|Birth: ||Jun. 29, 1916|
|Death: ||Dec. 3, 1950|
Capt. Paul N. Dill was a decorated soldier who served in two wars.
He has a grave site and headstone at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery even though Capt. Dill is not buried there.
Dill, who served in World War II and the Korean War, has been listed as missing in action.
He was one of Delaware's most decorated World War II veterans, recalled into the Korean War after just two years at home in Richardson Park. Already twice injured and awarded the Purple Heart in World War II, Dill went on to receive the Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge, Presidential Citation and Philippine Liberation Medal, among other recognitions.
In 1997, Dill was memorialized by Post No. 2 of the Korean War Veterans Association in Delaware, when the group adopted his name. Friday's gathering marked that event's 10th anniversary, a landmark in efforts to share Dill's story, keep his legacy alive in the community and honor the family he left behind, Post 2 Public Information Officer Fran Daney said.
They gathered at an empty burial site in the veterans' cemetery across from the administration center. The post had this spot created to give Dill his deserved place among heroes, with a headstone and remembrance site that Daney called "a phantom grave."
They had gathered here only once before -- in the U Section, near the left end in front of Row E -- and that was a decade ago, said Post Commander John R. "Mich" Schroeder, who called Dill "a true hero."
Before a crowd of more than 50 stood a floral wreath of red, white and blue, by an empty chair symbolically draped to honor all who are missing in action.
And in front of Dill's headstone, fellow veterans put up "a field memorial" -- an M1 carbine, barrel-down, topped by a Korean War captain's helmet, next to a pair of empty boots from the days when Dill was in uniform -- and his photo stood nearby.
The Korean War Veterans Honor Guard fired a salute, six guns booming, popping brass to twinkle three times on the concrete.
Florence Dill, who never remarried, sat in front of the standing crowd with her son Michael, as Schroeder presented plaques for "outstanding devotion," including one for the Dills' other son, John, who could not attend.
No one in the post that honored their lost loved one Friday knew Dill, spokesman Daney said, but all know his service and sacrifice.
William Penn grad
Dill graduated from William Penn High School near New Castle with the Class of 1935 and afterward attended Beacom College, now Goldey-Beacom, before enlisting in the Army in 1941.
In World War II, he was assigned to the 77th Infantry Division in the Pacific Theater as a second lieutenant. He helped raise the U.S. flag at Aparri in the liberation of the Philippine Islands from Japanese rule, according to News Journal archives.
After the war, he was home with his wife and their two young sons, working as an assistant Boy Scout executive and insurance underwriter at the Wilmington office of the Mutual Life Insurance Co.
His postwar suburban family life -- his era's American dream -- ended Oct. 19, 1948, with his recall to active duty.
Less than a month after the U.S. entered the war, Dill was sent to Korea and promoted to command of Company M, 31st Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He and his company were in most of the big battles, including the Inchon invasion, recapture of Seoul and the advance to the Yalu River's banks, the veterans' post says.
Yellowed articles clipped from The Morning News, a predecessor to The News Journal, told of the hometown hero's war efforts:
"Dill was in the team that raised a U.S. flag on the Manchurian border during the northernmost United Nations advance on Dec. 1, 1950."
But as Dill's situation deteriorated with Chinese troops vastly outnumbering Americans, "his unit was forced to retreat to a reservoir near Chosin. Paul was wounded several times during the [Dec. 1] retreat, but continued in command of his unit, bringing the men back to their company area.
"Masses of Chinese Reds ringed the company, then battered the group, then attacked, overwhelming the Yanks. [On Dec. 2] Lt. Dill was shot through the chest and throat during an attack.
A wartime memoir by Maj. Hugh Robbins, written as he recovered from wounds at Chosin Reservoir, recalled the last time he saw Dill in a mud hut turned makeshift hospital. "Casualties in the battalion ran high, especially among the officers," he wrote. Robbins recalled seeing Dill there and called him "one fine officer."
Soldiers later loaded Dill and other wounded into a truck for evacuation to the south, several accounts say.
The Morning News gave this account of the last time Dill was seen alive: "A red [Chinese] patrol overtook the truck, shot the crew and pulled the wounded from the vehicle. Paul and the other victims were drenched in gasoline, then their clothing was set aflame."
Dill was listed as missing the next day, Dec. 3, 1950, 10 days after his wife received his last letter.
His body was not recovered.
The next year, Dill's brother Clark and 52 other members of American Legion Post No. 33 in Willow Run unanimously named their post for him.
No word on fate
U.S. government demands for information on the fate of the 34-year-old father-of-two went unanswered.
Dill was reclassified in 1954 as missing in action and "presumed or determined" dead in Korea.
The Korean War Veterans Association that adopted his name a decade ago established his "phantom grave" that year.
Honoring the Dill family, recognizing the captain's sacrifice "13,000 miles from here ... to defend the freedom of a people he had never met," and marking a decade since the post's naming made Friday's program "a significant occasion," said Russell W. Cunningham, commander of the Korean War Veterans Association Department of Delaware.
Cunningham urged all assembled to "never let America forget someone like Capt. Paul Dill."
In that time, he has retired and enjoys spending time with his family and mother, a spry 89-year-old who still marches in parades and attends many veterans' events.
As her son thanked post members, veterans who came from all over the state, and other supporters for honoring his father, some in the crowd later remarked that they couldn't help but notice that his face was older, but strongly resembled that of the soldier father he lost as a little boy.
Edith Amelia Clark Dill (1882 - 1950)
Robert Eugene Dill (1911 - 1949)*
Paul Nesbit Dill (1916 - 1950)
CAPT, US ARMY
Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery
New Castle County
Plot: Sec U Site 0
Maintained by: Colleen K.
Originally Created by: Elizabeth Reed
Record added: Feb 25, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 582937
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