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News Release

Press Release | Jan. 18, 2012

Soldier Missing From Korean War Identified (Hill)

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Sgt. Willie D. Hill, 20, of Catawba, N.C., will be buried Jan. 21 in his hometown. In late November 1950, the U.S. IX Corps was advancing north through North Korea in a push to the Yalu River. A battle unfolded as Chinese forces attacked elements of three U.S. Infantry Divisions. Hill and the G Company of the 24th Infantry Regiment, a “Buffalo Soldier” formation, held vital terrain near the junction of the 25th Division and the adjacent 2nd Division. On Nov. 26, Hill and members of the G Company were encircled by Chinese forces and suffered heavy losses. On Nov. 27, Hill was reported as missing in action near Anju, North Korea.

In 1998, a joint U.S./Democratic People’s Republic of Korea recovery team was informed by a local farmer of a burial site from 1950, believed to be an American soldier. The site, on a wooded hill in Kujang County, P’yongan Province, correlated closely with the area where Hill had been lost. The team excavated the site and recovered human remains and buttons from an American military uniform. In 2001, the remains were submitted to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) for DNA testing.

Scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence, forensic identification tools, and mitochondrial DNA – which matched that of Hill’s cousins—in the identification of the remains.

Today, more than 7,900 Americans remain unaccounted-for from the Korean War. Identifications continue to be made from the remains that were returned to the United States, using forensic and DNA technology.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at or call (703) 699-1420.