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Arkansan in Korean War remembered

He went missing, died during conflict, but his name adorns D.C. memorial by Ryan Tarinelli | July 28, 2022 at 3:07 a.m.
U.S. Army soldier Ivey Gene Barnett

WASHINGTON -- Thousands of miles away from his home in Arkansas, U.S. Army soldier Ivey Gene Barnett was a teenager when he went missing in action during the Korean War.

Barnett, who grew up in Crossett, is one of the tens of thousands of Americans who died in the war, according to the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation.

More than 70 years after the conflict started, Barnett's name now has a permanent place in Washington, D.C., etched into the new Wall of Remembrance at the Korean War Veterans Memorial located near the Lincoln Memorial.

Barnett enlisted in the military just before his high school graduation, said his sister Betty Bradshaw, who attended Wednesday's dedication.

"We did not know what happened to him until one of his friends came back after the war was over and told us that he had seen him in a prison camp," Bradshaw, who lives in Pine Bluff, said Wednesday.

Bradshaw made the trip to honor her brother's memory, saying the dedication event kept Barnett's memory alive and showed that her brother "didn't die for nothing."

The Korean people, she said, have not forgotten her family's loss.

"They have been in contact with me as his closest family member ever since he's been gone. I have been to Korea. I took a tour there and now I am constantly receiving messages from Korea," she said.

"I feel like I know them just like I do a neighbor. They're so close," she said.

The granite remembrance wall also features more than 7,100 Koreans who "died while augmenting the Army," according to the memorial foundation's website.

The original memorial was dedicated in 1995, but veterans and their supporters felt they needed a focal point on those who lost their lives to the conflict, according to a foundation spokesperson.

Congress passed legislation in 2016 giving the foundation the authorization to build the wall and construction of the structure started last year, according to the foundation.

About 6,300 Arkansas fought in the conflict and more than 450 were killed, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

War broke out in 1950 when Soviet Union-supported North Korea invaded South Korea, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. The U.S. fought with South Korea and other allied nations, while China sided with North Korea. The war ended in an armistace in 1953.

More than 36,000 Americans died or went missing during the conflict, according the encyclopedia.

John Tilelli, Jr., chairman of the foundation's board, told the crowd on Wednesday that he hopes the Korean War will not be thought of as the "forgotten war" but as the "'remembered victory' that was caused by the veterans."

"We are hopeful that this memorial will remind the millions of people who visit here each year that freedom is not free," he said.

Bradshaw said her older brother loved to hunt, fish and be outdoors. Bradshaw said when she was in 1st grade and he was in 2nd grade, the two would have to walk about seven miles to school.

At that age, Barnett pushed her into a creek to get her wet with water -- part of his attempt to get out of school, she said.

Her teacher had other plans and "put a quilt up with a heater to dry my clothes so he couldn't skip school to take me back home."

"I never got big enough to get him back," she said.

Barnett was reported missing in action on Nov. 2, 1950, according to a report from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

"It was later determined that he had been taken as a prisoner of war (POW) and died on 31 March 1951," according to the report.

Bradshaw said her mother "was just devastated," by Barnett's death and spent years trying to find out where he was and what happened to him, even contacting then-U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers, an Arkansas Democrat.

"She would just not give up until she found out what happened," said Bradshaw.

  photo  Visitors walk past the Korean War Veterans Memorial’s newly unveiled Wall of Remembrance after a dedication ceremony Wednesday in Washington. (AP/Patrick Semansky)

 Gallery: Korean War Armistice Day

Print Headline: Arkansan in Korean War remembered


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