Barkers Commit to Country, County, Community
By Julie Anderson
When Stan Barker completed his service in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1973, he notified the draft board of his discharge, per regulations. Much to his surprise, the man who took his call “blew a fuse.”
“You never registered for the draft!” Barker was told emphatically. “Where have you been?”
“I’ve been in Vietnam,” Barker replied.
The reply from the draft board? “Oh. Well. Nevermind.”
Actually, it’s no surprise Stan Barker never thought to register for the draft. After all, at age 17 years and one month, he was already in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Inspired by his father’s friend who had served as a Marine in World War II, Stan Barker had a singular focus: Finish high school in Bonham and enlist in the Corps as soon as possible. However, he had to convince his parents. First, his dad was a Navy man, having served in World War II. Second, Stan was still in high school, meaning he had to have parent approval to enlist.
“The Corps would not let me in until I had graduated from school,” Barker explained. “I actually finished high school in three years so I could go into the Marine Corps at the ripe old age of 17.”
Barker reported to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot-San Diego on June 5, 1968, completed the 12-week boot camp as a squad leader, and received a meritorious promotion to Private First Class. He proceeded to Camp Pendleton, Calif., for ITR (Infantry Training Regiment), and was then sent back to San Diego for electronic maintenance school for about a year.
At the completion of school, Barker was transferred to 2nd Force Service Regiment in Camp Lejeune, N.C., for his first actual duty station.
“After working at an electronic repair shop for a few months, I saw a flier about MSGs (Marine Security Guards), also known as embassy guards,” Barker recalled. “I applied and was accepted into MSG school in Washington, D.C.”
Upon graduation Barker’s duty station request was approved, “and I was on my way to beautiful downtown Saigon, Vietnam, for embassy duty.”
Barker and his fellow Marines ran security for some 14 different buildings.
“For the first six month in Saigon, I moved around to different posts for different agencies,” Barker remembered. “I was then asked to become a member of the ‘Dragon’ team, which was the radio network run by the Embassy Security Office.”
A couple of months later, Barker was promoted to Sergeant and named the NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge) of the security net. He was also designated “Head Dragon” and tasked with monitoring security protocol and procedures; along with overseeing the security communications for Marines, the Dragon Team assisted with the security of visiting ambassadors.
Barker and his fellow guards responded to several bomb threats during Barker’s tour. He remained Head Dragon and NCOIC until his rotation back to regular duty in the United States in March of 1972.
Back at Camp Pendleton, Barker reported to the 1st FSR (Force Service Regiment) and worked at an electronic repair shop. After a year in California, Barker was honorably discharged as a Sergeant on June 5, 1973, and he returned to Fannin County.
Once back in his community, Barker bought a house and ran a welding and machine shop for 35 years. His welding career took him throughout the county, regularly exposing him to the county roads. As he drove over the pavement, it occurred to him that there was certainly room for improvement.
After serving as mayor of Leonard for five years, Barker learned the art of budgeting and associated issues. His collection of experiences coupled with a desire to serve prompted Barker to run for County Commissioner, and he was sworn into office on Jan. 1, 2003.
A Family Affair
While Barker will politely answer questions about his own service, he quickly turns the conversation to his family; clearly, this husband and father could not be more proud or more thankful.
Judith Barker, the Commissioner’s wife of 35 years, teaches fifth grade science in Leonard. The couple’s three children have already served their country, and they have now joined their parents in serving their county and community.
Jared, Jacob and Carmen Barker followed in their father’s footsteps and joined the Marine Corps fairly soon after graduating from high school.
“They all served in Iraq or Afghanistan,” Barker shared, “and, praise the Lord, they all managed to return to Fannin County intact and undamaged.”
Jared and Jacob were in the infantry, and the Barker’s daughter, Carmen, served as a field electrician.
At one time, all three of the Barker children were in Iraq or in the surrounding area, Barker recounted. Jacob and Carmen were actually able to see each other one time while in theater.
Jacob was with the First Marine Division, one of the first divisions to reach Baghdad; he was later involuntarily recalled to duty and was the last Barker to return home.
From start to finish, Stan and Judith Barker had children serving overseas for eight years. While Judith was admittedly a “bundle of nerves” at times, Barker said their personal faith carried them through as the couple prayed for the safety of their children.
“Of all the things in my life, I am most proud of the fact that all three of my children served our country to help protect and continue our freedom,” Barker declared. “After they returned to the states, they have all continued a life of public service.”
Jared is a firefighter/paramedic for the city of Plano, while Jacob is a sergeant in the Fannin County Sherriff’s Office. Carmen is now a trooper with the Department of Public Safety, and all three of them live in Fannin County.
The five Barkers and extended family honor the Nov. 10 Marine Corps birthday every year, celebrating on the actual day or on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Family members gather for the Barker Family Marine Corps Ball, which takes place in the Barker home.
Last year, the celebration included a special cake-cutting ceremony with the oldest Marine (Commissioner Barker) and the youngest (daughter Carmen) receiving the first two pieces of cake.
“It’s a reminder,” Barker shared. “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”