Spur Rifle Platoon Sergeant, CSM (Ret)
4 Aug 31 - 15 Feb 07
Photo courtesy of June 2007 Spur newsletter
Bill at 2006 Spur Reunion at Dothan, Alabama
Photo courtesy of Charlie Helms
Obituary/Guestbook for CSM Billy J. Barber
Courtesy of Pryor Funeral Home
Spur Rifles - 1967
SFC Billy Barber in center with sunglasses,
is looking at pictures
Courtesy of Bill Barber - CSM (Ret.)
25 July 2006
Command Sergeant Major Billy J. Barber
East Bank, West Virginia 25067
As you cross yet another milestone along that road called "LIFE," my memory goes back to some forty years ago. I do not recall specifically when you arrived in A Troop, 3rd Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry, because it just seems that you were always there. From your assignment/arrival, life for you was a race against time to fill the platoon, assign the real people to the structured jobs, and to incessantly train in preparation for deployment.
Long before there was any reason to expect that we would experience such heartache, your platoon and the troop were plunged into the depths of despair. Our losses were of a magnitude seldom experienced by units even in the fiercest combat. This devastating experience would have rendered most units combat ineffective, causing them to have to start over from scratch. Like the legendary phoenix, your platoon rose from the ashes and, after reconstituting and retraining, deployed on schedule with the rest of the squadron, and hit the ground running upon our arrival in Vietnam. It was to a very large degree due to your leadership, counseling, and constant encouragement that this was possible.
You took very young men to Vietnam and you brought home seasoned veterans. Wise beyond your years, you were a father figure to them. Whether obtained from many years of hard-earned experience or pure intuitive knowledge is irrelevant; the results were the same. Your platoon served with valor and distinction, and you still brought most of them home. Not the least of your leadership by example was the opportunity you had, mid-tour, when you reached ETS to return home but chose, unhesitatingly, to reenlist in theater and remain with your troops, returning to the States with them.
That would be the end of the story for most platoons, but, in this case, it is not. Many of the men were discharged and went their separate ways - only to start coming back together some 30 years later.
In the meantime, after being reassigned from the troop, your continued rise in the ranks to Command Sergeant Major reflects your continued contribution to the Army and our Nation.
Many of the troopers have now assembled several times to visit with each other and to reflect on their earlier years together. These recent assemblies, or reunions, were in large measure the product of your tireless and creative efforts to locate them, with all the skills of a Sherlock Holmes, and to get them to attend, with all the persuasion of a pit bull.
We are all better men for having served - and for having served with each other - and for the dedication, devotion, and leadership which you provided.
Nathan M. Pulliam
Colonel, US Army Retired
Silver Spur 6
December 1966 - March 1968
Department of the Army
Headquarters 9th Infantry Division
APO San Francisco 96370
22 November 1968
AWARD OF THE SILVER STAR
1. TC 320. The following AWARD is announced.
BARBER, BILLY J. RA13433945 (SSAN: xxx-xx-xxxx) PLATOON SERGEANT E7 United States Army, Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 1st Aviation Brigade, APO 96289 For gallantry in action involving close combat against an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam: Platoon Sergeant Barber distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 13 August 1968 while serving as the Aerorifle Platoon Sergeant of Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, on a reconnaissance in force mission. After his unit had been inserted to block a possible enemy escape route, they came into heavy contact with a Viet Cong force and Sergeant Barber courageously exposed himself to the hostile fire as he maneuvered his men in an assault on the enemy emplacements. After he had secured this area, another unit was inserted and he and his men were moved to another area where they again made contact. When the enemy tried to outflank them in their new position, Sergeant Barber again exposed himself to the hostile fire as he directed gunship strikes, which halted the enemy advance. Platoon Sergeant Barber's extraordinary heroism in close combat against a armed hostile force is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.
Awarded: Silver Star
Date action: 13 August 1968
Theater: Republic of Vietnam
Authority: By direction of the President under the provisions of the Act of Congress, approved 9 July 1918, and USARV message 16695, dated 1 July 1966.
FOR THE COMMANDER:
IRA A. HUNT, JR.
Chief of Staff
L. M. MILLER