In Memory of
U.S. Army Sergeant White River, South Dakota
Mellette County

November 27, 1929 – September 10, 1951
Died as a Prisoner of War in Korea

Philip James Iyotte was born on December 22, 1929, to Joe, Jr. and Florence (Menard) Iyotte in White River, Mellette County, South Dakota. He was the oldest of 14 children, 9 boys and 5 girls. Philip attended St. Francis Mission in St. Francis before he entered the service.

Philip enlisted in the Army and entered active service on July 24, 1948, at St. Francis and then went to Francis E. Warren Base in Wyoming. Iyotte became part of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. He went overseas on June 12, 1948, as part of the Occupation forces stationed in Japan. When the war started in Korea, his battalion was one of the first sent into battle. On September 2, 1950, Sergeant Iyotte was wounded in battle, but he recovered and returned to the front lines on September 21, 1950.

Only months later, Sergeant Philip James Iyotte was taken as a prisoner of war on February 9, 1951 while in South Korea near Seoul. He died on September 10, 1951, while held captive by the North Koreans. His body was never recovered; he is believed to be buried in North Korea. His father was always haunted by the uncertainty of his son’s fate. His dying request was that Eva, Philip’s little sister, find out what happened to him. The Iyotte family is in contact with the DPMO (Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office) in an attempt to keep current on developments. The following is from the DPMO about Philip’s disappearance:

After the war, five U.S. returnees from Prisoner of War camps reported that they knew Philip had died in the Changsong POW Camp. Although the DPMO could not say what the exact cause of death was, “generally POWs were dying of malnutrition, dysentery, pneumonia, or from wounds received in battle.”

His family has petitioned for his medals. Philip James Iyotte was awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Prisoner of War Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean War Service Medal. There is a memorial marker in his honor next to his father’s grave, northwest of White River.

Currently there are four surviving siblings, all living in White River: Eva Iyotte, Judy Iyotte Black Elk, LeRoy Iyotte, and Lawrence Iyotte, Sr. His sister, Eva, wrote, “I will never ever give up on finding my brother. I will bring him home some day.” In fact, efforts are being made through the Rosebud Sioux Tribe to urge lawmakers to establish a Select Committee on Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW and MIA) Affairs. This 10-member committee would investigate all “unresolved matters relating to any United States personnel unaccounted for from the Viet Nam era, the Korean Conflict, World War II, Cold War Missions or the Gulf War, including Prisoners of War and those Missing In Action.”

This entry was respectfully submitted by Chelsea Diane Kerr, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on July 28, 2004. Information for this entry was provided by the South Dakota National Guard Museum, American Battle Monuments Commission, an application for South Dakota veteran’s bonus, and the Iyotte family via Dera and Eva Iyotte, White River. Profile approval by Eva Iyotte.