A corporal from the 114th Graves Registration Co. fills out a Form 52B, giving information regarding a deceased American soldier at the U.N. Cemetery at Taegu. Nearby are a cross, a triangular unidentified soldier marker, and small bottle containing Form 1042 which is buried with the casualty. (US Army Photo, January 23, 1951)
At the beginning of the war, the nearest U.S. Army mortuary affairs unit was the 108th Graves Registration Platoon in Yokohama, Japan, which was searching for the remains of missing World War II American airmen. The 108th was reconfigured as the 114th Graves Registration Company and deployed to establish temporary cemeteries at Hungnam, Pyongyang, and Suchon as the fighting continued. Supporting the 2nd Infantry Division was the Graves Registration Section of the 2nd Quartermaster Company, which collected the remains of Allied and American soldiers to be further processed by the 148th Graves Registration Company. When UN forces launched the Inchon Invasion in September 1950, a platoon from the 565th Graves Registration Company accompanied them. Other mortuary affairs units included the 293rd Graves Registration Company, activated in April 1951. It was difficult to recover remains and conduct burials in Korea, due to the rugged geography and harsh climate, and the threat of unexploded ordnance and booby-traps.
Construction of the Tanggok cemetery
Construction of the United Nations Military Cemetery (UNMC) at Tanggok began on January 18, 1951 and was carried out by hand-labor over a 28.2 hectares (70 acres) site. It was dedicated by General Matthew Ridgway on April 6, 1951. Graves Registration units then concentrated American and allied remains at Tanggok before they were permanently buried or repatriated. Besides burial services, refrigeration units to store remains were added, as were cremation facilities. Today the 2,300 graves in the cemetery are set out in 22 sites designated by the nationalities of the buried service members.
Following the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement in July 1953, the United Nations Command sought to recover bodies interred in North Korean territory. Cemeteries for POWs in North Korea were established at 16 POW camps. From September to October 1954, the resulting exchange of casualties, dubbed Operation Glory, between United Nations forces and the North Koreans resulted in 4,219 remains being recovered, of which 1,275 were non-US casualties. (Also exchanged were the remains of approximately 14,000 North Korean and Chinese casualties.) From 1950 to 1954, approximately 11,000 casualties were interred at UNMC, which was maintained by the United States Army Graves Registration Agency.
Foundation as a United Nations cemetery and transfer to CUNMCK
It was officially established as the United Nations Memorial Cemetery on December 15, 1955 with the passage of UN General Assembly Resolution 977(X). Following the war, the cemetery was funded from the United Nations budget, but the Sino-Soviet world objected to this funding. In 1973, the cemetery was transferred from the UN to the Commission for the United Nations Memorial Cemetery (CUNMCK), which is composed of representatives from the 11 countries who have servicemembers buried there.
Interfaith memorial chapel – built by the United Nations Command in 1964
Main gate – designed by Korean architect Kim Joong-up and built by the city of Busan in 1966. The end of the eight pillars supporting the roof was designed as a bowl and a symbol representing the moment and the eternity, expressing a soft and solemn standing for the soldiers.
Memorabilia display hall – built by the UN in 1968
Between 1951 and 1954 there were about 11,000 burials of UN troops in 21 countries. As of 2012, there are 2,300 wards of eleven countries, including 36 of the Republic of Korea troops deployed to the United Nations military bases. Because burials of seven counties graves were retrieved back to their homeland, including Belgium, Colombia, Ethiopia, Greece, Luxembourg, Philippines and Thailand.
The burials of British Commonwealth Forces Korea are located in United Nations Memorial Cemetery. The numbers are 885 British troops, in accordance with the English customs of the dead.
^The Korean War started on June 25, 1950 when North Korean forces pushed south of the 38th parallel which divided Korea following World War II. With authorization from the United Nations, forces from the United States and other nations pushed the North Koreans back to the north. When these UN forces approached China, Chinese forces intervened and the battlefront eventually stabilized along the 38th parallel. The Korean Armistice was signed on July 27, 1953 to end the fighting.
^ ab"Korea 2007". Det Norske Kongehus. November 28, 2007. Among [the soldiers] is Norwegian Second Engineer Reidar George Tveit ... Crown Prince Haakon [also] laid a wreath at the new monument commemorating the Norwegian soldiers ...
^Reportedly of North Koreans who refused to be repatriated following the war because they had criticized the regime. See: Baldwin, R F (2013) . Seven Years in Asia: A Wander's Tale. Booksmango. p. 278. ISBN978-616-245-096-9. OCLC781689455.
^Some unidentified Americans were left as token representatives to the unknowns. Pash, Melinda L. (2012). In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation: the Americans who fought the Korean War. New York and London: New York University. p. 134. ISBN978-0-8147-6769-6. OCLC777627052.
^Cannon, Florence (May–June 1952). "Our Honored Dead". The Quartermaster Review. United States Quartermaster Museum & The Memorial Day Foundation. [After July 1950], reports of burials were received from cemeteries in the Miryang, Taegu, Kaesong, Pyongyang, Sukehon, Wonsan, Pupchong, Hungnam, Yudarn, Koto-ri and Tanggok areas.
^Sledge, Michael (2007) . Soldier Dead: How We Recover, Identify, Bury, and Honor Our Military Fallen. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 40–41, 58, 80, 190. ISBN978-0-231-50937-4. OCLC60527603.
^"Operation GLORY: Historical Summary". Condensed from Graves Registration Division, Korean Communications Zone (KCOMZ). Fort Lee, VA: Army Quartermaster Museum. Jul–Dec 2004. Note: the calculation of remains comes from Coleman as the "Historical Summary" gives a total of 4,023 UN remains received.
^Journal Subject=Forgotten War, Abandoned Soldiers |Journal=Seoul governmental society Conference Proceedings |language= Korean |access date = 2017-07-13
Martz, Jr., John D. (May–June 1954). "Homeward Bound". Quartermaster Review. Fort Lee, VA: US Army Quartermaster Foundation. Archived from the original on 2013-11-02. A description of the post-interment processing of casualties undertaken at Kokura, Japan, in which they were identified and prepared for repatriation.
United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Korea. Records, 1959–1974. OCLC86160340.