South Dakota War Hero Finally Coming Home

After 70 Years, 1st Lt. Ben Barnes Will Be Officially Buried This Saturday

Army Air Force 1st Lt. Ben Barnes was declared dead in December of 1945.

The World War Two fighter pilot’s plane was shot down during a mission over Berlin, Germany.

Due to issues with Barnes’ plane crashing in occupied Russia, American Grave Registration Teams were unable to identify Barnes.

For Marc Krogstad, Barnes’ cousin, and his family, that all changed within the last year.

“I didn’t know whether to believe the email, if it was a scam or what was going on,” Krogstad says.

He was contacted by the Department of Defense.

They were asking for help to identify who they believed to be Barnes.

Krogstad said it was a moment his family never imagined would happen.

“Ben’s name would come up every once in a while. Actually, we hadn’t given up hope but it was pretty much forgone conclusion at that point that he was lost,” Krogstad says.

After a DNA test from his sister, their long-lost relative was confirmed.

An excavation of the crash site in Berlin found Barnes’ remains, dog tags and personal items.

Krogstad said he’s thankful those who were looking for Barnes never gave up.

“They’ll do anything they can to get our guys back and our gals back. It’s really incredible,” Krogstad says.

After over 70 years, the family is getting him back.

“Finally, Ben is coming home. He’s going to be resting close to his mother’s grave in Miller,” Krogstad says.

Barnes will be buried at GAR Cemetery in Miller, at 2 p.m. this Saturday.

Krogstad said the Air Force approved a fly over to honor Barnes’ official burial.