Texas family to receive vet's remains 50 years after his death

A Fort Worth Texas family finally received long-awaited answers after the loss of a loved one in Vietnam 50 years ago.

Air Force Captain Robert Russell Barnett was shot down over Laos in 1966. His body was never recovered until now.

Debra Coffey from Fort Worth was 9 years old when her dad died. She grew up knowing he was killed in action, but not much else.

On Friday, the Air Force met with Coffey's family in San Antonio and detailed how it recovered and identified her dad's remains so that they could finally give him a full burial.

In the nearly four-hour meeting, Coffey says the Air Force described the efforts to search a crash site the size of three football fields.

“They found the tail number of the B57 so it was absolutely his plane. It was absolutely that crash site,” she explained. “And they just took us through a massive inventory of things that they found.”

The inventory included pieces of glass from the plane, the co-pilot's dog tag and a tooth. It was compared to Air Force medical records and confirmed to belong to Captain Barnett.

“They worked so hard and so long to bring us closure and bring this back to our family with dignity,” she said.

In December, FOX 4 spoke with Coffey not long after the Air Force first notified her it recovered her father's remains. At the time, Coffey noted her dad had a marker at Fort Sam Houston, but no grave site. That will now be remedied.

“We are so appreciative and just so grateful and thankful to our country that they did this for us,” Coffey said. “We'll be at peace, and our dad will be at peace. Our dad will home. He's a Texan, and he needs to be brought back to Texas.”

Coffey says her family is now working on making the funeral arrangements. Coffey lives in North Texas but has relatives in Central Texas. So they may give him that full burial in Austin.

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