Jul 19, 1944 – Aug 06, 1968
Branch: Marines
Rank: SGT
Hometown: Florence, Burlington
Status: KIA

John W. Barbee was born on July 19, 1944, in Nashville, TN, to Worolene and Dorris Barbee, Sr. His home of record is Florence, NJ. He was a Baptist minister at Progressive Baptist Church under the Reverend Dr. J. Lewis Powell. He became active in the civil rights movement, working with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Reverend Dr. Ralph D. Abernathy, Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery and Reverend James E. Orange. Rev. Orange was his Street Lieutenant, under Dr. King. John attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA.

Barbee enlisted in the US Marine Corps and attained the rank of Sergeant (SGT). He completed basic training in Parris Island, NC. He was assigned to duties aboard the USS WASP, an aircraft carrier. This carrier participated in the Gemini space capsule recoveries. Barbee worked security detail for the astronauts and capsules.

On Sunday, August 1, 1965, he met his bride to be, Patricia, in church, six days after arriving in Boston on the USS Wasp. The two were married less than one year later. His new wife refused to relocate to Camp LeJeune, so they settled in a bit of paradise, in Florence, NJ, on the Delaware River.

Barbee would later be stationed aboard the USS Chilton for a Mediterranean Cruise, before being sent to Vietnam with a month stop-over in Okinawa, Japan.

On August 6, 1968, while serving with G Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines in Quang Tri Province, Barbee was killed in action when a fragment from a hand grenade fatally wounded him.

His wife, Patricia Barbee, survived him, as well as his parents and numerous brothers and sisters. Patricia is an active member of Gold Star Wives, a non-profit organization that provides support and services to the active duty and service connected military widows. Patricia has published a number of books and contributed stories to Chicken Soup for the Military Wife’s Soul.

John Barbee’s name was added to the NJ Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in May 2008. The township of Florence, NJ, also has a monument dedicated in his honor.

Sources: Patricia Barbee (widow), newspaper clippings, various websites and NJVVMF

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