AUSTIN (KXAN) - A soldier who was captured by the North Korean army nearly 60 years ago was returning to Texas on Monday for burial in the veterans' cemetery near Fort Hood.
According to the veterans support group, Honor Flight, the U.S. Defense Department had reclassified the status of Army Sgt. 1st Class William Travis Barker from missing in action to killed in action. His body was due to arrived at Austin Bergstrom International Airport at 9 a.m.
Barker's name is listed in the "finding families" section of the online database, Korean War Project. It lists his hometown as Rockwall.
The organization said Barker was taken prison while tending his wounded comrades during the battle of the Chong Ch'on river in North Korea on Dec. 1, 1950. He died on Feb. 18 1951 at age 22.
His remains were not identified until June 30, 2012 using DNA provided by his family. Barker was born June 2, 1929.
"He was captured in December of 1950. He died as a result of hostile action in February of 1951," says Terry Ayers, a captain with the Patriot Guard riders, "His remains were identified through DNA provided by family in June of this year. We're bringing this POW home."
According to the Korean war Project, in the three years of the Korean War, 8,177 United States servicemen were designated as missing In action.
"Over the years, tensions in Korea have cooled and re-heated, but many of the MIA's now resting in North Korea and the DMZ are expected to be repatriated to the United States," the organization said. "It is with great hope that many of these remains may be identified in the future through DNA analysis."
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