John Andrew Barnes III

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John Andrew Barnes III
JABarnesIII.jpg
PFC Barnes
Born (1945-04-16)April 16, 1945
Boston, Massachusetts
Died November 12, 1967(1967-11-12) (aged 22)
Kontum, Vietnam
Place of burial Brookdale Cemetery Dedham, Massachusetts
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch USArmy flag.jpg United States Army
Years of service 1965 - 1967
Rank Private First Class
Unit 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade
Battles/wars Vietnam War 
Awards

John "Jackie" Andrew Barnes III (April 16, 1945 – November 12, 1967) was an American Private First Class in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. For conspicuous gallantry in the Battle of Dak To, Barnes received the Medal of Honor.

Early life[edit]

Barnes was born in Boston, Massachusetts on April 16, 1945.[1] When he was two years old, he was adopted by a Mr. and Mrs. John A. Barnes, Jr., and their 18 year old daughter, Carson, who was a freshman in college.[2][1] From a young age, Barnes expressed an interest in joining the Army.[1]

As a child he lived at 48 Peacedale Road in Belmont, Massachusetts[3] before moving to 246 Colwell Drive in Dedham, Massachusetts during his sophomore year of high school.[2][3] He was graduated from Dedham High School in 1964.[1][4][2] As a student, he was "an average student, quiet, and shy," as well as "very dedicated, very patriotic."[2] While in high school, he served in the Civil Air Patrol and drilled at the South Weymouth Naval Air Station.[5]

Army[edit]

Shortly after graduating from Dedham High School he enlisted in the Army and went through basic training at Fort Pickett.[1][6] His sister was surprised he enlisted so soon after graduation, but said he "felt determined that it was the right thing to do."[2] Barnes also trained at the engineering school at Fort Benning.[2][3] He served for a year in Santo Domingo during the Dominican Civil War.[3]

He was dispatched to Vietnam as part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade on May 31, 1966. Serving in Company C of the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, Barnes was assigned as a grenadier.[1][6] After serving a single tour, Barnes was sent home but volunteered to return to Vietnam and was sent back in the fall of 1967.[1][7] His mother was very upset that he volunteered to go back.[2]

On November 12, 1967, while patrolling in the Kontum province, Barnes' unit was attacked by a North Vietnamese battalion. During the battle, Barnes manned a machine gun that had lost its crew to enemy fire and was credited with nine enemy kills. While retrieving more ammunition, Barnes dived on top of a grenade that had landed among American wounded in order to use his body to protect them from the blast.[3] The grenade exploded, killing Barnes.[3]

Medal of Honor[edit]

Two years later, Barnes was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.[1][7][3] His parents accepted the award on his behalf from Spiro Agnew in the Vice President's executive office.[3] Carson and her husband, James Fleming, and the oldest four of their seven children also attended.[3][2] At the ceremony, also which honored Fr. Charles J. Watters and Robert F. Stryker, was National VFW Rehabilitation Officer Norman Jones and Legislative Officer Francis Stover.[3]

Barnes also won the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and several other medals for valor.[7][3]

Citation[edit]

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 1st Battalion, 503d Infantry 173d Airborne Brigade. Place and date: Dak To, Republic of Vietnam, November 12, 1967. Entered service at: Boston, Mass. Born: April 16, 1945, Boston, Mass.

Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Barnes distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while engaged in combat against hostile forces. Pfc. Barnes was serving as a grenadier when his unit was attacked by a North Vietnamese force, estimated to be a battalion. Upon seeing the crew of a machine gun team killed, Pfc. Barnes, without hesitation, dashed through the bullet swept area, manned the machine gun, and killed 9 enemy soldiers as they assaulted his position. While pausing just long enough to retrieve more ammunition, Pfc. Barnes observed an enemy grenade thrown into the midst of some severely wounded personnel close to his position. Realizing that the grenade could further injure or kill the majority of the wounded personnel, he sacrificed his life by throwing himself directly onto the hand grenade as it exploded. Through his indomitable courage, complete disregard for his own safety, and profound concern for his fellow soldiers, he averted a probable loss of life and injury to the wounded members of his unit. Pfc. Barnes' extraordinary heroism, and intrepidity at the cost of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.[8]

Legacy[edit]

Barnes was buried in Brookdale Cemetery in Dedham, Massachusetts. His name inscribed on Panel 29E - Row 084 of the Vietnam War Memorial. Carson Barnes Fleming believed that her father died of a broken heart four years after his son did, and then her mother of the same cause four years after that.[2]

Within hours of learning that Barnes was to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, a Blue Ribbon Commission was established by the Town of Dedham to make plans for a "John A. Barnes Memorial Day."[3] The Commission was chaired by Stan Embress, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Jacob Jones Post, the same post in Dedham that Barnes joined after his first tour of duty.[3] Also on the commission were the Town's three selectmen, Charles M. McGowan, Francis W. O'Brien, and Daniel P. Driscoll, as well as Edgar George, Ralph Timperi, John McMillian, Robert F.X. Casey, James McNichols, James Tansey, and James Cline.[3]

On April 19, 1970, The Town of Dedham rededicated Memorial Field as John A Barnes III Memorial Park.[7] At the ceremony, dignitaries, V.F.W. members from dozens of towns, and local marching bands processed to the intersection of East Street and Eastern Ave., where a marble monument was unveiled in Barnes' honor. Among the speakers that day was Congressman James A. Burke.[7]

A government building in Boston was named for Barnes.[1] The street sign on Colwell Drive also now indicates that Barnes lived there.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Strakosch, Molly. "John Andrew Barnes III". Needham High School. Archived from the original on October 24, 2017. Retrieved October 24, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "An Interview with Carson Barnes Fleming". The Dedham Times. November 10, 2017. p. 6. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Dedham Soldier Receives Posthumous Medal of Honor". The Dedham Times. November 10, 2017. p. 6. 
  4. ^ Reflections. Dedham High School. 1964. 
  5. ^ Brobst, Ronald F (June 24, 2012). "Ronald F Brobst Says:". Retrieved October 24, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b "Barnes, John A, III, PFC". Togetherweserved.com Inc. Retrieved October 24, 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Parr, James (May 31, 2010). "2 Dedham Heroes- John A. Barnes III & Henry Farnsworth". Retrieved October 24, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Medal of Honor recipients - Vietnam (A-L)". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 

Further reading[edit]