Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist

Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist
Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Md Troopers Assoc #20 & Westminster Md Fire Dept Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist

Sunday, November 30, 2014

We mourn the passing of the late Carroll County Md. State’s Attorney Jerry Barnes

We mourn the tragic loss of our good friend, Vietnam veteran, and life-long public servant, the late Carroll County State’s Attorney Jerry Barnes.

Word spread quickly early Saturday afternoon, November 29, 2014 through the tight-knit Carroll County community of law enforcement, public officials and old main-line Carroll County families that Mr. Barnes had passed away.

Late at night – Westminster, Md. - - Over the years I have written several stories about my friend Mr. Barnes. I had the chance to talk with him at length on November 2, 2007 for several articles I wrote for Veterans Day. It was one of the first occasions he and I took to talk about Vietnam in all these years.

Jerry Barnes served as a Sergeant in Vietnam with the 5th Special Forces from September 16, 1969 to September 16, 1970. In Vietnam, one of his assignments was working as a Special Forces advisor with twelve Montagnard fighters of the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) at a radio relay site, in Kon Tum Province, on the Ho Chi Minh trail ‘near’ Laos.

Soon after arriving at Cam Ranh Bay in September 1969, he was assigned to the first of three “A-Camps” in Kon Tum Province which is located in the Central Tay Nguyen Highlands and is bordered on the north by Quang Nam; on the south by Gia Lai; on the east by Quang Ngai and on the west by Laos.  The “A-Camp” counterinsurgency concept is still being used to this day and was used extensively in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In Kon Tum province he served at A-241 Polei Kleng; A-244 Ben Het; A-245 Dak Seang – about 20 miles from the Laotian border as one of approximately 10 American “advisors” serving with several hundred Montagnard tribesmen in the “Civilian Irregular Defense Group” counterinsurgency program.  The Montagnards had aligned themselves with the South Vietnamese and the Americans to patrol the Ho Chi Minh trail.

In particular one of Barnes’ assignments was to work with twelve Montagnard fighters at a radio relay site. While serving with the 5th Special Forces Group a “typical” assignment was to go out on 8 to 10-day operations as (more often than not) the lone American with a contingent of South Vietnamese Special Forces counterparts – or Montagnards, to monitor and patrol the Ho Chi Minh trail.  “Our objective was to interdict and disrupt the supply activities of the trail.”

“It was while out on one of these patrols that Barnes’ heroic actions earned him the first of two Bronze Stars for valor,” according to a biographical sketch written a number of years ago by former Carroll County Maryland State Delegate and newspaper reporter Carmen Amedori.

Mr. Barnes explained that he was with 20 Montagnards 18 miles from the Laotian border “manning a radio relay station for a larger operation farther out when we were attacked as dusk by a (contingent) of the North Vietnamese regular Army.”  The ensuing firefight lasted throughout the night.  “We took some casualties and before it was all over, it took calling in an artillery attack, then Cobra helicopter gunships followed by suppression fire from C-130’s, known as “Puff the Magic Dragons,” and finally two fighter jets to save them.

Before returning home he was awarded a second Bronze Star and the Combat Infantry Badge among a number of recognitions. 

Word spread quickly early Saturday afternoon, November 29, 2014 through the tight-knit Carroll County community of law enforcement, public officials and old main-line Carroll County families that Mr. Barnes had passed away.

Those of us who work with death notifications often never quite know what to say publicly… If I am on a fire, accident or crime scene, I often wait until the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshall or another law enforcement agency puts-out a statement so that I may have an idea to how to approach a death…

When a public official dies, those of us who serve as public information officers are equally careful as to what to say and when. In the case of Mr. Barnes, Captain Richard L. Hart Jr., Commander Investigative Services Division of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office released a statement at 5:03 p.m.:

“On November 29, 2014 at approximately 10:30am, Carroll County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a private residence in Westminster for a report of an attempted suicide. Upon the Deputy’s arrival, EMS personnel were providing aid to a male who was suffering from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The man was transported to the Carroll Hospital Center where he was pronounced dead.

“The man has been identified as Jerry Francis Barnes, who is the State’s Attorney for Carroll County.

“Mr. Barnes was a lifelong resident of Carroll County and has served as a criminal prosecutor for a total of 38 years, including the past 20 as Carroll County’s State’s Attorney.

“Mr. Barnes’ body has been transported to the State Medical Examiner’s Office. The investigation is continuing….” 

This comes a cold wake-up call to always remember the sacrifices made by our nation’s military, law enforcement and public officials to preserve the quality of life and freedoms we hold so dear.

Day after day, they take some brain away…. The demons never go away. They conveniently hide in the shadows of our everyday hectic lives. On Feb. 26, 1995, I wrote, in part…. [We] are a walking sandwich board testimony to our messy, imperfect lives as much as the amused passers-by. It’s what one does with their relationship with the absurdities of life that makes one unique... and one’s repository of discarded sandwich boards... are what counts. As Mr. Shakespeare once said: “Let the end try the man. Or as the Masai say, “Epwo m-baa poking in-gitin got,” - “Everything has an end." 

Our only defense is to put on the Whole Armor of God:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[a] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— Ephesians 6: 10-18


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