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This missing Korean War Medal of Honor recipient is accounted for after 73 years

Miguel Ortiz Avatar
story medal of honor

Part of the Soldier’s Creed of the U.S. Army is “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” Conflicting with that affirmation is “I will always place the mission first.” During the Korean War, Cpl. Luther H. Story placed the mission first to save his comrades, forcing them to leave him behind. He was listed as Missing, Presumed Dead and his remains were determined to be nonrecoverable. However, on April 6, 2023, Cpl. Story’s remains were positively identified and the Medal of Honor recipient was finally accounted for.

yongsan korean war medal of honor
U.S. troops cross rice paddies at Yongsan, 1950 (U.S. Army)

A 19-year-old from Americus, Georgia, Story was assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. On September 1, 1950, the 9th Infantry’s thin line at Yongsan, along the Pusan Perimeter, was penetrated by three enemy divisions. A Company held off multiple charges and was bypassed by the enemy assault. However, they were in danger of being cut off from friendly lines and overrun.

As a weapons squad leader, then-Pvt. First Class Story was heavily engaged in fending off the initial attacks and moved his squad to a position overlooking the Naktong River. From there, Story saw an overwhelming enemy force cross the river to attack A Company. Taking the machine gun from his wounded gunner, Story rained fire on the advancing enemy, killing or wounding an estimated 100 soldiers. Still, A Company was in danger of encirclement and the company commander ordered a withdrawal.

During the withdrawal, Story noticed an enemy vehicle loaded with troops and towing an ammunition trailer approach. Calling for his comrades to take cover, he stood exposed in the middle of the road and hurled grenades at the truck. When he ran out of grenades, Story crawled to his squad and retrieved more before resuming his attack on the enemy vehicle.

9th infantry troops
9th Infantry troops prepare for an enemy attack across the Naktong River (U.S. Army)

A Company continued its withdrawal, but was forced to deploy in a rice field and hold off a superior pursuing enemy force. Story was wounded but continued to rally his squad and repel the attack. As the company attempted to pull back across the rice field, Story realized that his wounds were severe and he would slow the withdrawal. Refusing to fall back, he remained in his fighting position to cover the rest of the company. Story was last seen firing every weapon available to fight off another enemy assault. He was posthumously promoted to corporal and awarded the Medal of Honor for his selfless heroism.

In October 1950, 11 remains were recovered near Sangde-po, South Korea, and eight were identified. One unidentified set of remains was thought to be Story, but the Central Identification Unit in Japan did not have enough data to positively ID him. The remains, along with other unidentified Korean War remains, were transported to Hawaii and buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

korean war medal of honor recipient Story
Story was just 19 when he gave his life for his comrades (DPAA)

In June 2021, the remains suspected to be Story were disinterred and sent to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for analysis. Scientists used dental, anthropological and mitochondrial analysis to identify Story on April 6, 2023. Finally accounted for, he will be buried in Andersonville, Georgia, on May 29, 2023.