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Eldert John Beek was an American serviceman who was declared missing in action on December 1, 1950 during the Korean War. His remains were returned to U.S. custody on July 27, 2018 and identified April 14, 2020.

Military service

Eldert Beek was born on May 7, 1930 in George, Iowa to John and Minnie Beek. At some point, Beek joined the United States Army from Sibley, Iowa and was assigned a Corporal to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.

The 7th Infantry Division took part of the Battle of Inchon AKA the Inchon Landing between September 10 and September 19, 1950. United States and South Korean forces invaded and had taken over the city of Inchon. This battle was a strategic victory for the United Nations Command that turned the tide of the war in their favor. It is likely Beek took part in this battle, as his regiment landed in Seoul, South Korea on September 17th, but the extent of his participation is unknown.

Beek's unit took part in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, which between November 27 and December 13, 1950, the North Korean Korean People's Army and the Chinese People's Volunteer Army recovered northeastern Korea and caused the UNC to retreat. In the ensuing chaos, Johnson was reported as killed in action on December 1, 1950, but his body was not recovered.

Aftermath

Beek's was not among the remains and Prisoners of War recovered by the end of the Korean War on July 27, 1953. He was listed as presumed dead on December 31, 1953. He was posthumously awarded the following awards: Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's Badge, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Korea War Service Medal. Additionally, his name is featured in Court 4 of the Honolulu Memorial Courts of the Missing in Honolulu, Hawaii and the National Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. He also has a grave in Evergreen Cemetery in George.

Identification

On July 27, 2018, following a U.S. and North Korea joint-summit between then-President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un the month before, the North Korean government returned fifty-five boxes of unknown U.S. soldiers to U.S. custody. They arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii on August 1, 2018. One of the boxes held remains recovered by the North Korean Korean People's Army at Sinhungri, South Hamgyong Province, North Korea. Scientists at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis to identify the remains.

Based on these DNA analysis techniques and anthropological analysis, the remains were identified as belonging to Eldert John Beek on April 14, 2020. The identification was announced on May 10, 2021.

Beek will be buried in Evergreen Cemetery in George next to his parents on June 14, 2021.

Sources

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