09 November 2007

A Tribute to Jedh Colby Barker

The President of the United States
in the name of the Congress of the United States takes pride in presenting the
Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
for service as set forth in the following

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machine gunner with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines. During a reconnaissance operation L/Cpl. Barker's squad was suddenly hit by enemy sniper fire. The squad immediately deployed to a combat formation and advanced to a strongly fortified enemy position, when it was again struck by small arms and automatic weapons fire, sustaining numerous casualties. Although wounded by the initial burst of fire, L/Cpl. Barker boldly remained in the open, delivering a devastating volume of accurate fire on the numerically superior force. The enemy was intent upon annihilating the small Marine force and, realizing that L/Cpl. Barker was a threat to their position, directed the preponderance of their fire on his position. He was again wounded, this time in the right hand, which prevented him from operating his vitally needed machinegun. Suddenly and without warning, an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the few surviving Marines. Unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his personal safety, L/Cpl. Barker threw himself upon the deadly grenade, absorbing with his body the full and tremendous force of the explosion. In a final act of bravery, he crawled to the side of a wounded comrade and administered first aid before succumbing to his grievous wounds. His bold initiative, intrepid fighting spirit and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of almost certain death undoubtedly saved his comrades from further injury or possible death and reflected great credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Park Ridge Marine made ultimate sacrifice
(by Kathryn A. Burger - September 19, 2007)
"Jedh…Most athletic senior…ladies’ man…loves to have a good time." Those words are next to Jedh Barker’s photo in Park Ridge High School’s 1964 yearbook.

Three years later, Lance Corporal Jedh Colby Barker, United States Marine Corps, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division was serving in Vietnam. On Sept. 21, 1967, he threw himself on a grenade to save his fellow Marines, and although gravely injured, crawled to the side of a wounded comrade and administered first aid before succumbing to his wounds.

In 1969, in a White House ceremony, his family was presented with his Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a United States citizen.

Early years
Cpl. Barker was born in Franklin, New Hampshire in 1945. His father, Colby, served in the Marine Corps during World War II and the first name, "Jedh" is a combination of the first initials of his father’s Marine buddies: John Ezekial, Donald and Herbert.

When he was 6, his family moved to Park Ridge. During his years at Park Ridge High School, he distinguished himself in team sports including football and baseball, serving as co-captain of the former his senior year. In retrospect, his ability to lead and at the same time, be cognizant of the team dynamic so essential to success demonstrated the qualities he would later apply to his Marine service.
Semper fideles

After two years of college, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in June of 1966. In October, he was discharged from the Reserves to enlist in the regular Marine Corps. He did his recruit training at Parris Island, S.C., and underwent individual combat training and weapons special training at Camp Lejeune, N.C. In December, he was promoted to private first class.
From March to June, 1967, he was a member of Marine Air Base Squadron 21, in San Francisco. He was subsequently re-assigned as a machine gunner with Company F and sent to Vietnam. He was promoted to lance corporal on Sept. 1.

That Cpl. Barker chose to be a Marine while protests against the war were being staged across the country and many young men fled the country rather than face the draft, speaks to his personal character and the sense of duty demonstrated by his father, who served with distinction during World Ward II. In an interview with Scott Hilyard of the Franklin, N.H. "Monitor" in 1990, his parents said he could have avoided Vietnam because his older brother, Warren, was already there. He was a Marine, too; a major. His father said, "Jeddy’s commanding officer let him meet his brother over there." Three months later, "Jeddy" was dead.

Perpetual remembrance
The bravery and ultimate sacrifice of Lance Corporal Jedh C. Barker has been memorialized in many ways.

In the months after his death, the then-Pascack Valley American Legion Post 153 in Park Ridge resolved to rename the post in his honor and memory and it has been the Jedh C. Barker Memorial American Legion Post 153 every since. His name is engraved on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Holmdel.

In 1976, the Marine Corps named a new building in his honor. Barker Hall is located at Marine Corps Base Quanitco, Virginia. In a letter to the family, the commanding general said naming the building in their son’s honor, "will assist in perpetuating the memory of your son, Jedh, in the proud history of our Corps, and is a special recognition of an individual Marine who helped write that history."

A plaque honoring his sacrifice is displayed in Franklin’s borough hall. In addition to the text of the Medal of Honor Citation, it bears this inscription: "Presented Nov. 11, 1990 by the townspeople of Franklin, NH, Franklin VFW Post 1698 and auxiliary and the Massachusetts chapter of the Third Marine Division Association in grateful appreciation to a Franklin, NH resident who was awarded the Medal of Honor for exemplary heroism."

He will be forever remembered by those who knew him as a beloved son and brother, a team player, a loyal friend; and to all who know of his sacrifice, a hero in the truest sense of the word.

