Korean War veteran, Sgt. Billy Joe Maxwell, finally got his hero’s welcome home, 69 years after going missing in action.
Hundreds of local residents lined the streets of Hogansville to welcome Maxwell home Thursday afternoon as his remains were escorted into town. Maxwell was picked up from the a Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and greeted by remaining family members, before being led back to Hogansville in a motorcade comprised of vehicles from the Hogansville Police Department, Troup County Sheriff’s Office, Hogansville Police Department, Coweta County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, and others.
More than 30 vehicles made the trip from Atlanta, led locally by Hogansville Police Chief Brian Harr and Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff. Maxwell was taken to Claude A. McKibben and Sons Funeral Home, who handled the funeral and interment at Myrtle Hill Cemetery on Saturday.
The Hogansville native served during the Korean War in the Heavy Mortar Company, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. In late 1950, his company was overtaken by Chinese forces near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. The company suffered heavy casualties and many soldiers went missing. Sgt. Maxwell was among the men unaccounted for and was confirmed to be missing in action on of January 12, 1951.
Maxwell was not located during the war and was last seen on November 30, 1950.
In July of 2018, North Korea agreed to send the remains of 55 U.S. service members believed to have fought in the Korean War. One of the service members sent home was later confirmed to be Sgt. Maxwell using DNA testing. Once folks learned that Maxwell would be coming home, Hogansville citizens organized the welcome home that he deserved.
“It is the least we can do for a young man,” said Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz, who quoted President Abraham Lincoln, noting that Maxwell “gave the last full measure of devotion.”
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Tommy Murphy Staff Writer