Korean War veteran, missing 74 years, to be laid to rest
The Valdosta Daily Times, Ga. January 18, 2024
VALDOSTA, Ga., (Tribune News Service) — Gloria Johnson is bringing home a father she never really knew.
“I have no memories of him,” she said. “What I know of him comes from my mother and my family.”
Johnson was a small child when her father — Army Master Sgt. Roy E. Barrow — went off to war and never returned. Until now.
After 74 years in which the Army listed his fate as “unknown,” Barrow’s remains have been identified and he is being returned to South Georgia to be buried at home.
He was one of many victims of the “Frozen Chosin,” the infamous battle at the Chosin Reservoir in 1950 during the Korean War.
What followed for his daughter Gloria was a childhood in which “I felt something was missing.”
Who he was
Roy E. Barrow was born on July 16, 1911, in York, Ala., but grew up in Meridian, Miss.
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, he had a hard time getting a decent job, Johnson said. He wanted to join the Army but his parents wouldn’t sign the age waiver.
Finally, Barrow got into Army fatigues in 1935 as an enlisted man, but he wanted to earn officer’s pips, which meant making his way through Officer Candidate School.
In 1942, during World War II, he made his way through the ranks to captain, eventually serving under Gen. George Patton in Germany.
After the war, he was sent to work at the National Guard Armory in Valdosta in the reserves as an instructor. Because of military downsizing, the Army reduced him in rank to master sergeant — an enlisted man again.
In 1948, he married Louise Noel, the sister of his best friend. In September 1949, Gloria was born.
Barrow shipped out to fight in Korea 11 months later.
The Frozen Chosin
On Nov. 27, 1950, U.S. forces near the Chosin Reservoir in northern Korea were attacked by Chinese forces, leading to a 17-day battle in freezing weather. The Chinese troops had been ordered to destroy the enemy force; the U.S. troops were finally able to stage a breakout and made their way to regroup in a port city.
Johnson said her mother received a “missing in action” telegram from the Army but never received more information about her husband.
Life went on. Barrow was declared legally dead in 1953. Johnson’s mother remarried, and Gloria grew up with a half-sister and a half-brother.
In 1992, her mother gave Johnson a box of her father’s belongings, and through these she was able to make contact with his family.
In 1954, after the war’s end, the remains of 2,900 American soldiers were turned over by North Korea to the U.S. Of these, 848 sets of remains could not be identified. They were buried in the “unknowns” section of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In recent years, DNA testing made the identification of remains more likely, and Johnson and other family members of Barrow’s gave samples for identification.
On Sept. 26, she received the news she had waited for all her life: Her father’s remains had been identified.
Barrow said that, given a choice of where to rebury him, the decision was made to bring him back to “his last true home,” Valdosta, because in letters to his family he said “I just want to come home to Louise and Gloria.” Johnson’s mother is now deceased.
Barrow will be escorted home from Hawaii by his great-grandson, Army Sgt. Joseph Padgett. A procession to the gravesite will begin at the Carson McLane Funeral Home at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. Services with full military honors will be held at 2 p.m. at the River Pavilion at McLane Riverview Memorial Gardens.
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