Corporal, United States Army
Corporal Wirrick was a member of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.
He was listed as Missing in Action while fighting the enemy in South Korea on November 27, 1950. He was presumed dead on December 31, 1953.
Corporal Wirrick was awarded the Purple Heart,
the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations
Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential
Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.
Soldiers Missing in Action from the Korean War are Identified
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of three U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
They are Sergeant Donald C. Trent, of Crab Orchard, West Virginia; Corporal Robert K. Imrie, of Randolph, Massachusetts; and Corporal Samuel Wirrick of Lancaster, Pennsylvania; all U.S. Army. Imrie will be buried Monday at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.; and Trent and Wirrick will be buried at Arlington in October.
Representatives from the Army met with the next-of-kin of these men in their hometowns to explain the recovery and identification process and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the Secretary of the Army.
In late November 1950, these soldiers were members of the 2nd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, then operating south of the Chongchon River in North Korea.Their regiment's positions came under heavy attack by Chinese forces and the 2nd Battalion was forced to withdraw to positions near the town of Kujang.On Nov. 27, Imrie was killed in action, and Trent and Wirrick were reported missing.
In 2000, a joint U.S.-Democratic People's Republic of Korea-Korean People's Army team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), excavated a mass burial believed to contain the remains of U.S. soldiers who died near Kujang.The team found human remains, Wirrick's identification tag and other material evidence associated with U.S. Army infantry equipment.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA and dental comparisons in the identification of the remains.
For additional information on the Defense Department's
mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo
or call (703) 699-1420.
After 56 years, sadness, relief for vet's family
Lancaster native was listed as MIA since Korean War. DNA match confirms his ID.
By TOM MURSE
Courtesy of the Lancaster New Era
21 July 2007
The ominous news came in a brief Western Union telegram delivered to the Kast household on Cabbage Hill in early 1951: Army Corporal Samuel Wirrick, one of the family's 13 children, was missing in action in North Korea.
Since that day more than 56 years ago, Wirrick's brothers and sisters have grown up, gotten married and had their own children and grandchildren in Lancaster County — never knowing Samuel's fate.
In fact, long after the government classified him as "presumed dead" at the end of the Korean War, in 1953, they held hope for a miracle.
"All of us agreed, at one time or another, we were still hoping he was alive. We didn't know," said a younger sister, Kathy Reifsnyder, who is now 62 and lives in Pequea. "Chances were slim — actually none. But you always have that teeny, teeny hope.
"We always did until we found out different."
Wirrick's brothers and sisters found out different in April, when the Army notified them that military researchers had identified remains belonging to Samuel. The Department of Defense announced the positive identification on Friday.
The news brought sadness, but also a sense of relief, said Reifsnyder. "Everyone is very emotional about it," she said. "It was also a relief that he had been identified."
Wirrick was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. His unit came under heavy attack from Chinese forces near the Chongchon River in North Korea in late November 1950.
The unit withdrew to positions near the town of Kujang, but Wirrick was later reported missing in action.
His remains were recovered by a joint American-North Korean team in 2000 and eventually were identified through mitochondrial DNA and dental comparisons, as well as material remains and circumstantial evidence.
Wirrick will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in October.
Wirrick, who now would be 74, was the third-oldest of 13 children — seven girls and six boys. He was born on October 13, 1932.
His stepfather, John Kast, a carpenter, and his mother, Joanna, raised their large family on Fremont Street in the city's Cabbage Hill section before moving to Pequea.
As a teen, Wirrick was a skilled outdoorsman who loved hunting and fishing, an older brother remembers. When he had spare money, he would walk a few blocks to the old Strand Theater on Manor Street for the matinees.
Reifsnyder described her brother, who was 12 years her senior, as being eager to join the Army. He signed up for service in 1949 — when he was only 17.
"I guess he just wanted to go, because he lied about his age," Reifsnyder said. "He was only 17 when he went in and a little over 18 when he died."
Wirrick's brother John also served in Korea, in the Navy, and came back home to Lancaster County.
Reifsnyder was saddened because her parents, particularly her mother, never got to see closure. She died in 1988.
"When you say presumed dead with the Army, you didn't know. The definite part of it, I think she would have liked to know. She didn't specifically say it, but we all knew. We had no idea," she said.
"Presumed dead. What does that tell you? There was no body. Every once in a while we would all talk about it and say how we missed him and how we wish he was here," Reifsnyder said.
The remains of numerous other veterans who went missing in Korea have been identified in recent years.
In October, researchers identified the remains of Lancaster native Clarence R. Becker, who was taken captive when his convoy was ambushed south of Kunuri, North Korea, on Dec. 1, 1950. He died in a prisoner-of-war camp in 1951.
He was laid to rest at Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Lebanon County in April — ending more than five-and-a-half decades of questions from members of his family, who still live in Lancaster County.
Posted: 19 July 2007 Updated: 15 August 2007