He is Now Home, 70 Years After Being Listed as MIA in the Korean War

Former Army Corporal Billie Joe Hash came home, more than 70 years after he went missing during the Korean War and presumed dead.

Cpl. Hash was enlisted as a member of the US Armed Forces during the Korean War. He was assigned to Army Headquarters Battery, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. He went missing during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.

The Battle of Chosin Reservoir was one of the bloodiest battles of the Korean War. It took place between November and December of 1950. In this 17-day battle, an estimated 30,000 troops belonging to the US, Britain, and the Republic of Korea (South Korean), were attacked by over 100,000 Chinese soldiers.

The battle took place amid a brutal winter where temperatures regularly dipped to 25 degrees below zero, accompanied by biting wind and snow.

Over 100,000 Allied troops died in this battle, and a further 5,000 were listed as missing in action. At the time of the war, Corporal Hash was 18 years old. On the 6th December 1950, he was reported missing in action and was presumed dead on the 31st December 1953.

Ms. Suzie Razmus, the mayor of Corbin, Kentucky, said that she could not imagine the pain the family experienced by not having closure as to what happened to their son.

She went on to say that the story broke her heart and that she was so pleased that his remains would, at long last be returned, Mayor Razmus has sons of her own, so the story really uniquely impacted her.

Aerial view of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Aerial view of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Corporal Hash will be honored with a flag, raised in his honor, in Nibroc Park. Each flag marks a local fallen service person.

The story of this serviceman touched the hearts of many people in the area. One such couple was Ronald and Melissa Gray.

This couple lives in the Tri-County but found themselves in Lexington when they saw the procession for Corporal Hash. Melissa Gray said that she had read the story of Corporal Hash earlier in the day. They decided to follow the funeral procession back to Corbin to pay their respects to this veteran of the Korean War.

The Department of Defense continues to investigate missing service people, and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has the responsibility of locating, identifying, and returning the remains of US service people lost overseas.

The DPAA investigates the cases of soldiers reported missing during the Korean War, with assistance from the US Military in South Korea and Korea’s Government.

In 1990-1994, the North Korean authorities exhumed 208 boxes of remains, returning them to the US Military in South Korea.

On investigating the remains in the boxes, the Department of Defense said they estimated that the boxes could contain around 400 individuals. Sorting through the remains and identifying the various individuals is a time consuming and complicated task.

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The DPAA said that Corporal Billie Joe Hash’s remains were identified on the 27th May 2020. The Department of Defense says that at this time, over 7,800 US service personnel are unaccounted for from the Korean War.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE