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Racine veteran's remains identified 67 years after he went missing

Posted at 10:03 PM, Nov 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-06 23:21:24-05

A Racine veteran's remains were identified almost 70 years after the soldier went missing. 

Cpl. Donald Baer's family is getting ready to welcome their loved one home on an honor flight just in time for Veterans Day.  

"We are just thrilled with the news," said Janet Baril, his sister.

At 18, Baer enlisted in the army in Racine.  He disappeared in South Korea in 1950 and was declared dead three years later.  Baer was one of 13 kids.  His sister Janet Baril was five when she was told her brother died.  

"I do remember the feeling from family of missing him, not knowing what happened and the trauma that they went through with just being so much being unknown," Baril said. 

Baril started actively trying to find her brother's remains 17 years ago.  She submitted DNA to the military at that time.

"I felt the responsibility to our family," said Baril.

The military identified Baer 67 years after he went missing by comparing a chest x-ray taken in 1948 to the clavicle bones in his remains.

"I became very emotional that's for sure.  This had has been a long search," said Baril.

Family will greet their loved one on an Honor Flight later this week.

"It's going to be really emotional.  It's going to be really cool," said Donna Knautz, his niece by marriage. 

Dona Knautz is excited to see her son, who's in the Air Force, fly with Baer from Hawaii where he was buried in the Punchbowl to Milwaukee.  

"He's finally gonna get to come home," said Knautz.

The family hopes more will follow.

"And bring them all home within the lifetime that they still have family members living," said Baril.

Baer was one of more than 800 unidentified American Soldiers after the Korean War, called the X-Files.