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Fallen Officer To Be Remembered Decades Later

MINERSVILLE -- The men and women in blue are being honored for their service and sacrifice this week as part of National Police Week.

Decades after being killed in the line of duty, a police officer in Schuylkill County will be honored this Saturday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

June 19, 1970, will always be remembered by Gail, Tom, and Lynn Barber. That's when their father, a World War II veteran, walked out the door and never returned.

Patrolman Milan Barber was killed in an early morning struggle with a car thief on Sunbury Street in Minersville. Barber was the first Minersville officer to die in the line of duty.

"My grandmother was up and I was close to her. I was sleeping in her room that night and I heard the sirens, and she says to me, 'Some poor soul is in trouble,'" Lynn Barber recalled.

Almost 47 years ago, Officer Barber and another officer noticed a man trying to steal a car in what used to be a dairy parking lot. When they tried to arrest him, he resisted.

"At that point, the other officer thought he should get some help, so he got some clubs and stuff from the car, and at that point, the young guy was getting the best of my father from the struggle, and apparently somewhere along the way, there was a blood clot that dislodged," said Tom Barber.

After getting the suspect in the car, Barber died on the way to the hospital.

The suspect was eventually charged in connection with Officer Barber's death.

"I was at that age between 10 and 11 where you really don't want to hug your dad, but something that night made me say, 'Wait, Dad,' and I ran to the door and I hugged him, not knowing that would be the last time I would see him," recalled Tom Barber.

As time moved forward, the Barber family thought his legacy would be forgotten. Then last year, Gale Barber Bedford was contacted by the Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit organization that honors officers killed in the line of duty.

"At first, you always wonder is this some kind of scam. We are so jaded these days," said Gail Barber Bedford.

But it wasn't a scam. After being verified, their father was selected to have his name as one of the 394 engraved this year on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. during National Police Week.

"He deserves it, as well as a lot of other policemen, as well as any first responders that don't receive any type of recognition," added Bedford.

This Saturday, the Barber family, along with other families who lost a loved one, will take a tour of the White House and attend the 29th annual candlelight vigil for the fallen officers on the National Mall.