67 years later, slain soldier laid to rest in Kzoo Co.

Fort Custer National Cemetery
Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta. (Sept. 29, 2017)


AUGUSTA, Mich. (WOOD) — The remains of a soldier killed in the Korean War are now resting alongside his brother at a Kalamazoo County cemetery.

Army Pfc. Charlie Hill was presumed dead after a fierce battle in the Korean War, but his remains weren’t recovered until decades later.

Back in November 1950, Charlie was a member of Battery D, 15th Anti-aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Self-propelled Battalion, 7th Infantry Division, when he and other soldiers were suddenly attacked at the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers were either captured or killed; Hill went missing.

“My dad heard [Charlie] took a direct hit in Korea, at the Chosin Reservoir, but nobody saw him die,” said Ronald Hill, Charlie’s nephew. “He just disappeared. They were ambushed quiet heavily.”

On Dec. 31, 1953, the U.S. Army declared Hill dead. It wasn’t until more than a half-century later that his family would get some closure.

In 2004, two joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Recovery teams found the remains of 14 bodies at Chosin Reservoir. Charlie was among them.

“All they had was a small part of the left hip bone,” said Ronald Hill. “That’s all they had. About a 15 mm portion of it.”

Those 15 millimeters would be enough. This year, after 13 years of analysis and hard work, researchers found a match between Charlie’s DNA and two of his younger brothers. Charlie was coming home.

“[Charlie] was the oldest of eight. He was the first to die, but he’ll be the last one to be buried,” said Ronald Hill.

Friday, four generations of Hills came to Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, where Charlie lived after growing up in Kentucky, to say thank you and goodbye.

“It bothered our parents quite a bit for many, many years. And 67 years later, it’s a beautiful thing,” said Harlan Hill, Charlie’s nephew.

“All of them are here today,” said Ronald Hill. “Every one of them.”

Ronald Hill said there are still more than 7,000 soldiers unaccounted for from the Korean War alone.