BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge soldier who was captured by the Chinese and taken as a prisoner during the Korean War 63 years ago is now coming home. The remains of Army Sgt. Clement Thibodeaux Jr. will be brought back to Baton Rouge where he will be buried next to his grandfather on July 26, 2013 in Church Point, LA.
Thibodeaux was 18-years-old when he was captured. According to the Department of Defense POW/Mission Personnel Office, the 25th Infantry Division and 35th Infantry Regiment in late Nov. 1950 were fighting with units of the Chinese army in North Korea.
During the fight, and the subsequent withdrawal by U.S. forces, the 25th ID suffered extensive casualties and numerous men were taken captive by the Chinese.
It was during this withdrawal, Thibodeaux was captured by enemy forces.
Three years later, in 1953, returning U. S. personnel told debriefers that Thibodeaux had been captured and taken by enemy forces to a POW camp known as "Death Valley." Soldiers also stated that in Jan. 1951 Thibodeaux died from malnutrition and pneumonia. His remains were not among those returned by communist forces in 1954.
In 2005, a joint U.S. and Democratic People's Republic Korea (D.P.R.K.) team excavated a site in Unsan County in North Korea and found multiple remains. The remains subsequently were brought back to the U.S. and were sent for scientific identification.
Scientists used circumstantial evidence, dental records and Thibodeaux's brother's DNA to identify the remains.
More than 7,900 Americans remain unaccounted-for from the Korean War.
For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.