Billy Joe Maxwell is a United States Army soldier who went missing in action during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War on November 30, 1950. His remains were returned to U.S. custody on July 27, 2018 and identified on August 7, 2019. He was identified alongside Carl Johnson, who was killed on the USS West Virginia during the Pearl Harbor attack.
Billy Maxwell was born on August 24, 1931 in Gate City, Georgia to James and Eula Maxwell. He lived in Hogansville, Georgia for most of his life and enlisted in the United States Army on November 16, 1949. Sergeant Maxwell served in the Heavy Mortar Company, 3rd Battalion, 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. It is likely Maxwell took part in this battle, but the extent of his participation is unknown.
Maxwell's 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 United Nations Command to retreat. In the ensuing chaos, Maxwell's unit was engaged in intense fighting with enemy forces. On November 30, 1950, Maxwell was reported missing in action, though the exact circumstances of his disappearance are unknown. His remains were not recovered at the time and not when the Korean War ended on July 27, 1953.
Maxwell was listed as presumed dead on December 31, 1953.
Maxwell was posthumously awarded the following awards: the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.
His name is featured at the Honolulu Memorial Courts of the Missing in Court 6 and the National Korean War Veterans Memorial. Additionally, a cenotaph was plotted in Magnolia Row 26 of Carrollton City Cemetery in Carrollton, Georgia for him.
On July 27, 2018, following a U.S. 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 U.S. soldiers to U.S. custody. They arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii on August 1, 2018. Scientists at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis to identify the remains.
Based on these DNA analysis techniques and historical evidence, the remains were identified as belonging to Billy Joe Maxwell on August 7, 2019. The identification was publicly announced on August 9, 2019. By the time of his identification, he was survived by two of Maxwell's brothers and numerous nieces and nephews.
Maxwell was buried with full military honors on November 9, 2019 at 2:00 PM at the Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Hogansville, Georgia.
- Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency
- Billy Maxwell at Carrollton City Cemetery at Find a Grave
- Billy Maxwell at Myrtle Hill Cemetery at Find a Grave
- Billy Maxwell at the Honolulu Memorial Courts of the Missing at Find a Grave
- Billy Maxwell at the National Korean War Veterans Memorial at Find a Grave
- Battle of Chosin Reservoir on Wikipedia
- Battle of Inchon on Wikipedia