George Albert "Al" Barnes
(1915-1979) was born August 11, 1915 to Henry Evert and Jennie Ida Nord
Edwardsville, Illinios. As a babe in arms the family moved to
California where Henry worked in the oil industry in the boom town of
Fellows, California. Later the family moved to Ventura, California where
George became an avid body surfer. Later moving to
Taft, California where he
Taft Union High School and completed his Bachelor of Arts at Taft Junior
College. He and his father founded the Barnes and Barnes Real Estate and
Insurance business in Taft based on his broker's license. He married
Johnette Henrici in 1938. When he enlisted in the Army Air Corps on 24 June
1942 he was twenty-seven and the father of two children. His crew later
called him the "Old Man." Preflight was at Santa Ana, California - Primary
at King City, California - Basic at Chino, California - Advanced at Stockton
Field, California - PBY transition training at Pensacola, Florida -
and Navigation at Selma, Louisiana. While he was in Pensacola for the
"Catalina" qualification. Al was a passenger in a car wreck that caused a pretty
substantial scar on his right cheek. That turned out to be the only injury
he sustained while in the service! He earned both the Army Air Corps wings
and Naval Aviator's wings, graduating from class 43-C on the 10 March 1943.
Other graduates from this class that were members of the 2nd ERS were
Jarvis T. Yagla and Charles F. "Chuck" Tully. Al did
not fly an aircraft from California to New Guinea, rather leaving on the 30
April 1944 he was a passenger on the
M.S. Roseville [see
roster] with the rest of the ground echelon. The ship arrived at
Milne Bay, New Guinea on 28 May 1944.
Al served in the Pacific theater with the Second
Emergency Rescue Squadron as a pilot and Operation's Officer. He flew
Eighty-Four (84) combat missions and over six hundred thirty (630) hours of flight time.
received the Distinguished
Flying Cross and the Air
letter written to his wife] with 5 oak leaf clusters [1st,
Medal][4th][5th] and noted for
gallantry while overseas. One notable rescue mission took seventeen (17)
hours to accomplish and ended with being fired upon by their own troops
which necessitated a twenty (20) mile circle to land! Al was sent home in
June 1945 due to not being rehabilitated from his one leave in Sydney. [see
wore a pair of his wife's nylons around his neck when he flew, for good
luck. The crew always made sure he had those nylons on before they took off!
He said those nylons were green with mold when he finally got back
fter returning home he continued his career in
Taft as a business owner. He enjoyed hobbies of golf, fishing, hunting, and
watching pretty much any sport and was a member of the
Kiwanis Club and the
BPOE. He and Johnette had three children; a daughter Ann and two sons,
Ralph and Daniel. They were supporters of Taft and participated in many
civic functions. They built a home on sixty (60) acres in Cuyama
Valley and enjoyed good times with family and friends there. Al passed away
on the 19 November 1979 in Taft at the age of sixty-four (64) of heart failure. His beloved wife Johnette
joined him in 2001.
[See all of Al Barnes'
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