Remains of Korean War veteran return home after 67 years

(KFVS) - A Heartland family finally gets closure. For more than six decades, a Korean War Veteran, Corporal Donald Baer, was missing.

A few months ago, Baer was positively identified.

His sister, Janet Baril of Marion, Ill., explained how the family kept hope after all the years.

"Of course we all have been hopeful for a long time," she said.

Baril explained how her family waited patiently for 67 years to finally find that missing piece of the puzzle.

"I didn't think it was going to happen in my lifetime," she said.

Baril is referring to positively identifying her brother, Cpl. Donald Baer of Racine, Wisconsin.

Cpl. Baer became missing in action July 1950 in Taejon, South Korea.

In 2001, the family submitted DNA samples and for 16 years, the process required much persistence.

"If we had not pushed the details that we became aware of I don't think he would have been reconsidered as being identifiable," Baril said.

She has 13 siblings, Baer was the seventh and she was 12th.

"I didn't personally know Donnie, I was only a year-and-half when he enlisted. But I felt the emotion of our families' loss of him…older siblings, my parents …the whole unknown aspect of what happened," she said.

They used DNA plus a radiograph technology, location and date of loss to ID him.

Baril compared the process to a puzzle.

"It's like putting a big puzzle together…and the pieces are out there. And that's what family needs to know… they are a part of the puzzle," she said. "They hold those pieces."

Eighteen months ago, in hopes she would identify her brother, she bought a grave between her father and oldest brother.

"My last living brother passed away September of 2017… of course he was one of the siblings that did remember Donnie. And of course, we knew the possibility of X-file 450 to be Donnie..I was just hoping it would be made before Frank passed away..but I have the feeling he knows, so it's a good thing," she said while choking up.

"Other families…there's hope out there…they just need to be aware of what's being offered by the military and pick up the ball and run with it," she said.

Baril explained the process it takes to find your loved one. Here are a few of her steps:

  1. Go online to Korean War Project for information
  2. Call branch of services, i.e. Army (for DNA, files, updates)
  3. Find photos and info family members, i.e. dental records, scar, broken bone
  4. Locate families upon getting positive ID

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