brothers most of our lives until he left.”

Menken’s remains will travel from Louisville to the Everidge Funeral Home in Letcher County. The procession will travel through Campton, Jackson and Hazard and will be escorted by a biker group, Rolling Thunder.

”He is where where he belongs, with his family, with his community when he left,” said Todd Matonich, the President of Kentucky Chapter Five of Rolling Thunder. “It’s very humbling to have him home safe and sound.”

Officials with VFW Post 7387 in Hazard said there will be a gathering to watch the procession along the KY-15 bypass between 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The procession will meet emergency services personnel at the Knott - Letcher County line along KY-15 and continue through Whitesburg to the funeral home.

According to a news release from DPAA, Menken was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.

He was reported missing in action after being wounded on June 10, 1953, at Outpost Harry in what is now the demilitarized zone.

His nephew said it was some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

”Donny refused to go,” Combs said. “He stayed and fought for three more hours. He was stubborn and he was not going to leave, so he didn’t and it ended up costing him his life.”

He was declared killed in action on June 11, 1954, and designated unidentifiable in 1956.

The American Graves Registration Service Group (AGRSG) found a set of remains that were designated as Unknown X-6039.

The remains were transported with all unidentified Korean War remains and buried as “Unknown” at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.

X-6039 was disinterred on January 28, 2019, as part of Phase 1 of the Korean War Identification Project managed by DPAA historians and anthropologists.

DPAA scientists used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence, to identify the remains.

VFW Post 5829 officials said Menken’s remains will be buried following a service at First Baptist Church Whitesburg at Green Acres Cemetery on May 14.

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