FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear has directed that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff on Friday, June 20, in honor of a Kentucky soldier who died while a prisoner of war during the Korean War and whose remains were recently identified.
The funeral for Sgt. Paul M. Gordon will be at 11 a.m. June 20 at Sherman Baptist Church in Dry Ridge, followed by interment at 1 p.m. at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North in Williamstown. Gov. Beshear encourages individuals, businesses, organizations and government agencies to join in lowering flags in tribute on that day.
According to the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), Sgt. Gordon, 20, of Dry Ridge, was assigned to Company H, 2nd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.
In 1951, Gordon was deployed in the vicinity of Wonju, South Korea. On Jan. 7, 1951, following a battle against enemy forces, Gordon was listed as missing in action. In September 1953, as part of a prisoner exchange, known as Operation Big Switch, returning U.S. service members reported that Gordon had been captured by the Chinese during that battle and taken to a prisoner of war camp, where he died in June 1951.
Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the United States remains of U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents also turned over indicated that some of the remains were recovered from a POW camp in North Hwanghae Province, near the area where Gordon was believed to have died.
To identify Gordon’s remains, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including DNA comparisons. Two types of DNA were used, mitochondrial DNA, which matched his sister and brother, and Y-STR DNA, which matched his brother.
Kentucky flag status information is available at http://governor.ky.gov/Pages/flagstatus.aspx.