In Memory of
U.S. Army Corporal Florence, South Dakota
Codington County

February 13, 1924 – December 31, 1953
Missing, presumed dead while fighting near Unsan, North Korea on November 2, 1950

Donald Edward Tippery was born in Florence, South Dakota, on February 13, 1924, to Edward Tippery and Lillian E. (Sullivan) Tippery. He was the second of five children, brothers Ralph, Arnold, and Dale, and sister Jean. At the age of 9, he and two of his brothers were sent to live at the Children’s Home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota because the family had broken apart. As a young man, Donald enjoyed hunting and fishing.

Donald first entered the service during WW II, serving with the U.S. Navy. Donald E. Tippery was recalled for active duty with the Army on December 5, 1947, serving stateside until April 30, 1948, when he was sent to Korea. Cpl. Tippery served as a decoder with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.

The following is part of a letter to his family he wrote during the Korean War:

…How’s everything in South Dakota? Right now, we’re about 15 miles north of the 38th parallel. So you can imagine we’re going straight to the border. From there I just don’t know. Yesterday we were pulled off the front lines for two days rest, had some hot chow, showers and believe it or not we finally got one can of beer. Several guys were trading their beer for envelopes and writing paper. Our Battalion headquarters passed out some paper and envelopes. I guess everyone gave his or her left over stuff to someone who was staying behind before we moved to the front. Not much fighting going on…just a few roadblocks. They are giving up by the hundreds, but still this war isn’t over yet. We’ll be seeing you….

On November 2, 1950, the communists launched an assault on the United Nations line near Unsan, Korea. The next day, the 3rd Battalion was called in as reinforcements to protect the main supply road. Because of heavy artillery and mortar fire, Donald’s battalion was quickly cut off from friendly lines, and surrounded by enemy forces. After two days of fighting, with no hope of help in sight, other troops were called in to try to help the surrounded men, but those attempts failed. On the evening of November 2, those rescue attempts were called off. All able-bodied men were told to try to break out of the enemy line. By the afternoon of November 6, 1950, the 3rd Battalion, and the 8th Cavalry Regiment no longer existed. Nearly 400 Americans are still unaccounted for from this battle.

On November 24, 1950, Corporal Donald E. Tippery’s brother, Arnold received a telegram from the Secretary of the Army notifying him that Donald was missing in action. Three years later, on December 31, 1953, Cpl. Donald Tippery was declared dead.

In March of 2000, during a land reclamation project in a field in North Korea, a man on a bulldozer discovered human bones and military buttons. Nearly an entire skeleton, along with a boot, buttons and buckles, and amazingly, a dog tag bearing Cpl. Donald E. Tippery’s name, were uncovered. Using medical and dental records, a forensic team positively identified the remains. Cpl. Tippery was the first soldier from South Dakota to have his remains fully recovered from the North Koreans.

The family of Cpl. Corporal Tippery was awarded the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

Donald E. Tippery celebrated his life in a burial service in Chancellor, South Dakota on June 15, 2002. He was buried with full military honors at the Chancellor Reformed Church Cemetery in Chancellor, South Dakota. His niece, Diane Albers wrote:

Most troubling about losing a family member in war, is not having a body to return to the family. My dad always wondered if he had been captured and perhaps tortured. Without a body to bury it’s difficult to have a place to mourn, a place to bring flowers and a final resting place. Donald Tippery always wanted a reunion with his family. I’m sure he could never had imagined a homecoming like he had with full military honors, an honor guard and several hundred people and dozens of relatives attending a service and burial for a soldier who had died 52 years earlier. We welcomed him back to his country, his state, his family, and to his final resting place.

Adam Fosheim and Zack Gilkerson, 7th grade, Stanley County Middle School, Fort Pierre, South Dakota, April 19, 2004 respectfully submitted this entry. Diann Albers, Deb Bultena, and Peggy Randall, nieces, and Arnold and Lois Tippery, brother and sister-in-law respectively of Corporal Donald Tippery, provided information for this entry. Profile approved by Deb Bultena, niece.