Missing soldier's remains are headed home - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Missing soldier's remains are headed home

February 16, 2006

Waycross - It’s a bittersweet day for the Barker family. News that their loved one’s remains have been identified brings sadness, but it also brings a sense of relief they’ve wanted for 35 years. "It was like a ton of bricks had been taken off of my shoulders," said Terry Barker, Nephew.

Major Jack Barker was listed missing in action in 1971, when his helicopter was shot down by enemy fire in the Vietnam War. Witnesses saw the explosion and confirmed he was on the aircraft, but without his body, Barker’s family always wondered, what if? "If anybody could’ve survived the crash, it would’ve been him," said Barker.

"The confusion through the years, was he dead, was he alive, was he a prisoner of war, where was he?" said Debbie Winder, Niece.

But after three decades of confusion, they now have the answers they’ve longed for. A team of investigators form the POW/MIA Accounting Command went back to the crash site in 2004, and through DNA and dental records, they identified the remains of Major Barker.

"They were able to match that up with a tooth they found at the site," said Barker.

"Just to know that we’re bringing him home and we can put him to rest here, I’ll take anything I can get, a tooth, whatever they found to identify him," said Winder.

The Barker family held a memorial for Jack 35 years ago and placed a marker at the end of his parents’ graveside, but now, they can finally have a real burial. "We’re going to bury him at Arlington, he will be there," said Barker.

A soldier that was missing for so long is finally headed home. "Uncle Jack and his crew were just misplaced for 35 years, now they can come back to the U.S.," said Barker.

And the family that spent so many years wondering can finally have peace.

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