The founders of the Korean War Project website, one of the most influential repositories from that conflict, learned this week that the Army will provide tens of thousands of digitized documents from the war, ending a contentious open-records dispute between the group and the government.
The Army's Human Resources Command informed Hal and Ted Barker, who run the website from their home in Dallas, that they will be sent 13 CDs containing most of the official combat records of the 7th, 24th and 25th infantry divisions.
"Finally somebody got smart," Hal Barker said.
The Barkers, the sons of a decorated Marine who fought in the war, had requested the digitized records this year from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii, which was copying the records for use in the search for the 8,000 troops missing in action and unaccounted for from the war.
The records are unclassified and available to the public, but only in person at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Md. The Barkers wanted to make the information available on their website and sought the discs from JPAC to save time and money.
This summer marks the 61st anniversary of the beginning of the war, in 1950, and the 58th anniversary of the armistice, in 1953.
But JPAC officials told the Barkers that they were National Archives records, then Defense Department records, and that they couldn't release them. The Barkers appealed to top Defense, Army and congressional leaders and were preparing a federal lawsuit. Eventually, the Army relented.
Although the release of the CDs is what the brothers wanted, they are still smarting over their treatment by JPAC. The two groups had worked together for years on the missing-in-action issue.
"It doesn't make me feel good," Hal Barker said. "After all the work we provided the government to help Korean War veterans and their families over the years, it was a slap in our face. There were all kinds of other ways they could have dealt with this reasonably."
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