Update 19 July 2008

Come to find out a few new bits of information – like the fact that Capt. Mauldin was a graduate of The Citadel (Class of ’44).

A Funeral, 56 Years Later

A Funeral, 56 Years Later

The tribute to Air Force Capt. William K. Mauldin came 56 years late. But that Friday’s moving funeral service here came at all is a testament to a country’s commitment to find its war dead and a daughter’s search for a father she barely knew.

Corinne Mauldin of James Island was just 2 when her father, a former Citadel cadet from Pickens, was shot down Feb. 21, 1952, during the Korean War. She has spent her entire adult life seeking answers from the military in an effort to locate his remains and bring them home for proper burial.

This really is a compelling story – not only of a little known part of the air war in Korea, or a nation’s determination to identify and bring to final rest all of those who made the supreme sacrifice in serving our country, but of one daughter’s unyielding quest to find and bring her dad home.  Read the rest here. -SJS

“He was an enthusiastic flier, he often volunteered to do what he could.” – Corrine Mauldin, daughter

The Official Announcement:

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

He is Capt. William K. Mauldin, U.S. Air Force, of Pickens, S.C. He will be buried on July 18 in Easley, S.C.

On Feb. 21, 1952, Mauldin departed Kimpo Air Base, South Korea, on an aerial reconnaissance mission of enemy targets in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.). While over Odong-ni, Mauldin’s RF-51 Mustang was hit by enemy fire and crashed near Sinan-ri, Hoeyang County, D.P.R.K. An aerial search of the crash site was conducted that day and the next, but found no evidence that Mauldin escaped the aircraft before it crashed.

Between 1991-94, North Korea turned over to the U.S. 208 boxes of remains believed to contain the remains of 200-400 U.S. servicemen.  One set of remains turned over in 1993 included fragments of aircrew life-support equipment, and were reported to be those of an American pilot recovered near Sinan-ri.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA in the identification of Mauldin’s remains.

45th TRS RF-51

The Rest of the Story:

The 67th TRW was activated on February 25th, 1951 in Japan taking over the assets of the 543rd Tactical Support Group. On March 25th they moved to K2 at Taegu in South Korea. The three squadrons assigned to the tactical group were: the 12th TRS flying Douglas RB-26 Invaders, the 15th TRS flying Lockheed RF-80As and the 45th TRS with Mustangs.

The entire wing was hopelessly undermanned; at the outset having only 34.5% of enlisted men and 53.8% of authorized officer personnel. Fortunately most of these were assigned to the tactical group which was up to 75% of authorized strength. The 67th TRW was the only unit providing tactical reconnaissance in Korea; and, in spite of the inadequate personnel, the demand from the 5th Air Force and the 8th Army for photographic and visual reconnaissance was relentless. The North Korean airfield building program alone required a vast amount of work to be done. Maps of Korea were woefully inadequate; and it fell to the 67th to provide much needed information. In the period March and April, 1951; the RF-80s flew a total of 470 sorties, the RB-26s flew 329 night sorties and the Mustangs, 337 sorties.

Bob Sweet flew with the 45th TRS. Bob had been in the Far East theatre some time, having flown 100 missions in Harvard T 6s with the Mosquitoes, the 6147th Tactical Control Group. He recalls the early days at K2 flying the RF-51:

“We began to receive F-51s in January 51 to increase the units aircraft strength. Initially we flew in twos, as in WWII. A few days following our first missions, someone at 5th Air Force decided that they could fly twice as many missions if we did not send a wingman along! Consequently, except for a few special missions we flew singly. Since the fighters had no cameras we were unable to get photo confirmation of significant sightings, but the air force was willing to live with that and rely on visual sightings alone. Also they regularly increased the number of sorties scheduled, until it was impossible to fly them all! Of course we began to experience losses and, being alone, there was usually no way to determine how or where the loss occurred. Pleas to wing were in vain, as we were flooding the system with loads of good information and the army was as pleased as they could be with the work of the 45th! We also coordinated fighter-bomber strikes on many of the targets sighted, sometimes within minutes of discovery.”

Read the whole history here:  45th RS/67th TRG Recce ops during the Korean War

From The State newspaper (Columbia, SC):

The Korean War: Pilot’s remains identified

By CHUCK CRUMBO – ccrumbo@thestate.com

The remains of a South Carolina pilot, whose fighter plane was shot down during the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family.

Capt. William K. Mauldin will be buried with full military honors, 56 years after he was declared missing in action, the Defense Department said Thursday.

“If anything, there’s some closure and there’s some peace about him being able to come home,” said Corinne Mauldin, the aviator’s daughter.

On Feb. 21, 1952, Capt. Mauldin took off from Kimpo Air Base, South Korea, in a RF-51 Mustang, the Pentagon said. His mission was to take aerial photos of enemy targets in North Korea.

Mauldin’s plane was hit by enemy fire and crashed near Sinan-ri in North Korea. Aerial searches that day and the next could not find any signs Mauldin survived the crash, the Pentagon said.

He later was declared missing in action.

Corinne Mauldin, who was 3 years old when her father died, started writing letters about his case to the Air Force in the 1960s, when she was in college.

“I’ve always wanted to know the details about what happened,” said Corinne Mauldin of Charleston.

Capt. Mauldin’s remains were in some 200 boxes of U.S. servicemens’ remains the North Koreans turned over between 1991 and 1994, Pentagon spokesman Larry Greer said.

One set of remains included fragments of life-support equipment, which investigators learned had been recovered from the crash site near Sinan-ri, he added.

That evidence led investigators to think the remains were Mauldin’s. He later was positively identified through DNA samples from family members.

A graveside service for Mauldin, a Pickens native, will be held July 18 at Robinson Memorial Gardens in Easley.

Mauldin is one of three S.C. service members, killed in the Korean War, who have been identified from remains.

More than 400 South Carolinians were killed in the war.

However, 113 S.C. servicemembers who served in Korea remain missing in action, according to a Pentagon Web site.

Reach Crumbo at (803) 771-8503.

Welcome home Capt. Mauldin – and rest easy now that your mission is finally complete.