Oregon veteran honored with flag, parade on 102nd birthday

By ALEX PAUL | Albany Democrat-Herald | Published: July 9, 2020

LEBANON, Ore. (Tribune News Service) — Sporting a big grin, Army and Air Force veteran Emmett “Bud” Barnes said he didn’t understand why there was so much “hullabaloo” about his birthday Wednesday afternoon at his home.

After all, he’s only 102 years old.

But hullabaloo there was as a small parade led by a Lebanon police car followed by a Lebanon fire truck with lights blazing and sirens blaring and a contingent of American Legion Guard members on roaring motorcycles sporting American flags passed his home.

“He’s a fellow veteran,” explained Charlie McCarthy of the American Legion Guard. “He earned it through his service and the fact he has made it to 102. He deserves all the recognition we can give him.”

Barnes watched the proceedings from the front porch of his home and waved as the parade passed by.

Barnes served during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Bill Stam, a 25-year Air Force veteran who served in Korea and Vietnam, presented Barnes with a new American flag.

“We thank you so much for your service,” Stam said.

Barnes’ old flag was faded and a bit tattered.

Legion Guard members assisted him in flying the new flag on the pole next to his house.

In addition to the new flag, Legion Guard members presented Barnes with challenge coins.

Debbie Modesitt, Juanita Kuhns and Pat Mastenbrook of Vets Helping Vets HQ presented Barnes with large birthday cards; red, white and blue beaded keychains; and several new caps.

“He likes caps,” someone in the crowd said.

Barnes grew up in Idaho and joined the National Guard when he was 17 years old. He enlisted in the full-time Army in 1942 and spent much of his enlistment working with munitions in southern England.

He rose to the rank of senior master sergeant and served for more than two decades in the Air Force Reserve.

He and his late wife, Mary — they were married for 68 years — moved to Lebanon in the early 1950s, and he worked at the Champion mill until retiring in 1983.

He was a longtime community volunteer who helped found the Linn County Credit Union and was a Scout leader for many years. He and Mary were active at the First Presbyterian Church and with the FISH ministry.

He is also a long-term member of American Legion Post 51.

For years he was a core member of the Santiam Fish & Game Association, which managed Clear Lake Resort until Linn County bought it about a dozen years ago.

Marilyn Nelson, who considers Barnes her adopted father, was present Wednesday, as were many neighbors.

His sons, Don and Gene, live in Reno, Nevada, and Snoqualmie, Washington, respectively. He has six grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

His wife and daughter Denice Ward both died in 2015.

“I don’t know why everyone is making such a big fuss,” Barnes said of the event. “I really didn’t do all that much.”

©2020 Albany Democrat-Herald, Ore.
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