Warrior Aviation Honors an American Hero

Throughout its history, Warrior Flight Team has been fortunate enough to have had opportunities to honor American service men and women. Through the Wings of Opportunity program, our nation’s wounded warriors have been given the chance to achieve long held dreams. And through the organization’s work with other members of the aviation community, it has been able to pay long overdue honors to some of America’s fallen warriors. This will once again take place as Warrior Aviation leads a ceremonial formation over Arlington National Cemetery this May, to honor the interment of Col. Noel Elmer Hoblit, USAF. Col Hoblit was lost in the crash of a C-124 transport aircraft on Nov 22, 1952. And now, almost 63 years later, Warrior Flight Team will pay tribute to this hero as he is laid to rest. 

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Noel Elmer Hoblit, the son of a mason and boarding house entrepreneur, was born on December 2, 1907 in a sod house on the prairie of Nebraska. Early in Noel’s youth, his family made the move to Gregory, South Dakota, and Noel considered himself a South Dakotan despite a lifetime of moving in military service.  He attended the University of South Dakota where he played on the football team. His fraternal memberships include:  Phi Delta Theta, Sigma Phi Delta, and Scabbard & Blade Military Fraternity. In May of 1929 he earned a degree in civil engineering and went to work for AT&T.                

 

Noel began his career with the military in 1929 as a reserve infantryman and in 1931 he joined the Engineer’s Reserve.  During the depression, because he was married and had a young child, Noel sought more stable employment and opted to attend dental school.  He earned his degree in Dentistry from the University of St. Louis in 1938, and that same year he joined the Civilian Conservation Corp.   After graduation from St. Louis, he became a Reserve Officer, and in 1940 he joined the Army as an active duty dental officer.  Noel saw action in the Pacific Theatre of Operations during World War II and was stationed at several US bases.  

 

In 1952 he earned his Master of Science in Dentistry from Northwestern University in Chicago; his thesis, written with Eugene Skinner, PhD., “A Study of the Accuracy of Hydrocolloid Impressions” was published posthumously in 1956 in the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry.  After earning his Master’s Degree, he was appointed Chief Dental Surgeon at McChord AFB.  Noel has been awarded several decorations, including: the American Defense Service Medal with Clasp, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze Stars, the American Campaign medal and the World War II Medal.  

 

On November 22, 1952, Noel was on a C-124 Transport plane with 52 other service members, representing all 4 branches of the military. The plane experienced some unknown difficulty, most likely weather, and crashed into Mt. Garnet on Surprise Glacier in Alaska.  A search party was able to land and determine that there were no survivors but bad weather prevented the plane from ever being recovered.  

 

In 2012, 60 years after the crash that killed Noel and all of the other service men aboard, the wreckage began to reveal itself and JPAC (Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command) dispatched a team.  In 2014, remains were recovered and positively identified as those of Col. Noel Elmer Hoblit.  

 

To date, the team has spent 2 summers on the glacier searching for remains and only 17 of the 52 service members have been positively identified.  The team will continue the search until all are identified or the area becomes too unstable; the latter is the most likely scenario because the wreckage is on a glacier that is moving into a 900 foot lake.  

 

On May 21, 2015, the Hoblit family will finally lay to rest Noel Elmer Hoblit.  HIs sons, Col. Jerry Noel Hoblit and Lt. Col. Fred Hoblit were just 16 and 6 years of age when their father was killed on active duty.  Both of Noel’s sons continued their father’s dedicated and selfless service to our nation through military service.  

 

 

Military Summation:

2nd Lieutenant 

    Infantry Reserve 6/15/29

    Engineer's Reserve 3/7/31

    Engineer's Reserve 6/15/34

    Reserve Officer 9/15/38-8/31/39

 

1st Lieutenant 

    Dental Corps Reserve 6/7/38

    Active Duty Army 3/15/40

 

Captain

    Dental Corp 11/1/41

 

Major

    Dental Corp 5/14/43

 

Lieutenant Colonel

    Dental Corp 7/1/48

 

Colonel

    Dental Corp 12/19/51 

 

 

Military Awards:

American Defense Service Medal with Clasp 

Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze Stars

American Campaign medal

World War II Medal.