The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, recently accounted-for from the Korean War, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Pfc. Charlie H. Hill, 31, of Williamsburg, Kentucky, will be buried September 29 in Augusta, Michigan. In late November 1950, Hill was a member of Battery D, 15th Anti-aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Self-propelled Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. Approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was attacked by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. American forces withdrew south with the Chinese continued to attack. By December 6, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 wounded service members; the remaining Soldiers had been either captured or killed in enemy territory. Because Hill could not be accounted for by his unit after reaching Hagaru-ri, he was reported missing in action as of Dec. 2, 1950.
Hill’s name did not appear on any prisoner of war list and no returning American prisoners reported Hill as a prisoner of war. Due to the lack of evidence of Hill’s survival, the U.S. Army declared him deceased on Dec. 31, 1953.
Although the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service hoped to recover American remains that remained north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone after the war, administrative details between the United Nations Command and North Korea complicated recovery efforts. An agreement was made and in September and October 1954, in what was known as Operation Glory, remains were returned. However, Hill’s remains were not included and he was declared non-recoverable.
In August and September 2004, two Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (now DPAA) recovery teams worked simultaneously at Unsan and the Chosin Reservoir. The teams conducted the 35th Joint Recovery Operation with the Korean People’s Army (KPA) in the vicinity of Ankyon Village, Changin District, South Hamgyong Province, North Korea, where remains were recovered. On Sept. 10, 2004, the remains were sent to the laboratory for analysis.
To identify Hill’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome (Y-STR) DNA analysis, which matched his family, as well as anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
Today, 7,727 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams. Hill’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.