The remains of a Korean War veteran from Somerville who died after being taken prisoner by enemy forces in the conflict in 1951 will return home Saturday, with a burial in his home city scheduled for June 22, officials said.
In a statement, the city of Somerville identified the veteran as Army Sergeant George Schipani, who was 19 when he died. A funeral service is scheduled for June 22 at Keefe Funeral Home in Arlington, followed by a burial at Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Somerville.
“It’s an honor to be a part of Sergeant Schipani’s final journey home to Somerville,” said Bryan Bishop, Somerville’s director of veterans affairs, in the statement. “His story is among countless others of America’s youth who answered the call to protect and defend democracy and freedom. We will always remember the sacrifice Sergeant Schipani and those who served with him made for our Country and we will never forget their bravery and devotion to duty.”
In a prior release in May, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, or DPAA, provided details of Schipani’s military service and the eventual identification of his remains.
In late 1950, the agency said, Schipani “was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, when his unit took part in the Battle of Unsan, North Korea. Early in the morning of Nov. 2, 1950, Schipani’s battalion was struck by enemy units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces. After several days of intense fighting, survivors escaped to friendly lines. Schipani was reported missing in action as of Nov. 2, 1950.”
Following the war, returning prisoners reported that Schipani had been captured and sent to Pyoktong, Prisoner of War Camp 5, where he died in February or March 1951, according to the statement.
“Although the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service planned to recover American remains that remained north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone after the war, administrative details between the United Nations Command and North Korea complicated recovery efforts,” the release said. “An agreement was made and in September and October 1954, in what was known as Operation Glory, remains were returned. Remains that were unable to be identified were buried as Unknowns in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, including a set of remains designated Unknown X-13448 Op Glory.”
Progress was made last year.
“In July 2018, DPAA disinterred Unknown X-13448 Op Glory from the Punchbowl, and sent the remains to the laboratory for analysis,” the release said. “To identify Schipani’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. DPAA is grateful to Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission.”