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Speaking of heroes

Editorial for April 30, 2009

Speaking of heroes

The White Salmon community has lost a real hero with the April 18 passing of retired Adm. Jack Barrett.

There have been a number of heroes in the news lately: Richard Phillips, the captain of a container ship who allowed himself to be taken hostage to protect his crew; the Navy sharpshooters who perfectly executed a highly dangerous mission that rescued Phillips; and of course airline pilot Sully Sullenberger, who miraculously crash-landed an airliner on the Hudson River, saving every man, woman, and child on board.

Adm. Barrett was a hero as well. A member of America's "Greatest Generation," he bravely served his country in the U.S. Navy in World War II as an officer on extremely hazardous submarine duty. His combat engagements with Japanese vessels in the Pacific Theater earned him the Silver Star, one of the military's highest honors, as well as two Bronze Stars. He was also awarded a medal for saving the life of a crewman who was washed overboard.

He followed his brave World War II submarine service by becoming an aviator, and flew from aircraft carriers during the Korean War. He eventually worked his way to the top, gaining the rank of admiral and becoming one of the Navy's top commanders.

In his own words, Barrett noted that he had enjoyed a "full and adventurous life," and given his impressive background, that is a bit of an understatement.

We remember Adm. Barrett also for his advocacy for the young people in our community, and for his unyielding support of the Community Youth Center. He was also very active with the White Salmon Swimming Pool Committee, working to keep that asset open. He cared, and even at age 89, he was striving to make this community a better place for its residents.

Barrett held strong political views -- we would expect no less from a former Navy admiral -- and he expressed them now and then in our "letters to the editor" section. Sometimes we agreed, sometimes we didn't, but we always respected his views. We also appreciated the fact that he stated more than once that people could "disagree without being disagreeable." He was a true gentleman, and we will miss his input.

Our sincere condolences to his entire family, and in particular to Joan, his gracious wife of 61 years.



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