Morehead in Rowan County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)
Capt. William E. Barber, USMC
Recipient, Medal of Honor
A native of nearby Morgan County, Capt. Barber received our nation's highest decoration for bravery for heroically leading his Marine rifle company in a desperate five-day defense of a frozen mountain pass vital to the 1st Marine Division's breakout to the sea in December 1950 in the Chosin Reservoir campaign of the Korean War. Fighting in sub-zero weather against overwhelming odds, he was wounded on the first night of action, but refused evacuation and remained in action in command of his company. He was presented the Medal of Honor by President Truman at the White House on August 20, 1952.
By Tom Bosse
1. Capt. William E. Barber, USMC Marker
A World War II veteran and former paramarine, Barber earned the Silver Star Medal and his first of two Purple Hearts as a second lieutenant at Iwo Jima, where he disregarded his own wounds and direct fire to rescue two wounded Marines from enemy territory. He also received the Legion of Merit for his service in Vietnam.
Barber enrolled at what is now Morehead State University after graduating from high school but interrupted his studies to enlist in the Marines in 1940. He returned to MSU while on active duty and earned a bachelor's degree in 1964. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1970 at the rank of colonel. He died in 2002 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. (Erected Veterans Day 2008))
By Tom Bosse, November 4, 2017
2. Capt. William E. Barber, USMC Marker
Marker series. This marker is included in the Medal of Honor Recipients marker series.
Location. 38° 11.181′ N, 83° 26.107′ W. Marker is in Morehead, Kentucky, in Rowan County. Marker can be reached from University Boulevard south of Elizabeth Avenue, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in front of Camden-Carroll Library. Marker is in this post office area: Morehead KY 40351, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. First Building And Land (a few steps from this marker); First Faculty And Staff (within shouting distance of this marker); National Register Historic District / Morehead State University (within shouting distance of this marker); The Bluejackets (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Quilting Memories (approx. 0.2 miles away); County Named, 1856 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Courthouse Burned (approx. 0.2 miles away); Allie Young Law Office (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Morehead.
Also see . . .
1. Barber, William E. (Submitted on July 12, 2018, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee.)
2. William E. Barber. (Submitted on July 12, 2018, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee.)
Categories. • Heroes •
Photo courtesy of the USMC
3. Capt. William E. Barber, USMC
By Don Morfe, November 12, 2003
4. Capt. William E. Barber, USMC Grave Marker
He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Section 66, Site 6904. The GPS
coordinates are N38.8749 W77.0661. His Medal of Honor information and citation is:
BARBER, WILLIAM E.
• Rank and organization: Captain U.S. Marine Corps, commanding officer, Company F, 2d Battalion 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.).
• Place and date: Chosin Reservoir area, Korea, 28 November to 2 December 1950.
• Entered service at: West Liberty, Ky.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of Company F in action against enemy aggressor forces. Assigned to defend a 3-mile mountain pass along the division's main supply line and commanding the only route of approach in the march from Yudam-ni to Hagaru-ri, Capt. Barber took position with his battle-weary troops and, before nightfall, had dug in and set up a defense along the frozen, snow-covered hillside. When a force of estimated regimental strength savagely attacked during the night, inflicting heavy casualties and finally surrounding his position following a bitterly fought 7-hour conflict, Capt. Barber, after repulsing the enemy gave assurance that he could hold if supplied by airdrops and requested permission to stand fast when orders were received by radio to fight his way back to a relieving force after 2 reinforcing units had been driven back under fierce resistance in their attempts to reach the isolated troops. Aware that leaving the position would sever contact with the 8,000 marines trapped at Yudam-ni and jeopardize their chances of joining the 3,000 more awaiting their arrival in Hagaru-ri for the continued drive to the sea, he chose to risk loss of his command rather than sacrifice more men if the enemy seized control and forced a renewed battle to regain the position, or abandon his many wounded who were unable to walk. Although severely wounded in the leg in the early morning of the 29th, Capt. Barber continued to maintain personal control, often moving up and down the lines on a stretcher to direct the defense and consistently encouraging and inspiring his men to supreme efforts despite the staggering opposition. Waging desperate battle throughout 5 days and 6 nights of repeated onslaughts launched by the fanatical aggressors, he and his heroic command accounted for approximately 1,000 enemy dead in this epic stand in bitter subzero weather, and when the company was relieved only 82 of his original 220 men were able to walk away from the position so valiantly defended against insuperable odds. His profound faith and courage, great personal valor, and unwavering fortitude were decisive factors in the successful withdrawal of the division from the deathtrap in the Chosin Reservoir sector and reflect the highest credit upon Capt. Barber, his intrepid officers and men, and the U.S. Naval Service.
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Credits. This page was last revised on July 15, 2018. This page originally submitted on July 12, 2018, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 65 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on July 12, 2018, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. 4. submitted on July 15, 2018, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.