NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Connecting families with their loved ones who are missing in action is an emotional experience. Two brothers have made it their life’s work. They call it the Korean War Project.

Ted and Hal Barker were born into a military family. Their father served with honor in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

“Our father was a real war hero, just a closed mouth,” said Ted.

It was 1995. The internet was just coming into existence, and the brothers wanted to share their father’s war story online.

“For every veteran that chooses to talk about his service, in whatever capacity he served, there’s 10,000, maybe 20,000 that don’t,” Ted explained.

Ted and Hal’s father was one veteran who did not approve.

“He felt that his wartime experiences was his personal business and those of the men around him,” said Ted. “Our dad wasn’t really happy with us doing it.”

Despite their father’s concerns, the brothers moved forward with their work. The Korean War Project launched in 1995, and they haven’t looked back.

“Our dad wasn’t really happy with us doing it, but the veterans out there understand what we’re doing. The families appreciate it, and that’s all that matters to us… We have volunteers all over the world that send us information, so every day, it’s a new world for us,” Ted said. “Every morning, we wake up, ‘Well, what’s next?'”

Over the decades, the Korean War Project has collected an enormous treasure trove of information. Today, the organization networks with veterans and families to try and connect them with loved ones who never returned home from the Korean War.

“If we’re looking for information on a casualty that we’ve archived, my brother has about 25 different ways to research, and often it is seconds to be able to give information to people,” Ted explained. “And if you go to our remembrance area, you’ll see all of the Korean War casualties listed up there. Many of them have photographs. We keep getting photographs all the time… This is a branch of genealogical research.”

However, Ted admitted the Korean War Project may be sunsetting soon. As the Korean veterans die off, the effort to find those missing in action also slows down.

Nevertheless, Ted remains hopeful the next generation will continue to value their work.

“Personally, I think it’s important,” he said. “Whether or not the future generations consider it to be important, that’s to be seen.”

There are an estimated 7,000 missing in action in Korea and they may never be brought home.


Hundreds of Tennesseans remain listed as missing in action from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. News 2 looks at the efforts to keep their memories alive in the special report: Gone But Not Forgotten.