Ralph S. Boughman was an American serviceman who was declared Missing in Action on December 2, 1950 during the Korean War. His remains were returned to U.S. custody on July 27, 2018 and identified April 20, 2020. He was identified alongside Howard Miller, who was killed in the Battle of Tarawa in 1943.
Ralph Boughman was born to J.Q. Baughman on April or June 19, 1929 in Union, South Carolina. He had two sisters and seven brothers. Before enlisting in the military, he worked with his father in the sawmill business.
Boughman enlisted in the United States Army on August 10, 1948 at Greenville, South Carolina. His was service number is 14283720. After training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, he was assigned as a Corporal, specialty being Cook, to Company B, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry 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. Boughman likely participated in this battle, but details of his participation are unknown.
The 7th Infantry took part in the Second Battle of Seoul shortly after between September 22 and September 28, 1950. United Nations forces captured the city of Seoul, the three hundred and sixty-three Americans and South Koreans killed and a thousand six hundred and thirty-three wounded and thousands of North Koreans killed, wounded, and captured. Boughman's regiment was in the battle, crossing the Ungi River and icy banks of the Yalu River. Boughman personally was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge for his "satisfactory performance of duty during ground combat against armed forces in the Seoul, Korea area."
Boughman'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, Boughman 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.
Boughman'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.
Boughman 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.
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.
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 historical evidence, the remains were identified as belonging to Ralph S. Boughman on April 20, 2020. The identification was announced on March 1, 2021.
Boughman will be buried in his hometown on May 15, 2021.