Air Force Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Fred Hoblit (left) and Air Force Col. (ret.) Jerry Hoblit (right) sit graveside during services for their father, Air Force Col. Noel Elmer Hoblit, on May 21, 2015 at Arlington National Cemetery. The elder Hoblit perished in an airplane crash in Alaska on Nov. 22, 1952. Personnel assigned to the Joint Recovery Prisoner of War Missing In Action team, located, identified and returned Hoblit’s remains to his family for a ceremony with honor. (Photo courtesy of the Hoblit family.)
Nov. 22, 1952, is a day that lives forever in the minds of the Hoblit family. It’s the day when their patriarch, Air Force Col. Noel Hoblit, a military dentist, lost his life when the military cargo aircraft he was on slammed into a snow-covered glacier on a mountain in Alaska. He was returning to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, after an official trip to the Pentagon.
“It was the pivotal moment in my life,” said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Fred Hoblit, who was just 6 years old when his father died that fateful day. “Everything that I have done or has happened to me professionally is a result of that event.”
Now, with help from the Defense Health Agency’s Armed Force Medical Examiners System (AFMES), Noel Hoblit’s remains have been identified and returned home. Last May, his DNA-identified remains were laid to rest with full honors next to his wife, Virginia Hoblit, at Arlington National Cemetery. “This gives our entire family a sense of closure,” said Hoblit.
“The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and Joint Task Force have been recovering the remains and identifying what they can,” said Army Col. Ladd Tremaine, director of the system at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. “This past summer, remains from the previous years’ recovery efforts were turned over to our labs for identification. So far, 20 victims of the crash have been identified of the 52 who were aboard.”