World War II Veteran Finds Friend After 60-year Search

Soldiers from the 89th Division cross the Rhine River in assault boats, 1945.
Soldiers from the 89th Division cross the Rhine River in assault boats, 1945.

Robert Lockard, 91, of Columbus, Ohio, lost track of his close army buddy after returning home from World War II. He spent 60 years looking for Burnice Jones of Perry County.

He had nearly given up hope of ever locating his friend when he finally found some information that led to an emotional reunion in Eastern Kentucky.

The two men served in F Company, 354th Infantry Regiment, 89th Infantry Division. They shared many memorable occasions in the Army, including multiple brushes with death. “Jonesy was just like me. I always had my ethics, but I was ornery and so was he,” Lockard said.

In the years after the war, Lockard would make repeated efforts to find his friend. “I wrote this place and that place, and they’d say, ‘No, you’re no relation.”

A computer search earlier this year led him to Jones’ niece, Helen Jones. “Tickled me to death,” said Jones, “and then from that, we’ve just been calling each other back and forth.”

Unfortunately, Burnice Jones passed away back in 1983. Lockard recently traveled to Kentucky to visit his friend’s grave. “I was crying,” Lockard said. “You’re like brothers when you’re on the front line.”

It’s a comfort to Lockard to finally know what happened to his old friend. Even though he can’t meet up with his friend, he has new friends in Kentucky with which to share their stories.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE