Amid drizzling rain, family and friends as well as local and area law enforcement escorted the coffin from the state’s capital to Byars’ hometown.
A member of Company M, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, Byars was reported Missing in Action by the U.S. Army on Dec. 12, 1950, while fighting the enemy in North Korea. About three years later, on Dec. 31, 1953, he was presumed dead.
Between 1990 and 1994, the North Korean government released 208 boxes of remains from U.S. soldiers who were killed during the Korean War. Byars’ remains were found in six of those boxes, but only about two months ago, Byars’ family was notified that his remains were positively identified and to be brought back home.
When that day finally arrived, it seemed somewhat of a relief to his nephew, Barry Byars.
“It’s a very wonderful reality,” Byars said Wednesday at Heritage Funeral Home on Williamson Road, where the soldier’s coffin is staying for visitation until the funeral on Saturday. “Bobby is accounted for. It’s overwhelming.”
Barry Byars added that he was impressed with the escort, which started out with members of the Griffin Police Department and the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office.
“As we went along, other law enforcement agencies joined in,” he said. “Two of his life-long friends rode with the family.”
Despite missing the escort, which came through town about an hour prior to schedule, three members of the Boy Scouts of America’s local Troop 77 didn’t regret coming out and waiting along Memorial Drive until being notified that the escort had already passed.
“We came here to pay our respect to the people who served our country,” said Chantz Roche.
“I came to show my respect to him and his family,” said Seth Flake. “They have to be happy to know they have the remains.”
“Anyone who goes overseas to protect our country deserves a whole lot of respect,” said Josh Leach, adding that it doesn’t matter in which war the soldier fought. “Every veteran deserves our respect.”
The funeral for Bobby Byars — who was 18 years old when he died — will take place on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Oak Hill Baptist Church. Following the funeral are full military burial honors in the veterans section of Oak Hill Cemetery.