MIA soldier who served in Korean War accounted for and buried in National Cemetery

Published 12:10 am Saturday, August 12, 2023

SALISBURY — Corporal Rex Powell was 18 when he was reported missing in action during the Korean War. In the 73 years since that date, the military had never discovered what happened to the teenager. In February of this year, remains of an unidentified soldier interred in the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii were confirmed to be Powell.

Cpl. Powell, who was born in Valdese, was laid to rest in the Salisbury National Cemetery Annex on Friday afternoon after a memorial service at J.C. Green & Sons Funeral Home in Thomasville.

According to a press release from the Department of Defense, Powell was reported missing in action in 1950 when his unit was attacked near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. There were no reports of Powell being a prisoner of war and no remains were identified as him. The Army issued a presumptive finding of death in 1953.

In 1954, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea returned the remains of more than 2,900 Americans during Operation GLORY. Powell was interred in Hawaii until his remains were disinterred as part of Phase Three of the Korean War Disinterment Project in 2021. They were identified earlier this year with dental, anthropological and mitochondrial DNA analysis.

Rolling Thunder, a group of bikers dedicated to making sure all prisoners of war and missing in action soldiers are accounted for, escorted the remains from the funeral home to the National Cemetery and remained through the service to honor Cpl. Powell.

Powell’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Cemetery of the Pacific. A rosette will be placed next to his name to mark that he is now accounted for.

More than 7,500 Americans who served in the Korean War remain unaccounted for, according to the DOD’s release.