Magazine article Army Reserve Magazine

Roots Run Deep

Magazine article Army Reserve Magazine

Roots Run Deep

Article excerpt


A 25-year-old letter, hope and a little help from above was all SSgt. Michael Yarber needed to find his wife's lost family roots during a deployment to Bosnia.

On a long shot, Yarber, an Army Reserve soldier, decided to take along the letter to try to locate the family living in Croatia. The letter was the last the American family had received from their foreign relatives in 25 years.

His efforts paid off. "I really didn't think that we would find anyone," Yarber said after talking through an interpreter to his long-lost in-laws on the telephone for the first time.

"They wanted me to come over to their house. They were really excited," Yarber said, who called his wife Joyce to share the good news.

Yarber found that his wife's family roots had not been lost at all. In fact, her relatives were living at the same place for the last century where Joyce's grandfather, Stojan Basara, was born in 1887.

By chance, Yarber, a broadcast journalist with the 372nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, based in Nashville, was stationed here for the first 30 days of his deployment.

"I could have been stationed anywhere else in Bosnia with no chance of calling or contacting them," Yarber said. "Everything seemed to fall into place.

"People say the Lord works in mysterious ways. I think this was one of them," Yarber said about a series of coincidences that occurred during his search.

Another coincidence occurred when the interpreter stopped at the wrong house in the wrong town. The house number was the same as the one they were looking for, but the elderly resident explained that the Basara family lived in a village not far away.

"This woman happened to be the godmother of the woman we were looking for. She called the family and told them we were coming," Yarber said.

Yarber and his small military entourage were greeted by two smiling older women standing at the picket fence of their small farmhouse in Veliki Zdenci, Croatia. …

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