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MILITARY

70 years later, Cayuga County Korean War soldier's remains ID'd

Donald Fabrize

Donald Fabrize, of Cayuga, was killed in 1950 while serving in the Korean War. 

More than 70 years after a Cayuga County soldier was killed in the Korean War, his remains have been identified. 

Army Pvt. Donald Fabrize, 19, was killed during a battle on July 16, 1950, along Geum River near Daejeon, South Korea. He was serving with Company B, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. 

Fabrize was the first soldier from Auburn to be killed in the Korean War, according to a Democrat & Chronicle story published in September 1950. In that story, it reveals that Fabrize's mother, Stella Leone, "had mail returned marked 'deceased' for several days." She contacted the Department of Defense, which notified her by telegram that her son died in combat. 

Fabrize was awarded several medals for his service, including the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman's Badge and the Korean Service Medal. 

But his remains could not be located or recovered, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said. The Army announced in January 1956 that he was non-recoverable. 

There was a set of remains given the name, "Unknown X-36 Taejon," buried in the United Nations Military Cemetery in South Korea. The remains were examined, but designated unidentifiable. They were later moved, along with other unidentified remains, and buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

In 2018, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency developed a plan to disinter and identify the remains buried at the cemetery, also known as the Punchbowl. The 652 sets of remains included 53 recovered from the Daejeon area. 

The remains of "Unknown X-36 Taejon" were disinterred on July 16, 2019, 69 years after Fabrize's death, and transferred to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency's laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. 

Scientists used anthropological, dental and chest radiograph analysis, along with circumstantial evidence, to identify Fabrize's remains. Armed Forces Medical Examiner System scientists also used mitochondrial DNA analysis to assist with the process.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency says Fabrize was accounted for in September 2020, but the public announcement was made now because his family recently received a briefing on his identification.

Fabrize, who is listed on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, will have a rosette placed next to his name — a symbol used to indicate that a soldier's remains have been accounted for.

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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