RACINE — The remains of a Korean War veteran, unidentified for 67 years, have been confirmed as those of a Racine soldier.
Donald L. Baer, born in 1930, joined the Army at age 18. He followed in a family tradition of military service as the son of a World War I veteran and the brother of World War II veterans.
Baer’s company guarded an ammunition dump at Camp Mower in Japan, according to his family. He was sent to Korea in 1950, where he and his company defended an airport and main road in South Korea. He went missing in action on July 20, 1950, one day after fierce fighting began, the family states.
Along with other service members who were unrecovered as of Dec. 31, 1953, he was declared dead.
Baer’s family knew little about how he died until 2001, said his sister Janet Baril, 70, of Marion, Ill. Through research, they found a fellow serviceman who knew Baer and told them he died in a battle in Daejon, South Korea.
After a disinterment, unidentified remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu were confirmed as Baer by comparing a 1948 chest X-ray to the remains of his clavicle.
Baril said she doesn’t remember personal contact with Baer, because as the 12th of 13 siblings she was very young when he enlisted.
“I certainly felt the emotional loss my parents and older siblings and the rest of the family felt over the years,” she said.
Her goal, she said, has been to bring her brother home.
That goal will be realized on Veterans Day, when Baer’s life is to be commemorated at West Lawn Memorial Park Chapel. The family will host a 1 p.m. service for him. Baer will be laid to rest between his father, Vernon, and older brother George.
The family is accepting donations for a flagpole to be placed at West Lawn Memorial Park to fly Baer’s Memorial Flag. According to Baer’s obituary, the flagpole was a special request by Baer’s sister Rosemary, whom family members said never gave up hope “of bringing Donnie home.”
After the service, Baer’s family is planning a reception at the American Legion Hall, 1027 New St. in Union Grove, to share pictures and research information with friends.