JOPLIN, MO – After being declared “missing in action” decades ago, the remains of a four state navy veteran are finally home. Steffen Reals tells us the story of William Barnett, who — after nearly 80 years — is now in his final resting place.
“She wanted to believe somewhere out there Buzz was still alive and one of these days he was going to come home and knock on the door and say ‘Here I am.'” Says David Barnett, Nephew of William L. Barnett.
It was a moment of closure for the Barnett family.
For eight decades, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, William L. Barnett was declared missing in action.
“He was assigned to the West Virginia and it was bombed.” Says D. Barnett.
His fate was left a mystery.
For several families like the Barnett’s it’s something that has stayed with them for generations. “So many families that lost people at Pearl Harbor, just couldn’t come to terms with it, I mean it just so sudden came out of nowhere.” Says D. Barnett. “So many families just didn’t want to believe that something like this could happen.” Barnett continues. “Especially if there wasn’t a body, and that’s what plagued his mother, my grandmother for so many years.”
But there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
“I was contacted several years ago by the Department of the Navy and wanted my DNA, which I did, and then several years go by and I never hear anything, so I figured, well, out of all the remains there wasn’t any matches.” Says D. Barnett.
Luckily, that isn’t where the story ends.
As of September 14th last year, William’s body was finally identified, and on Friday he was laid to rest in the Fort Scott National Cemetery.
Finally giving the Barnett family the closure they had wanted for so long.
“I could never hardly express how grateful I am to the navy that after all these years, this ceremony, he treated him like he died yesterday, you know after all this time.” Says D. Barnett.