A DNA Test Gave This Vietnam Veteran A Whole New Family

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you think it will and that is certainly the case for Vietnam veteran Gary Barnes. As he was getting ready to settle into his golden years, he would soon realize that there were a few more things that would change his life for the better.

Proud Vet Gary Barnes

Many people look forward to that time in their lives when they get to retire and simply enjoy their later years.

Gary Barnes in an interview
CBS Sacramento/YouTube
CBS Sacramento/YouTube

Gary Barnes is a 78-year-old man who chose to spend those years in Grass Valley, California with his wife Caryl. However, he still had one regret that left a whole in his heart.

Heading To Vietnam

Barnes was just one of the approximately 2,700,000 American soldiers who went over to serve in Vietnam.

Gary Barnes in uniform
CBS Sacramento/YouTube
CBS Sacramento/YouTube

This was one of the most traumatic experiences in his life, so he needed to find ways to decompress after living in such a stressful situation. So, he headed for some much needed rest and relaxation in the neighboring country of the Philippines.

He Loved The Philippines

While some may not know what to do in a foreign country, Barnes made sure to make the most of his time in the Philippines.

philippines in the 60s
Heidi Spöhel/RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Heidi Spöhel/RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images

One thing that surely caught his eye were the women. “I thought the women were beautiful,” said Barnes. He even met a special someone during his time there.

Just A Short Fling

Barnes ended up spending a lot of time with a woman named Filipina, but the two had to separate once he was called back to Vietnam.

Gary Barnes in Vietnam
CBS Sacramento/YouTube
CBS Sacramento/YouTube

Unfortunately, the pair were never able to keep in touch after he left and this would be important down the line. There was something she was keeping from him.

Moving Back To The States

Barnes was able to finish up his time in Vietnam and returned home to the United States.

soldiers in vietnam 1968
Terry Fincher/Express/Getty Images
Terry Fincher/Express/Getty Images

There, he met a nice lady named Caryl who later became his wife. While the two enjoyed their marriage, they were never able to have children. This sometimes took a toll on him.

Someone New Enters The Picture

Across the country, a 50-year-old woman named Olivia Robles decided she wanted to look into her identity.

Olivia Robles with her husband
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook

Robles was born in the Philippines and moved to America as a young girl. At about 10-years-old, she learned a family secret that would change everything. This caused a lot of mixed emotions.

A Different Father

Robles was told that the man she thought was her father was actually her stepfather. At first, she didn’t know how to handle the news.

Olivia Robles in a church
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook

As she grew up, she became increasingly curious about her true background and the identity of her biological father. She would soon embark on an ancestry journey.

Taking A DNA Test

Since Robles was still unsure of her family history by the time she was 50, she knew a good way to figure things out would be to take a DNA test.

Ancestry DNA test kit
Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In order to get results on her full ethnicity and heritage, she ordered a test from Ancestry.com and submitted a sample.

An Alabama Woman Matches Her Results

Robles had no idea if she would get any sort of match, especially in the United States. Shortly after submitting her DNA, she learned she was a close match to a woman named Diana Barnes.

Gary Barnes as a young man
CBS Sacramento/YouTube
CBS Sacramento/YouTube

Diana was from Alabama and Robles thought she would have a lot of answers about her background.

Robles Gets Some Answers

Robles was able to chat with Diana about their family tree and asked her if her relatives had any sort of connection to the Philippines.

Gary Barnes during an interview
CBS Sacramento/YouTube
CBS Sacramento/YouTube

Diana remembered that her cousin Gary Barnes had spent time in the Philippines in 1966 during his time in Vietnam. Robles was getting closer to the truth.

Putting The Evidence Together

Robles realized that the man Diana was talking about had been in the Philippines just about a year before her birth. This meant he could be her biological father.

Olivia Robles' son in uniform
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook

What really solidified this was Robles seeing a photo of a younger Barnes. The man looked almost identical to her youngest son.

Contacting Barnes

While Robles was almost sure that Barnes was her biological father, she was still extremely nervous about how he’d handle the news.

barnes and robles posing for a photo
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook

She gave him a phone call and things went surprisingly well. “It was like I’d known him all these years,” said Robles. Then, she knew it was time to have him take a DNA test.

The Results Are In

Barnes was eager to get his DNA sample submitted and once it was collected, the pair knew that they were in fact father and daughter.

barnes and robles in shirts saying gary's daughter and olivia's dad
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook

Now, it was time to finally meet in person. Robles booked a trip to visit her long-lost father in California for the very first time.

Love At First Sight

As soon as Robles arrived at the airport, the father and daughter immediately embraced in an adorable hug.

barnes and robles hugging
CBS Sacramento/YouTube
CBS Sacramento/YouTube

Later, Barnes and his wife Caryl brought Robles home where she stayed with them for a week. Robles was so excited to add more people to her family and didn’t want the experience to end.

It Was All She Ever Dreamed Of

After spending almost her entire life wondering who her real father was, Robles was ecstatic to finally have all her questions answered.

barnes and robles smiling
CBS Sacramento/YouTube
CBS Sacramento/YouTube

“This is truly a miracle. I’ve been on this quest for so many years since I was ten years old, and here we find each other at age 50 and 78, so it’s a miracle,” said Robles.

Barnes Got The Daughter He Always Wanted

After spending his whole life without children, Barnes was finally able to fill that gaping whole in his heart.

barnes and robles in an airport
Reno-Tahoe International Airport/YouTube
Reno-Tahoe International Airport/YouTube

Not only did he have a new daughter and son-in-law, but he was also a grandfather to three grandsons. “My life is complete,” said Barnes. This meant more to him than anything he could have ever imagined.

He Didn’t Have To Miss Out Anymore

Throughout his adult years, Barnes felt like he was missing out on some of life’s biggest moments because he never became a father.

barnes and robles smiling for a photo
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook

“I missed those events where families got together and they loved each other and enjoyed being together. I never had that. Now, I do,” said Barnes. He still had another surprise coming.

Their Families Grew Larger

Not only was Barnes a proud father of Robles, but he got to experience being a grandfather to three grandsons as well.

barnes with his daughter, grandsons, and great grandson
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook

Also, one of his grandsons has a son, which made Barnes a great-grandfather. Similar to their grandfather, all of the grandsons have a background in the U.S. military.

Making Time For The Family

Barnes was absolutely thrilled to get so many new family members. He traveled to Florida to spend Christmas with them and they even made a special trip to New York for his grandson’s military academy ceremony.

barnes with his daughter, grandsons, and great grandson
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook

“I got to pin his first badge on him, and it’s too difficult to even describe the emotions I felt. What an honor,” said Barnes.

They’re Closer Than Ever

After not knowing her father for most of her life, Robles decided to take a job within driving distance of him.

barnes and robles smiling for a photo
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook
Olivia Robles Mauger/Facebook

They call each other every morning and night, which Barnes really loves. “More important than anything in life…is family,” said Barnes. It was truly a happy ending for both of them.