Face of Defense: Former Marine Gets Medal For Heroism
By Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., Mar. 6, 2012 With some prodding from his son, Charles P. Barrett Jr. finally received the recognition the Marine Corps says he was due for his actions 60 years ago.
Marine Corps Col. Michael L. Lawrence, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Calif., pins the Navy and Marine Corps Medal on Charles P. Barrett, Jr., on Feb. 24, 2012. Barrett was recognized for his prompt action and courage during the Korean War. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
On May 13, 1951 during the Korean War, then Marine Corps Cpl. Barrett was on refueling duties for a night combat operation when his fuel truck caught fire.
Rather than jump out of the burning truck, Barrett successfully drove it off the airfield, through a construction barrier and clear of all munitions before exiting the vehicle.
“His loyal devotion to duty in the face of great personal risk was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service,” according to the Navy and Marine Corps Medal citation signed by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.
Barrett’s prompt action and courage was recognized because of his son’s diligence.
“Three years ago, I found his service records in his shed, and saw that he had all these medals and awards,” said Charles P. Barrett III. “I finally said, ‘Dad, you have to tell me what you went through.’”
Among other stories, Barrett told his son that paperwork had been completed saying he rated the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, but it was missing from his service record. His son began writing to Headquarters Marine Corps and military historians to track down a copy of a citation found in a storage box indicating he did rate it.
“By his prompt action and courage, he avoided the disaster which would undoubtedly have resulted from the subsequent explosion of the truck’s cargo of gasoline which, due to his foresight, occurred without injury to aircraft or personnel,” according to the citation.
Closing the award ceremony, Barrett passed on words of wisdom to the attending Marines.
“We had a good, tight group of people that knew the seriousness of our mission and lived it safely,” Barrett said. “I have it in my mind that the Marine Corps is that way today. I see it and nobody’s going to tell me any different.”