After a long and productive life, Major Harold L. Barber passed peacefully away on Monday, April 6th at Sacred Journey Hospice in McDonough, Georgia. He was 93.
Major Barber was born on October 17, 1926 in Atlanta, Georgia to Allie Parrish Barber and Howard Harold Barber. He grew up in Atlanta and Jacksonville, Florida until he first entered into the military.
Major Barber fought in both World War II and the Korean War. On January 20, 1942, he volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps and in April of that same year, then PFC Barber departed for the Pacific. He participated in landing assaults against strongly defended Japanese positions on islands of the Guadalcanal group in the British Solomon Islands. The First Marine Division, to which he was assigned, completely routed all the enemy forces and seized a valuable base and airfield in the Solomons. His Division received their first Presidential Unit Citation for their gallantry and resolve in successfully defeating the enemy.
Promoted to Corporal, Barber was again the thick of a landing assault over a treacherous coral reef against hostile mortar and artillery fire when the First Marine Division seized the island of Peleliu. By their individual acts of heroism, their aggressiveness and their fortitude, the men of the First Marine Division received their 2nd Presidential Unit Citation for these actions, while CPL Barber was awarded his first Purple Heart for a shrapnel wound received during the battle.
After being discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps, he enlisted as a Corporal in the U.S. Army. A member of the 82nd Airborne Division when the Korean War started, Sergeant Barber answered the call for Ranger volunteers and began training at Fort Benning, GA. Joining the 3rd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) on October 4th, 1950, Ranger Barber served as Platoon Sergeant of the 2nd and 1st Platoons during the first and second training cycles of 3rd Company.
Arriving in the Korean War zone on March 24th, 1951, the Company was attached to the 3rd Infantry Division. On April 11, 1951, the Company was given the mission of spearheading the Division advance. Clearing the village of Kantonghyon, Ranger Barber’s platoon was crossing open terraced paddies and came under heavy mortar and machine gun fire against a well defended enemy hill. Assuming command of the 1st Platoon when his Platoon Leader was wounded, Ranger Barber led his Rangers in a bayonet assault on the enemy entrenchments. Although wounded by a grenade fragment, Ranger Barber encouraged and led his men in continuous combat as they responded with individual acts of bravery, entered the enemy trenches, killed approximately seventeen enemy and captured one prisoner. Only eight Rangers (three not wounded), were able to continue onto the final objective 2,000 yards away and seize the hill (Bloody Nose Ridge).
For his aggressive leadership and gallantry in action this day, Ranger Barber was awarded the Silver Star and recommended fore a direct Commission. Ranger Barber was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on December 29th, 1951 and served on active duty and continuous jump status until his retirement on July 1, 1965. His personal actions and leadership in combat clearly demonstrated that Ranger Barber lived the Ranger Motto of displaying the intestinal fortitude required to fight onto the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the one survivor. Rangers Lead the Way!
In Life, Major Harold L. Barber would have shied away from having his accomplishments touted. He was a quiet, humble man that was fun to be around but seemed uncomfortable with attention that focused on him. However, it would be difficult not to acknowledge that Major Barber received two purple hearts and was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame located at Fort Benning, GA in 2006.
Major Barber kept close to his Bulloch County roots when he met and married Bobbie Mae Spence from Portal.
He is preceded in death by his father, Howard Harold Barber; his mother, Allie Parrish; his first wife, Bobbie Mae Spence Barber and his second wife, Mary Jimmy Jackson Barber. He is also predeceased by a son, Grover Earl Johnson Barber; a daughter, Brenda Kay Barber Newcomb and a son-in-law Mark Barronton.
Major Barber is survived and will be greatly missed by his sons: Harold Spence Barber of Ohio (Marla), William Keith Barber (Patti) of Statesboro, David Ronald West (Karen Minor) of Newnan and Joseph Russell West of Griffin. He will likewise be eternally loved and remembered by his daughters: Sandra Faye Barber Lewis of Statesboro and Deborah Eileen West Barronton of Newnan; his brother, Larry H. Barber of Atlanta and his sister Patsy Boatwright of Texas. He is also survived by several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great greatgrandchildren and nieces and nephews.
In light of the current situation, a celebration of life will be held at a later date.
Deal Funeral Directors, Statesboro, Georgia, is in charge of arrangements.