Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sgt. William Travis Barker, USA, KIA in Korea

William Travis Barker was born June 2, 1929  and passed away February 18, 1951 at Puktong Prisoner of War Camp, North Korea.

William enlisted in the United States Army in Rockwall County, Texas and

 "...went on to serve as a medic in the Korean War with the 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, an all-black unit, with which  [Congressman] Charles Rangel served and received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

On Dec. 1, 1950, Barker was tending to wounded soldiers when he was taken prisoner by North Korea in Kunu-ri, during the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River,  [according to] Ted Barker of Dallas.  He is not related to the deceased, but serves as an administrator for the Korean War Project.

'They almost destroyed 2nd Infantry Division,' he said of the attack the Chinese made in the narrow valley.  'The majority of the men were killed or taken prisoner.'

In 1953, the men who were imprisoned with him were released and debriefed during operation Big Switch.  They said Sgt. Barker's death occurred Feb. 18 1951.... . "  ( Rose L. Thayer, Fort Hood Herald)

Sgt. Barker's remains were later recovered, but not identified until June 2012 by DNA match to his family.

On August 13, 2012, Sgt. Barker's remains were returned to Texas, arriving by charter aircraft at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport.  On hand to welcome him home, were the Patriot Guard Riders.  After the flag draped casket was moved from the aircraft to the waiting hearse, the Riders rode in the procession, led by motor officers of multiple jurisdictions, to the Harper-Talasek Funeral Home in Killeen, Texas.

At the funeral home, more Riders awaited, standing in a line along the roadway, holding American flags. The Riders, acting as pall bearers, moved the casket from the hearse to the funeral home, while scores of Riders stood at attention and saluted.

On August 15, the Patriot Guard Riders assembled at the funeral home, and led the funeral procession carrying Sgt. Barker to his final resting place, the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, south of Killeen.

At the Cemetery were fifty American flags blowing in the Texas wind along the roadway fronting the committal shelter.  After the United States Army Honor Guard moved the casket from the hearse to the shelter, the Riders formed a line of American flags around the shelter as final prayers were offered by Army Chaplain, Captain Marta Pena.

The gathering was also addressed by a Korean War Veteran, who spoke on behalf of more than a dozen such veterans present to, finally, welcome home their fallen brother.

The Army Honor Guard rendered full military honors.  The detail of seven rifles fired three volleys of fire, representing Duty, Honor and Country, followed by the playing of Taps by the bugler.

The flag that covered the casket was carefully folded into a tight triangle and presented to William's sister on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for his honorable and faithful service.

Sgt. William Travis Barker was laid to rest on the cemetery hillside, as the American flag flew at half-staff in his honor at the top of the hill.

Left to cherish his memory are four siblings and numerous other dear family and friends.


There will be a great encampment
In the land of clouds today.
A mingling and a merging
Of our boys who've gone away.
Though on earth they are disbanding.
They are very close and near,
For these brave and honored heroes
Show no sorrow, shed no tear.
They have lived a life of glory,
History pins their medals high,
Listen to the thunder rolling,
They are marching in the sky!

Arta Nottingham Chappius

No comments:

Post a Comment