RACINE, Wis. — Ten days after a Racine soldier bolted across the border into North Korea, the uncle of Travis King says his family has so many unanswered questions, including if he is safe.
“My family right now — everyone is distressed,” said Myron Gates, Travis King’s uncle.
What puzzles Gates the most, is that his 23-year-old nephew seemed very excited to return back home to Racine. “He was texting his sister and my brother like 48 hours before this happened, saying he couldn't wait to come home. So it's strange, it's weird. He wanted to go into the military to make his mother proud."
The U.S. Defense Secretary confirmed last Tuesday that U.S. Army Private Travis King crossed the border into North Korea “willfully and without authorization.” Reports show King had recently been released from a South Korean prison, and had been escorted into the airport to return to the United States to face possible disciplinary action. Instead of getting on the plane, King joined a tour group to the demilitarized zone, and ran across the border to North Korea where he has been detained.
Gates said, “Right now if you ask us why he did it, we would just be speculating because nobody really knows why he did it but him.”
His uncle adds that they still do not have any answers about King’s safety. Gates says he has been in touch with Congressman Bryan Steil’s Office. TMJ4 News reached out to Congressman Steil’s office and did not hear back Friday.
Gates said, “I wish that the Pentagon, the White House would actually reach out to our family.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin said she was briefed by both the State Department and Department of Defense this week, but would not elaborate. Senator Baldwin’s spokesperson added she "…is continuing to push to get answers from the Biden administration…"
Gates said, “I wanna know if there's anybody out there that can help us… that can go over there and maybe negotiate or something.”
Gates says the Army private comes from a loving family that wants him back in the U.S. safely.