A Catawba County hero is finally home.
A Patriot Guard of more than 60 motorcycles, police and two military vehicles carried the remains of U.S. Army Sgt. Willie Dennis Hill back to the county Friday afternoon, nearly 62 years after he was reported missing and presumed dead during the Korean War.
Hill was born and raised in Catawba. He was originally listed as missing in action in November 1950 during combat action between the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces and the United Nations Command forces in the vicinity of Anju, North Korea.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea provided no information about Hill's capture or death after the Korean War Armistice in July 1953, and he was presumed dead on Dec. 31, 1953.
Now, nearly 60 years later, Hill’s body has been returned to Catawba County.
At the request of his family, Hill’s body arrived at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport about noon Friday and was transported via Patriot Guard to Tom Rawls Funeral Director in downtown Newton, according to Tom Rawls.
On Saturday, Hill’s remains will be taken to Browns Chapel United Methodist Church in Catawba, and he will be interred at the Concord Cemetery, according to information provided by the funeral director.
Hill’s name is listed on the Honor Roll at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and it is inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial in Hawaii.
More than 7,500 Korean War MIA/POWS remain unaccounted for. On Friday, some of Hill’s family was in Newton to accept their loved one. "The military has been working very hard to make sure everything is set for this service,” said Bryan Page, Hill’s grandson.
Army Sgt. Clint Fox of the 121st Infantry, 25th Division, which is based at Scofield Barracks in Hawaii, was also at the reception. Fox said the unit in which Hill served would be part of the same unit he serves in today.
"If you look down the line, he was one of ours," Fox said.