MSG Leonard K. Chinn - POW/MIA Returns Home
Dec. 2, 1916 - Apr. 30, 1951
A full military memorial service will be held for Master Sergeant Leonard Kelsey Chinn at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at the Methodist Church in Silver Creek. Burial will follow the service at the Silver Creek Cemetery.
Leonard Kelsey Chinn, son of William E. and Olive (Leavitt) Chinn, was born in New Harmony, Utah, on Dec. 2, 1916. He was the third of 12 children (six boys and six girls) in the family. He was raised on the family's sheep ranch. When he was 13, the family moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho, after losing the ranch during the depression. He received his education at Emerson School in Idaho Falls. Among other attributes, Leonard was known for his calm personality, positive attitude, responsibility, selflessness, and a great sense of humor. He enjoyed a good joke, and loved to tease as well as be teased.
He enlisted in the Army on Nov. 1, 1940, and entered World War II shortly after his enlistment. He served in WW II from approximately 1941-1945. During this time, Leonard not only received the Bronze Star for valor, but he was also awarded the Silver Star for his heroic actions that saved the lives of several of his men. Once Leonard returned home from the war, he was discharged from the Army and married Irene M. Thurstonson (formerly from Silver Creek) on March 12, 1946, in Idaho Falls. The couple lived in Idaho Falls, Salt Lake City, Utah; and Fort Lewis, Washington, and raised two boys Rodney and Randy.
Leonard re-enlisted in the Army on Sept. 15, 1948, and was sent to Korea in 1950. While fighting through a heavily defended roadblock, Leonard was captured by enemy forces on Dec. 1, 1950, and was held at several temporary POW camps before being marched northwest to the POW Camp 5 Complex in Unsan County, North Pyongan Province, North Korea. After U.S. forces announced that Leonard was MIA, his wife and their two young sons moved back to Silver Creek. According to several repatriated American prisoners of war, Leonard remained at POW Camp 5 and later died on Apr 30, 1951, at the age of 34.
On Dec. 14, 1993, North Korea unilaterally turned over 33 boxes reported to contain the remains of U.S. servicemen who died during the Korean War. To identify Leonard's remains, scientist from Defense POW-MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, used mitochondrial Y-chromosome and autosomal DNA analysis, as well as anthropological analysis, and circumstantial evidence. Based on available information concerning the location of MSG Chinn's captivity and death, the research conducted and the reported recovery location of the 33 boxes, Indo-Pacific Directorate determined that of the remains that were recovered from those 33 boxes on Dec. 14, 1993, were those of MSG Leonard K Chinn.
Awards and decorations that he received include Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Prisoner of War Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Arrowhead Device and two Bronze Service Stars, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with three Bronze Service Stars, Combat Infantry Badge, Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II, Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Service Star, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Korea-Korean War Service Medal, Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation, and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.
Leonard is survived by son Rodney (Helena) Chinn of Columbus, step-grandchildren Lori Hansen of Merritt Island, Florida; Steven (Kim) Hansen of Bethany, Missouri; four step-great grandchildren; son Randy (Gay) Chinn of Columbus; grandchildren Todd Chinn of Lincoln, and Becky Coulter of San Diego; and sister Geneva (Neil) Wood of West Covina, California; sisters-in-law Ann Chinn of Michigan and Ada Chinn of Virginia.
Leonard was followed in death by his wife Irene M. (Chinn) Frizzell; parents William E. and Olive Chinn; brothers William H. (Barbara) Chinn, Dee L. Chinn, Arthur J. (Marva) Chinn, Orson K. Chinn, Jack E. (Blanche) Chinn; sisters Birdie (Rex) Lee, Delta (Elmer) Jamison, Blanche (Elvin) Connell, Leda (Eugene E.) Johnson, Madeline (Cecil) Naas.
Condolences may be left at www.mckownfuneralhome.com.