William "Bill" Freemont Hobbs was a United States Army soldier declared missing in action on November 30, 1950 during the Korean War. His remains were returned to US custody on July 27, 2018 and identified on April 20, 2020.
Bill Hobbs was born on January 1, 1930 to William Hobbs and Flora Hobbs in Pierce, Oklahoma. In 1948, he joined the United States Army from South Coffeyville, Oklahoma. He became a Private First Class to Heavy Mortar Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.
The 7th Infantry Division took part of the Battle of Inchon AKA the Inchon Landing between September 10 and September 19, 1950. United States and South Korean forces invaded and had taken over the city of Inchon. This battle was a strategic victory for the United Nations Command that turned the tide of the war in their favor. Hobbs likely participated in this battle, but details of his participation are unknown.
Hobbs' unit took part in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, which between November 27 and December 13, 1950, the North Korean Korean People's Army and the Chinese People's Volunteer Army recovered northeastern Korea and caused the UNC to retreat. In the ensuing chaos, Hobbs was killed on November 30, 1950 when driving a heavy mortar ammunition truck that was bombed. Over seventeen thousand of United Nations soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing and between forty-nine thousand and sixty thousand Chinese soldiers were killed or wounded.
Hobbs was not among the remains and prisoners of war recovered by the end of the Korean War on July 27, 1953. He was listed as presumed dead on December 31, 1953.
Hobbs was posthumously awarded the following awards: Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's Badge, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Korea War Service Medal. He is memorialized in Court 6 of the Honolulu Memorial Courts of the Missing in Honolulu, Hawaii and at the National Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
On July 27, 2018, following a US and North Korea joint-summit between President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un the month before, the North Korean government returned fifty-five boxes of unknown US soldiers to US custody. They arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii on August 1, 2018. One of the boxes held remains recovered by the North Korean Korean People's Army at Sinhungri, South Hamgyong Province, North Korea. Scientists at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis to identify the remains.
Based on these DNA analysis techniques and historical evidence, Bill Freemont Hobbs' remains were identified as remains in box #50 on April 20, 2020. The identification was announced on April 22, 2020 and again on April 30, 2021. By the time he was identified, two of his siblings, Charles Hobbs and Ruth Mehl, were still alive.
Funeral services will be held on June 26, 2021, at the Veteran's Memorial Patio at Fairview Cemetery. Hobbs will be buried Restlawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Coffeyville next to his mother.