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Henry Lewis Helms was a United States Army soldier declared missing in action on December 2, 1950 during the Korean War. His remains were returned to US custody on July 27, 2018 and identified on April 16, 2020.

Background

Henry Helms was born to Green and Mary Helms in Collbran, Alabama. The family moved to Rinnggold, Georgia in the 1940s. At some point he enlisted in the United States Army and served through the last year of World War II. On August 12, 1948, he reenlisted in the army. He became a Corporal of Company D, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.

Korean War

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. Helms likely participated in this battle, but details of his participation are unknown.

Helms' 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, Helms was reported as missing in action on December 2, 1950. Over seventeen thousand of United Nations soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing and between forty-nine thousand and sixty thousand Chinese soldiers were killed or wounded.

Aftermath

Helms 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.

Helms 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. He is memorialized in Court 6 of the Honolulu Memorial Courts of the Missing in Honolulu, Hawaii and at the National Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Identification

On July 27, 2018, following a US and North Korea joint-summit between President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un the month before, the North Korean government returned fifty-five boxes of unknown US soldiers to US 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 historical evidence, Henry Lewis Helms' remains were identified on April 16, 2020. The identification was announced on April 30, 2021. By the time he was identified, only one of his sisters, Evelyn Snyder, and numerous nephews and nieces were still alive.

Helms was buried with full military honors on May 22, 2021 at the Nathan Anderson Historic Cemetery in Ringgold.

Sources

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