“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Terrebonne in Jefferson County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)

Colonel Rex T. Barber Memorial

Colonel Rex T. Barber Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Douglass Halvorsen, June 21, 2015
1. Colonel Rex T. Barber Marker
first panel

Rex T. Barber was one of 16 fighter pilots who participated in the famous - and then Top Secret - “Yamamoto” mission, which helped turn the tide of World War II against the Japanese.

Born in Culver, Oregon, in 1917, Barber attended Linfield College in McMinnville, then Oregon State College in Corvallis, majoring in Agricultural Engineering.

With the war looming, Rex Barber - like thousands of other patriotic young Americans - left school late in 1940 to join the U.S. Army Air Corps, earning his pilot's wings and his commission as a second lieutenant.

Lt. Barber was aboard a ship halfway to Hawaii when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Early in 1942, Barber's unit, the 70th Fighter Squadron, arrived on Fiji, where they trained under the guidance of “...the most wonderful commander I ever had,” Major John W. Mitchell. Taking command of the new 339th Fighter Squadron on Guadalcanal Island late in 1942, Mitchell brought Rex Barber and other top fighter pilots with him.

The Yamamoto Mission
On April 18,
Colonel Rex T. Barber Memorial Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Douglass Halvorsen, June 21, 2015
2. Colonel Rex T. Barber Memorial Marker
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1943, Lt. Barber and 15 others under Major Mitchell's command took off from Guadalcanal. Their daring mission was to intercept and shoot down Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander in Chief of the Combined Fleet of the Japanese Imperial Navy - the man who planned and led the Pearl Harbor attack.

After more than two tense hours of flight at wave top level over 435 miles of open ocean, the 16 Lockheed P-38 Lightnings engaged Yamamoto's flight of two bombers and six escort fighters. Barber boldly pulled in only 100 feet behind Yamamoto's aircraft. Slowing his fighter at extreme personal risk, he raked the Japanese bomber with fire, killing Admiral Yamamoto and most of of his key staff. For his heroism, Lt. Barber earned the Navy Cross.

Barber then volunteered to fly against the Japanese in China. He flew 28 combat missions in P-38s until he was shot down in April, 1944, over enemy territory near the Yangtze River. Despite debilitating injuries that plagued him the rest of his life, he evaded capture for two months with the aid of Chinese guerrillas who then returned him to friendly territory.

Rex Barber's impressive wartime record of 138 combat missions includes five confirmed aerial victories and three “probables,” making him a “Fighter Ace.”

After the war, Colonel Barber began testing the new Lockheed P-80 Shooting
Colonel Rex T. Barber Memorial Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Douglass Halvorsen, June 21, 2015
3. Colonel Rex T. Barber Memorial Marker
Star jet fighter. One day he piloted one under the old Crooked River Bridge and the railroad bridge visible to your left, just west of here. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1961 as a full colonel and returned to Oregon where he lived out his days in service to his family, his community, and the country he loved.

second panel

Office of the Governor State of Oregon Proclamation

Whereas:Oregon native Rex T. Barber was a celebrated combat ace during World War II, flying 138 wartime combat missions while showing remarkable courage; and
Whereas: Rex t. Barber's attack unit successfully intercepted the bomber carrying Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander of the Japanese Combined Fleet and strategist behind the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Admiral Yamamoto's plane was shot down by Rex T. barber; and
Whereas: Rex T. Barber, with nearly inconceivable flying skill, safely returned to base with 104 bullet holes in his plane; and
Whereas: In all of the aerial combat of American fighter missions, Rex T. Barber's determination to press his attack and destroy the airplane carrying Admiral Yamamoto is unequaled, having changed the course of history; and
Whereas: The downing of five enemy planes and his countless combat missions over China and the Pacific earned Rex T. Barber the Navy
Colonel Rex T. Barber Memorial Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Douglass Halvorsen, June 21, 2015
4. Colonel Rex T. Barber Memorial Marker
Cross, two Silver Stars, the Purple Heart, and numerous other military decorations; and
Whereas: Mr. Barber, after leaving military service, returned to Oregon, was elected Mayor of Culver, and served as a volunteer firefighter, Justice of the Peace, and Little League baseball coach; and
Whereas: Mr. Barber's distinguished military career and community service serve as examples to us all and are well worthy of recognition;
Now, Therefore: I, Theodore R. Kulonggoski, Governor of the State of Oregon, hereby proclaim April 18, 2003, to be
Rex T. Barber Day

