Sunday, May 27 , 2018, 5:15 pm | Fair 65º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Santa Barbara Welcomes Home Remains of Army Sergeant Captured During Korean War

Thousands of people line Hollister Avenue to pay their respects to Wallace Dawson, who died in 1951 of malnutrition after being captured by enemy forces

Students and staff of San Marcos High School line Hollister Avenue on Friday to pay their respects during the procession for Army Sgt. Wallace Dawson of Santa Barbara, who went missing more than 60 years ago after being captured by enemy forces during the Korean War.
Students and staff of San Marcos High School line Hollister Avenue on Friday to pay their respects during the procession for Army Sgt. Wallace Dawson of Santa Barbara, who went missing more than 60 years ago after being captured by enemy forces during the Korean War. (Helen Murdoch photo)

Dawson
Sgt. Wallace Dawson

The remains of a U.S. serviceman who went missing more than 60 years ago after being captured by enemy forces during the Korean War were finally laid to rest at Goleta Cemetery on Friday morning, where the sergeant was given full military honors.

Army Sgt. Wallace Dawson of Santa Barbara was 21 at the time of his death from malnutrition in June 1951, after he was captured by enemy forces, according to the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, or DPAA.

In early February 1951, Dawson and elements of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division were occupying a position in the vicinity of Sang-sok, South Korea, when their unit was overwhelmed by Chinese forces. 

The attack caused the unit to withdraw south to a more defensible position, and Dawson was reported missing Feb. 14, 1951, according to a statement from the DPAA.

Two years later, during Operation Big Switch, returning American prisoners reported that Dawson was captured by enemy forces and died in June 1951 from malnutrition and was reported to have been buried at prisoner of war Camp 1 in Changsong, South Korea.

The remains of those who had died in the war were exchanged by the United Nations and Communist forces in 1954, and all of the remains were turned over to the Army Central Identification Unit in Kokura, Japan, for analysis. 

The unidentified remains were interred as unknown soldiers at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii

In 2014, the Department of Defense laboratory in Hawaii re-examined the records and scientists from DPAA, and the Armed Forces DNA Laboratory was able to identify Dawson's remains. Chest radiography and dental comparison and other circumstantial evidence that matched his records were used in the effort.

Dawson
The remains of Army Sgt. Wallace Dawson are removed from the hearse before being laid to rest Friday at Goleta Cemetery. (Cyndie Young photo)

The DPAA said that nearly 8,000 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War, and investigations are still ongoing to identify remains.

More than 2,000 students and staff of San Marcos High School lined Hollister Avenue on Friday to their respects during Sgt. Dawson's procession.

From Ward Drive to San Antonio Road, people lined each side of the roadway, waving American flags.

Dawson's high school class of 1949 came to the service, along with local veterans who fought in the Korean War. 

More than two dozen motorcycles from the Patriot Guard Riders also followed the procession, and two Santa Barbara County Fire trucks were also on hand to raise a large American flag in Dawson's honor.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >