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Remains of Army POW from Korean War to be laid to rest in McComb

Photo courtesy of Thomas Bessonette/Facebook

The remains of a Mississippi native who died as a prisoner of war during the Korean War will be laid to rest in McComb on Saturday after being reported missing for over seven decades.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Ellis Coon’s remains were discovered on September 27, 2022.

SFC Coon, who joined the military while living in Osyka, was a member of C Battery, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division in 1950. He was reported missing in action on December 1, 1950, after his unit was engaged in the Battle of Ch’ongch’on in the vicinity of Kunu-ri, North Korea.

Using information provided by repatriated POWs after the war, it was determined that SFC Coon had been a Prisoner of War in Camp #5 and died of malnutrition and lack of medical care around February 14, 1951. The Army issued a presumptive finding of death in March 1954 and declared SFC Coon non-recoverable in January 1956.

“He has no family. He married his wife one month before he was sent overseas,” Roger Barrett, the Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders of the Mid-South, explained. “She had passed away many years ago. Of course, they didn’t have any kids. He’s got one known relative that lives down there in McComb.”

On December 21, 1993, North Korea unilaterally turned over 34 boxes of remains believed to be of U.S. service members who had died during the war. Among the remains were some reportedly recovered from Tongju-ri, Pyokdong County, North Phyongan Province — the same area as POW Camp #5.

Scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis and circumstantial evidence to identify SFC Coon’s remains, while other scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA  and autosomal DNA analysis.

SFC Coon’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific — also known as the Punchbowl Cemetery — along with the others who are still missing from the Korean War. A rosette will now be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

His remains, which arrived at Louis Armstrong Airport International Airport at approximately 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, will be escorted by The Patriot Guard Riders of Louisiana and law enforcement to the Mississippi Welcome Center in Osyka.

After that, The Patriot Guard Riders of Mississippi and law enforcement will then escort SFC Coon to honor him and his family to McComb.

“We’re going to escort him this afternoon to McComb and go back Saturday and bury him,” Barrett said. “We’re going to be his family.”

The funeral service for SFC Ellis Coon will be at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 29 at Craft-Dillon Funeral Home in McComb. SFC Coon will be laid to rest will full military honors following the service.

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