Military Hero: James Barnette
James Barnette is the March Military Hero.
VICTORIA, Texas – James Barnette is this month’s Military Hero.
The Victoria native and Victoria High School graduate was 18 years old when he was drafted into the military.
“I was drafted in the army and when I was going to the army recruiter, the air force recruiter called me over because they worked in the same building,” Barnette said. “He talked to me and from there, maybe a week later I was in basic training.”
The air force veteran worked as part of security police, transporting scientists and professors to military bases, as well as transporting prisoners of war to the military hospital in San Antonio.
“And it was a sad experience seeing those guys like that, it was traumatic,” Barnette said. “Some of them probably weighed 80 pounds. It was very sad back then, it was very sad for a young guy to see.”
He was also in Saigon before the Vietnam War ended in 1975.
He says protests were much more violent then than they are now.
“It was very violent, you not only, but you also had protestors against the Vietnam War, that’s where it all started,” Barnette said. “And all the air force bases were guarded every day and just about every weekend you see them down the highway, just hundreds, hundreds of people, just walking the highway between Wright-Patterson and Dayton, Ohio.”
The nightmares caused by his post-traumatic stress disorder didn’t begin until he started his retirement.
To other veterans suffering from PTSD, Barnette said it is important to seek help if you need it.
“Suicide is not the answer, love is the answer to everything. I lost a son in ’96 and I went downhill very quickly,” Barnette said. “I was at the verge but my family brought me back up to life. There’s no reason for a veteran to be homeless anywhere in the United States, the government is willing to help any veteran. You’ve got to reach out to them, they are not going to come to you, you have to go to them.”
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