Billy H. Barber
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Chesapeake - Lieutenant Colonel Billy Hudson Barber, United States Marine Corp (retired), was born January 23, 1923 in San Antonio, Texas as the youngest of four sons of Gordon and Eula Barber. He is survived by his wife Virginia, son William, daughter Vicki, three grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren. He was a proud and accomplished Marine officer and businessman.
He entered the Navy's flight program just after Pearl Harbor, and upon graduation, the Marine Corps commissioned him a Second Lieutenant and assigned him to Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 245, deployed to Midway Island in the war against Japan. In 1944 the squadron was redeployed to the Gilbert and then the Marshall Islands where he flew the SBD Dauntless dive bomber on missions against Imperial Japanese positions for which he was awarded half a dozen Air Medals. He also received his first Distinguished Flying Cross for "heroism or extraordinary achievement in an aerial flight." In February 1945 he was assigned as Officer in Charge of Marine Fighter Squadron 452 and flew the F4U Corsair into combat.
After the war, he was assigned as flight instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola where he proudly received his regular commission and promotion to Captain. In 1948 he was assigned to Marine Fighter Squadron 222 flying the F4U aboard carrier. In the Korean War, he was assigned to Headquarter Squadron 1st Marine Air Wing and then in 1952 to Marine Observation Squadron 6 where he directed the broadsides of the battleship Missouri against advancing Chinese infantry. He recalled the whistling of the 16-inch projectiles tumbling past his tiny canvas and aluminum plane and the terrible devastation those shells inflicted.
After the war, he was assigned to Amphibious Warfare School and then was sent back to flying with Marine Transport Squadron, VMR 252 in Iwakuni, Japan. In 1957 he was assigned to VMR 353 in Opa-locka, FL. Then in July 1958 all Marine Corps transport aircraft were flown into the Crisis in Lebanon. His plane took anti-aircraft fire while landing with combat troops who helped secure the Beirut airport.
He took command of VMR 353 for 1960 and 1961 and led his planes to destinations all over the Western Hemisphere and beyond. His squadron accompanied President Eisenhower on the goodwill missions to South America for which he received a special commendation. He was then assigned to Fleet Marine Force Atlantic in 1962 as G2 (Intelligence) Operations Officer, and he would analyze the photographs of the missiles in Cuba before they were sent to President Kennedy. He was scheduled to land in Cuba with the 2nd assault wave of the invasion that never happened.
In 1965 as Lieutenant Colonel he was sent to Da Nang, Vietnam as the Assistant Chief of Staff, G2 Officer, 1st Marine Air Wing where he created new protocols for analyzing aerial photography of the North Vietnamese Army incursions. As a result, he was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat V "for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements." At other times he saw duty with various military schools including Quantico Command and Staff College, and various staff assignments overseas and in the States. Other than the Legion of Merit, he was awarded a total of two Distinguished Flying Crosses, eight Air Medals for combat missions, two Letters of Commendation with Combat V as a commanding officer before retiring after 24 years of duty in May 1967.
Following his military career he was President of Bush Realty Corporation, Property Management. Later he was President of Lawson Realty, Property Management. He served as Chairman of the Tidewater Apartment Council and Board Member of the Better Business Bureau, plus other civic activities. He was an active member of Woodland Heights Baptist Church, and served as Treasurer for 14 years. He was member of Military Officers Association and Marine Corps Aviation Association. He was a brave man. An exceptional leader. A dam good husband, father and friend. He will be inurned in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Semper Fidelis.
Published in The Virginian Pilot on Mar. 31, 2013