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Shelby County, Texas lost her eighth son; to the Vietnam War, Private First Class Jimmy D. Barnett seven months after the explosion aboard the USS Forrestal that took the life of Ray Chatelain. Jimmy was drafted in the US Army in May, 1967 from Houston, Texas and completed his basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. His military occupation specialty (MOS) was 11B10, Light Weapons Infantry. He was assigned to D Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade.
PFC Barnett and his comrades arrived in Vietnam on Sunday, January 7th, 1968. Less than three months later he would be killed in action at the age of 25 on Tuesday, March 26th, 1968 in a land mine explosion in the Quang Ngai Province of South Vietnam during the Tet Counteroffensive.
An undated and unnamed newspaper article with photo from Ancestry.com stated that the family was notified of his death at 9 am on Thursday, March 28th, 1968 and his wife Jimmie had not received any details. Delivering the tragic news to the family who lived in Vidor, Texas was a Sergeant Self of Beaumont, Texas. Surviving at that time besides his wife were two daughters, Tina age 4 and Wanda age 2; three sisters, Lois Lamar and Zandra Barnett of Vidor and Alice Stark of Beaumont; one brother, Jerry Dale Barnett of Vidor and his grandmother Mrs. B. V. Eaves of Houston.
His parents Mr. J. D. Barnett and Bessie Lois Eaves Barnett were married on December 16th, 1939. The 1940 census showed that they lived with Mrs. Barnett’s parents on Ashton Road in Shelby County and his father’s occupation was listed as log cutter. Jimmy was born in Joaquin, Texas on February 28th, 1943 and lived there until at the age of 14 when his family moved to Houston in 1957 and to Vidor, Texas a year later. He and wife Jimmie were married in 1962.
In a recent phone conversation with his sister Alice Leavings, she remembers him as being very playful with children, liking rock and roll music and loving horses. She said Jimmy loved to visit their grandmother’s ranch in Madisonville, Texas where he would ride all day. Alice said her mother Bessie dreamed of her son’s dying and knew when it happened.
His friend Bernice Simmons who lives in Montgomery, Louisiana left this public message on the Wall-USA in March 2004. “To my close friend Jimmy. He was a fun loving person. He loved his cars and was kindhearted. He loved fishing and was a wonderful friend”.
Jimmy is also honored at the Veteran’s Park in Vidor, Texas that was dedicated on Veteran’s Day, 2012. He was not on our original VFW Post 8904 “Roll Call of Honor” that we use each Memorial Day and I found his gravesite at the Jackson Cemetery by accident in November 2013 while on a photography visit. I like to think it was Divine Guidance. The name of PFC Jimmy Dalton Barnett was added and read during our Memorial Day Observance this year (2014) and a special red flower was placed on the memorial wreath in his honor by Senior Vice Commander Newton Johnson, Jr. (USMC, Vietnam Veteran). We are proud to have found you Jimmy, “Welcome Home Brother”.
References: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Wall of Faces; The Virtual wall, profile: Ancestry.com, and the Wall-USA.