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Military equips Barth for life of public service PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 11:18

“Everything I know today came from the military,” said Terry Barth, who served two tours in Vietnam, had a 20-year career in the Marines and is now active with the local veterans’ organizations and club.

“I wouldn’t trade my military experience for anything,” Barth added.

He acknowledges that he grew up while in the military. He learned lessons and got an education.

Barth said he believes every single kid in America should spend two to three years in active duty in order to grow up and to appreciate the freedom in America.

Barth was a technician—a very good one, at that. During his first Nam tour in 1965-66, his job was to keep the planes flying. He has a great deal of respect for those who saw and are seeing front-line duty, as that was not part of his responsibility.

As Veterans Day nears, the country is reminded that it’s a time to honor all veterans and current military personnel, no matter what their specific contribution to the U.S. military.


Barth was a young 18-year-old when he entered basic training in 1962

Barth admits he basically had never been off the farm when he graduated from high school in Holyoke in 1962 and entered the U.S. Marines.

He laughs when he recalls his recruiting officer coming out the day after his senior prom and he was hanging out in Lee Struckmeyer’s basement.

The recruiter went out to Barth’s home, where the family dog tore his britches. Barth said he did feel sorry for the guy. He signed up for the 120-day delay program with an aviation guarantee contract.

Barth ended up in the electronics field. After boot camp and infantry, he took 36 weeks of electronics training, including 20 weeks of avionics training in Memphis, Tenn., and 16 weeks of aviation electrician training in Jacksonville, Fla.

As a private in the Marine Corps at Jacksonville, Barth said he was living on beans and hambone, making $95 a month.

He then took a 16-week aviation electrician class, where he came out first in the class. He made his private first class stripes and earned lance corporal rank meritoriously as he came out of school.

Assigned to VMFA-115, a fighter attack squadron, from June of 1964 to June of 1965, Barth and crew received intensive training to go to Vietnam.

At that time, Barth said they flew their planes to Atsugi, Japan. They closed down Atsugi, then went to Iwakuni, Japan, before going into Da Nang, Vietnam, in October of 1965. The Marines shared an air base with the Air Force in Da Nang.

F4 Phantoms flew regular drills for three months until real combat started in January of 1966, according to Barth.

As a technician, Barth just kept the planes flying in Vietnam. He said he carried a rifle for 13 months but wasn’t allowed to have ammunition on his body.

Barth said he learned real fast that the planes were where it was safe. Off base, kids would put hand grenades on their trucks.

Barth was plenty satisfied to keep the planes flying. He credits his mechanical inclinations to his heritage of growing up on the farm.

In July of 1966, Barth’s squadron returned to the states and he was assigned to a station operation and engineer squadron in Cherry Point, N.C.

His purpose there was to keep the World War II planes and search and air rescue helicopters running.

From 1967-68, Barth was a tactical data systems computer technician. He trained at the Marine Corps training base in Twentynine Palms, Calif., and was then assigned to the Marine Corps logistics base in Albany, Ga.

He said they supported eye-in-the-sky technology to give generals a picture of control aircraft in combat situations.

From 1970-71, Barth was senior maintenance manager for tactical data systems in New River, N.C. He had made E-7 gunnery sergeant rank by then.

Barth is quick to admit he wasn’t a very good student in high school, but he applied himself in college and graduated cum laude from Pensacola Junior College in Pensacola, Fla., where he attended from 1971-73.

He earned an associate degree in electrical and electronic engineering technology.

In 1973, Barth took an instructional course in San Diego, Calif., then was assigned to Twentynine Palms as a senior instructor for tactical data system computer technician courses for a year.

At that point, he was one of 200 accepted for limited duty office, based on his technical skills. Because they were temporary limited duty, they could be reverted back to enlisted status at any time.

As a result, he had to continue to apply for all enlisted promotions. So by the end of his service in 1982, Barth had attained E-8 or master sergeant rank and warrant officer ranks CWO1 and CWO2.

He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1974.

As an electronics maintenance officer from 1974-75, Barth was with the 9th communication battalion in Camp Hansen, Okinawa.



Terry Barth is pictured at the Vets Club, where he volunteers his services as manager in order to preserve profits for the community and building upkeep.  

—Enterprise photo


During that time, he said, they cleaned out Saigon, and he was very successful in commandeering vessels to evacuate political refugees from Saigon.

The refugees were loaded onto cargo vessels and taken to an island off Thailand where they were staged for disbursements to other countries.

As part of the Pentagon from 1975-79, Barth was the key project officer in the life-cycle planning, budgeting and procurement of mobile electric power, tactical air conditioners and associated equipment for the entire Marine Corps.

He said he was hand-picked to go to Washington, D.C., for the position and was stationed in Rosslyn, Va.

He was responsible for reviewing and analyzing technical hardware requirements and software requirements and proposals. He generated, organized and supervised performance of all integrated logistics support requirements and represented the Marine Corps on the Department of Defense configuration control board for mobile electric power.

Next up for Barth in his military path was a three-year stint as director of the information systems department at the Marine Corps base in Twentynine Palms.

He was assigned to interface with Dr. Evans, who was known as the father of mastery learning.

Barth was responsible for all aspects from planning to implementation of software, courseware and hardware to support a 260-terminal computer-aided/computer-managed interactive instruction system.

The system was to train and manage a daily student load of 1,200 entry-level students, 400 secondary-level students and 500 instructors and administration personnel.

He explained that their purpose was to develop a system, using computer power, to test the recruits designated for their squadron to determine the best media that they might learn by before they arrived.

They worked on the philosophy that everyone learns 100 percent of the material and can’t go on until they pass the test at 100 percent.

Barth said they laid about 500 miles of cable, ran video on Sony TVs and ran audio wires back and forth—all with equipment that would be considered highly antiquated today.

He said they put in 500 terminals and labs, while teaching classes along the way.

It was at that point, in 1982, that Barth completed his active duty with the Marine Corps, retiring as a captain with 20 years of experience.


Service continues in Holyoke

For the next eight years after his retirement from active duty, Barth served as senior program manager for Magnetek Defense Systems.

He used the knowledge and experience from his Marines service to move into the position where he was responsible for a logistics support department to support government contract requirements.

From 1990-2002, he and his wife Vernette ran their own retail sales and service company, B and B Sewing and Vacuum Center, in Lake Elsinore, Calif.

A return to his hometown of Holyoke in 2002 found Barth taking a year’s sabbatical before serving as materials management department manager at Melissa Memorial Hospital from 2003-10.

With public service as his motive, Barth became involved in the veterans’ posts in Holyoke when he returned.

He has served as commander of VFW Post #6482 for 10 years, has been chairman of the board for Holyoke Vets Club, Inc. for seven years and this past year has taken over as commander of American Legion Post #90.

He said it is definitely not the best scenario for him to be the commander and chairman of all, but that’s the way it has worked out.

Two years ago, Barth took over the role of running the Vets Club on a volunteer basis in order to preserve funds for Holyoke Vets Club, Inc. He acknowledges that it’s not popular with everyone, but the profits for the organization make it worthwhile.

Barth said he works about 100 hours a week, and his wife puts in about 40.

Citing that a paid manager would eat up all profit, Barth is pleased with the community projects and building updates that can be accomplished with the Vets Club profits.

Public service is what it’s about, and Barth volunteers his time so the local programs can continue.


Holyoke Enterprise November 7, 2013