Coming home: Remains of MIA Korean War veteran returned

A soldier who was missing for nearly 71 years will finally be laid to rest in his Kentucky hometown of Dorton, in Pike County.

Corporal Burl Mullins served during World War II and died in the line of duty during the Korean War at the age of 23. He was a member of the Heavy Mortar Company, Third Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, Seventh Infantry Division.

Mullins was reported MIA on Nov. 30, 1950, after his unit was attacked by enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. He was taken as a prisoner of war and was never heard from again.

Following a June 2018 summit between then-president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, 55 boxes containing the remains of American service members killed during the Korean War were turned over to the U.S. The remains were delivered to a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) lab at the Pearl Harbor-Hickman joint base in Hawaii. On May 20, 2021, it was announced Mullins was among the remains returned, and that he was accounted for on April 23.

On Tuesday, June 22, Mullins’ body was finally returned home. Starting from the Marathon station on 1900 Newton Pike in Lexington at 10 a.m., the escort drove 228 miles to Dorton. Local first responders took to the I-64 bypass, using a fire truck to hoist a large American flag. Officers, firefighters, EMS, and civilians paid their respects as Mullins’ escort passed below.

The date for his burial has not been decided. Burl Mullins’ name, along with others still missing from the Korean War, is recorded on the Courts of the Mission at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been found. Currently, 7,556 Korean War veterans are still unaccounted for.