And recognize the newly-constructed bridge on Highway 97 over the Crooked River in Jefferson County as the Rex T. Barber Veterans Memorial Bridge to honor all who sacrificed so much in service to our country, and encourage all Oregonians to join in this observance.
Theodore R. Kulongoski, Governor - Bill Bradbury, Secretary of State

third panel

Life in central Oregon was anything but exciting early in the 20th Century. When the Oregon Trunk Railroad pushed up the Deschutes River in 1912, it was Rex Barber's father, William C. Barber, who laid out the town of Culver next to the family homestead.

As a boy on that family farm, Rex Barber was fascinated by stories of aerial combat in World War I.
Blue Star Memorial Highway image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Douglass Halvorsen, June 21, 2015
5. Blue Star Memorial Highway
He knew then that he wanted to fly.

Farm life shaped Rex's personality, working the soil and enjoying nature, but also building a love of intense competition that would remain throughout his life.

Rex retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1961 as a decorated “ace” after 21 full years of active flight duty. Margaret, his wife of 54 years, said he came back to Culver for a two-week visit and never left. Rex and Margaret built a home next door to his parents where they could lend a hand as necessary.

Soon he was attending meetings of the Culver volunteer fire department. There he met an insurance agent who invited Rex to consider insurance as a second career. In April, 1962, Rex opened Barber & Reed Insurance Agency...Culver's first.

His sense of community quickly grew and his appointment as Justice of the Peace led him to help children at risk. During his term as Mayor, 1970 - 1976, Culver built a new fire hall, platted the east side of Main Street (now Culver Ridge), and attracted new business to town.

In 1968, Rex sold Barber & Reed Insurance to launch his next venture, Deschutes Valley Farms. By 1972, the company had 4,000 acres in production serving markets throughout the nation.

Five years later, Rex sold all of their Central Oregon properties to buy, along with three partners, the very successful Rock Creek Golf
Rex T. Barber Veterans Memorial Bridge image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Douglass Halvorsen, June 21, 2015
6. Rex T. Barber Veterans Memorial Bridge
Course in Portland.

But after a decade of city life, the country called him back. Rex and Margaret returned to Central Oregon, where they both lived out their days. As Rex told his youngest son, Rex Jr., “Home is where the family is.”

Rex T. Barber represents thousands of Oregon veterans who served their country in so many international conflicts. Like most, he always thought others deserved more credit that he did. When asked about the Yamamoto Mission, he would say, “I was just doing my job.”
Topics and series. This historical marker and memorial is listed in this topic list: War, World II. In addition, it is included in the Distinguished Service Cross/Navy Cross/Air Force Cross Recipients series list.
Location. 44° 23.535′ N, 121° 11.583′ W. Marker is in Terrebonne, Oregon, in Jefferson County. Marker can be reached from U.S. 97. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Terrebonne OR 97760, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A Bridge for the New Millenium (a few steps from this marker); Peter Skene Ogden Park (a few steps from this marker); Oregon Scenic Highways (within shouting distance of this marker); The Crooked River (High) Bridge (about 300
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feet away, measured in a direct line); Peter Skene Ogden (about 600 feet away); The Oregon Trunk Railroad Bridge (about 700 feet away); Metolius Depot (approx. 13½ miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on April 8, 2022. It was originally submitted on January 27, 2018, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon. This page has been viewed 325 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on January 27, 2018, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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Feb. 9, 2023