Korean War - Burial of American Dead

Carl Mydans was coming to the end of his assignment as TIME-LIFE bureau chief in Tokyo when North Korea decided to invade South Korea. During the first few weeks of the Korean War, the fighting was referred to as nothing more than a "police action." Once casualties began to increase, the conflict became a war.
Undermanned American forces were sent to quell the situation and the consequences can be seen in images such as this. On assignment for LIFE, Mydans followed a fresh battalion of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division in its mission to strengthen the American defense line near Yong Dong. The effort was futile because some of the units had been cut off or infiltrated by greater numbers of North Korean forces, leading to retreat.
Back at the medical station, the wounded slowly began arriving. Eventually, the bodies of the dead were buried in an impersonal grave a few miles from where they died. In this photograph, Chaplain John G. Burkhalter reads a prayer while the shrouded bodies of 21 men are lowered and placed side by side in this grave near Kumch'on.
Currently not on view
Date made
Mydans, Carl
place made
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 13 1/2 in x 9 in; 34.29 cm x 22.86 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Estate of Carl Mydans
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Carl Mydans
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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