DNA Finally IDs Texas POW After 60 YearsAug 16, 2012
In late 1950, General Douglas MacArthur mobilized American forces for a military campaign that he called "Home by Christmas,” because the objective was to quickly win the war and get the troops home for the holidays. Instead, the Chinese attack at the Ch’ongch’on River led to the retreat of American forces and a protracted war in Korea.
In the midst of that battle on December 1, a 21-year-old medical supervisor from Rockwall County, Texas was taken prisoner.
Reports say SFC William Travis Barker, of the all-African American 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, was trying to administer aid to other soldiers when he was wounded and taken prisoner. He was taken to Puktong, a North Korean POW camp.
Two fellow prisoners of war later reported that Barker died in the camp, in February 1951. But with a lack of physical evidence, Barker’s status had been listed as MIA ever since.
Skip ahead to this summer, when a volunteer group called the Korean War Project announced that Barker’s remains had been conclusively identified, and that he was finally heading home to Texas.
Ted Barker, who is no relation to SFC Barker, updates the online registry for the Korean War Project. He says that it was science, specifically a DNA comparison to a close biological relative, that brought the soldier home.
Source: Mark Dewey, KUT News