He is buried in George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus. His grave marker reads simply:
1945 - 1967
40 years on
American Legion Post 153 will host a celebration of Cpl. Barker’s life and honor his memory at a special event on Thursday, Sept. 27. The post has organized the hour-long program to honor and acknowledge the life and death of this Marine and to accept the Medal of Honor from his family. It will be henceforth on permanent display at the post that bears his name.
The public is invited to attend.
The keynote speaker will be Lt. General Anthony Lukeman (Ret.) who served in Vietnam during Cpl. Barker’s tour of duty. A color guard from the Marine Corps League will be present. Included in the program will be a video of the Medal of Honor presentation.
The program will begin at 7 p.m.; seating at 6:30 p.m. The post is located at 118 Ridge Avenue.
Jedh Colby Barker Lance Corporal WPNS PLT, F CO, 2ND BN, 4TH MARINES, 3RD MARDIV United States Marine Corps20 June 1945 - 21 September 1967 Park Ridge, New Jersey Panel 26E Line 099

23 Nov 2002
LCpl Barker was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions near Con Thien on 21 September 1967.
From a Brother in Combat, Fox 2/4,John E Mongiove

17 Aug 2006
I wrote this as a tribute to Jedh in a column I write for a local paper. It was published in 2003.

It was in late September of 1967 that reality finally grabbed me by the throat and dragged me into a consciousness I would rather have avoided. I won't say that I was totally inattentive to what was going on outside of my existence, but I was like most thirteen-year-olds who get wrapped up in the details of their daily lives and tend to be oblivious to what is going on in the rest of the world. Or even next door.

In 1967, I spent the summer painting the redwood basket weave fence in my parents' backyard, listening to great summer songs like "Groovin" by the Young Rascals, "Happy Together" by the Turtles and "Respect" by Aretha Franklin. College students were protesting the war in Viet Nam, but my friends and I kept busy riding our sting ray bikes with the banana seats around town, "popping wheelies" and looking for whatever adventure could be found within the confines of the tri-town area we roamed. We camped out in the woods overnight, we fished in Electric Lake and we started to learn how to play tennis, making up the rules as we went along.

While the days were always fun because of our adventures, evenings and nights were magical somehow. Like never before, we were allowed to go out after dark, whether at my house or over at my friends'. It wasn't that we were just out after dark, but we were allowed to stay out late, traversing the neighborhoods and enjoying newfound freedom that we had never before experienced. The summer seemed to be endless back then, and while our days were full, they didn't rush by, as they do now. There was time for playing, working and just laying in the grass, looking up at the clouds. Life was good when you were thirteen years old and living in the United States of America in the late 1960's.

As August meandered by, I came to understand the significance of the fact that this was the summer before my last year in grammar school. I was heading into eighth grade, and I knew that it was going to be a special time. For years, I had waited to be in eighth grade. Eight years to be exact. Eighth graders were cool. No upper classmen to deal with, we would be in charge. I knew that the freedom I was experiencing that summer was connected to the fact that I was now a much more mature individual, capable of being successful in the eighth grade and being in charge of all those first through seventh graders. I also knew that the return to school brought with it a return to organized activities, both social and athletic.

And so, as September approached, bringing with it a return to the dreaded classroom, it also brought countless possibilities for new experiences and exploits, the best of which was my favorite sport, Football. That almost made going back to school worthwhile. While the summer represented carefree fun and idle hours, September meant a return to conditioning and the structure of organized sports, and the chance to be a hero on the gridiron. We would practice two afternoons during the week, and play our games on Saturday morning. My friends and I often traveled to practice together, driven by a parent or coach, because the field was across town, and, as the season wore on, darkness came earlier and travel by bicycle was more precarious.

I seem to remember it was a Thursday, but it could have been any day. We were driving along, heading to practice, and as we drove by the high school, I saw a spray of flowers in front of the brick and mortar sign at the entrance to the school. This isn't something I would necessarily have taken notice of, or even mentioned, but on this particular day, I did. I said to no one in particular, "What's with the flowers at the high school?" and one of my friends said, "Didn't you hear? Jedh Barker was killed in Viet Nam."
Jedh Barker was my first baseball coach. He was a fresh-faced 17-year-old when I first met him, and he made me feel like a part of the team. He was one of those "big kids" I looked up to when I was small, and he helped me feel good about myself. Now, at 22, he was dead. A victim of a war on the other side of the world that I knew about, but hoped would never touch me.

From that day on, Memorial Day has always had a deeper meaning for me. I hate war and the things it does to those involved and those touched by it, but I have a deep and abiding respect for the people who serve in the defense of our country, and make the ultimate sacrifice when called. It is because of them that I was able to enjoy the freedom I was starting to experience.

It turned out that Jedh died as a hero. After being wounded in combat, he saved the lives of his remaining comrades by throwing himself on a live hand grenade that was tossed into the area that they were defending. For his courage and bravery, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, and the final sentence of the citation reads: "He gallantly gave his life for his country". Like many who went before him, he lives on in the hearts of those who knew him.

From a friend,Tom Banischmailto:tbanisch@cshore.com?subject=Via

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