DELAVAN -- The community of Delavan welcomed back the remains of a local war hero Friday, more than 70 years after he left.
USMC Corporal Raymond Barker, a Delavan native, was killed in 1943 during the WWII Battle of Tawara.
For almost 75 years, his body remained missing.
“We would’ve loved to have had closure, and we never did,” said Barker’s nephew, John Gibas. “You learn to live with things over time that you can’t get closure on. That’s just part of living.”
Until recently, when dental records and DNA samples provided by family members enabled the non-profit group History Flight to identify Barker’s remains.
“It’s amazing what technology has done,” Gibas said.
Friday morning, the late Cpl. Barker’s remains arrived at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport.
A police escort accompanied them on the drive down Interstate 43 to Delavan.
In Barker’s hometown, people lined the streets to welcome him back.
“He was never forgotten. He’s a hero,” said Bonnie Medley, of Delavan.
Roughly 130 students from St. Andrew’s Parish School watched Barker’s body return home.
“I think it’s important for our young people to know the sacrifices people before us have made,” said Sandy Goebel, a fourth-grade teacher and U.S. Air Force Veteran.
“We’re very happy, and very thankful, that they continued the search for Cpl. Barker,” Goebel said.
So is Gibas. He said his family now finally has closure.
Gibas added he appreciated the community’s efforts to give Barker a warm welcome home.
“It was just a very moving experience, and kind of overwhelming that they would do that for my Uncle,” Gibas said.
Barker will be buried at Spring Grove Cemetery in Delavan on Saturday, right in between his Mother and Father.