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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Joe Barnes, Sr., USAFJuly 08, 1930 – April 14, 1981
Information provided by his grandson, Thomas Flores
Joe Barnes, Sr. was from Nashville, Tennessee.
He originally enlisted in the USMC and was an aircraft mechanic. I know he was stationed at Cherry Point and worked on Pappy Boyington’s plane. I know he was stationed in Tripoli, Libya.
He was on a helicopter that was sent to recover/investigate the wreckage of the B-24 “Lady Be Good”.
When the USAF was formed, Joe enlisted. He served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars with the Air/Sea rescue (parajumpers….I’m guessing here). I believe he was a helicopter mechanic. I know that the NC Forestry Service would call him about problems with their choppers. I remember one time that he told the guy to hold the phone up so he could hear the engine noise of the chopper. He then told them what he thought was wrong. He enrolled in a forestry program at Wayne Community College and was hoping to become a forester….or he might have been hoping to become a Ranger. I do know that he was going to work on their helicopters when he graduated.
Unfortunately, in 1980, Joe was diagnosed with lung cancer. Joe Barnes, Sr. passed away on April 14th, 1981. He was buried with full military honors, including a fly over by F-4’s from the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. I was 13 when he died. Joe was larger than life to me.
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