Man's remains at center of POW controversy

SHOREHAM The remains of a Korean War-era prisoner of war from Shoreham are the focal point of a controversy brewing between the U.S. and China. According to a June 19 Associated Press news report, After decades of denials, the Chinese have acknowledged burying an American prisoner of war in China, telling the U.S. that a teenage soldier captured in the Korean War died a week after he became mentally ill. The case of U.S. Army Sgt. Richard G. Desautels, of Shoreham, now raises concerns about the fate of other Korean War-era POWs, according to the A.P. report. China had long insisted that all POW questions were answered at the conclusion of the war in 1953 and that no Americans were moved to Chinese territory from North Korea, the report said. Chinese authorities gave Pentagon officials intriguing new details about Desautels in a... meeting in Beijing, saying they had found a complete record of 9-10 pages in classified archives. According to the Chinese, Sgt. Desautels became mentally ill on April 22, 1953, and died on April 29, 1953, a secondary summary of the POW incident reported. The Vermont soldier was apparently buried in a Chinese cemetery, however, the grave was relocated years later. Sadly, there is no record of where Desautels remains are located today. Desautels burial site is believed to be in the urban area of Shenyang, also known as the City of Mukden. Mukden is several hundred miles from the North Korean frontier; it is believed to be the locale of several primitive POW camps that held several hundred American POWs. Desautels was an 18-year old corporal, a member of A Company, 2nd Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit encountered a swarming Chinese assault near Kunu-ri, North Korea, on Dec. 1, 1950, according to the A.P. report. Desautels was marched north to a POW compound known as Camp 5, near Pyoktong, on the North Korean side of the border with China. Gen. Mark W. Clark, the U.S. commander at the end of the Korean War, believed that hundreds of Americans were held captive by both China and North Korea well after the war; they were used as human chess pieces to ensure China got a seat on the U.N. Security Council, Gen. Clark claimed.

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