Cpl. Wayne Barton Gill, Jr.

by Pam Brekas and Corinne Steiger


   Wayne Barton Gill, Jr

     Born April 19, 1930, Wayne grew up in the Woodburn, Oregon area where he attended Woodburn High School.  The youngest of three children, he always was fascinated by uniforms and frequently brought home Oregon National Guard members for dinner, much to the chagrin of his mother.

     I never consciously knew my Uncle Wayne.  I was born in June 1947, and apparently I was the apple of his eye.  I have no real memories of him during my young years.  He enlisted in the Army and was gone so suddenly that the family has very few if any photographs of him as a soldier in uniform.  We know he was stationed in Okinawa and he didn’t have great favorable memories of being there.  He wrote about the rain, the rats, and the boredom. I, as his niece, on the other hand, was mentioned in almost every letter home.  He was always asking how I was doing, what I was learning, etc.  It is through these letters that I began to have some connection with him.

      When his unit was transferred to Korea, letters got further apart, and the last one was only a few days before he went missing.  The family tried, with medical and dental records to find a match and have remains returned for a proper burial.  This, alas was not to be.  His older brother died of leukemia after fighting in WWII, and the Gill name ends with Wayne Barton Gill, Jr.’s demise.

      In the 1980s, his sister (my mother) Corinne Gill Steiger and I found his name on the wall at the Punchbowl. In our naivety we believed he had been found.   This name on the wall gave his mother (my grandmother) a modicum of relief.  Years later, my cousin sent an article from the paper looking for relatives of missing Korea War military members.  My mother and I made contact and then found out about the Annual MIA/POW accounting in Washington. DC.  My mother and I have been to two of the events.  Each time we find out a bit more.

      As we piece this puzzle together, with help from the Coalition of Families and especially John Zimmerlee, we find out a bit more.  We only knew he was classified as MIA.  We did not know that he was a POW and his name appeared on the chalk-board in Seoul, and that he was probably taken north on the trains.  We know nothing after that.  His name never appeared on a list of those killed, or those who survived.  This is where the story has hit an impasse.  A few years ago, one of the x files at the Punchbowl had similarities to his physical makeup.  We requested exhumation.  It did happen, and it was not Uncle Wayne.  This year, again, there is a similar case with evidence that could connect to his remains.  We are going through the process again.

     We are also dealing with my congressman to get two previously unclassified POW debriefings to find out a bit more.  That, too, takes time.

     My mother is 94, and I am 70.  Who knows if we will ever have any answers for our loss.  One can only hope. 

Written by Pam Brekas

     The Coalition is excited to present Family Remembrances - Korean & Cold War POW/MIAs. These single page websites are ways for families to honor their missing loved ones and broaden awareness of the mission to learn answers to the missing men's fate. 

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