Col. Harvey C. “Barney” Barnum Jr., Medal of Honor recipient, stopped by the Aiken Public Safety office on Saturday to share some of his experiences during his time as a Marine. He was a first lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, Company H, second battalion, 9th Marines, third Marine division.
While in Vietnam, according to a pamphlet received by those in attendance, “Upon discovering his commander mortally wounded and the radioman killed, Barnum rendered aid to the dying officer, took the radio and assumed command of the company, rallying and reorganizing.”
Barnum touched on what it means to be in public service.
“First responders are taught not to think of themselves but what needs to be accomplished,” Barnum said. “Public service is not a job. It’s a way of life. Being able to help other people is the greatest reward.”
After visiting a naval hospital a few days ago, he left with an uplifting thought with those currently serving.
“I met with wounded warriors, and none of them were down in the dumps; they were all happy and joking around,” Barnum said.
He went on to talk about communities and their thoughts on those in service.
“It’s great that communities like yourselves stop and think about people who are serving in the Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard,” Barnum said.
The Citizen Honors Program, a program developed by Medal of Honor recipients, recognizes civilians that go above and beyond. He told a story of one individual who earned this award.
“Tim Brooks was an off-duty cop who pulled eight people out of the water before any fire trucks and EMTs arrived,” Barnum said. “It was a great honor for me to hear that story and be able to present the award.”
“He went on to talk about the youth he has talked to and visited with, and he said believes the future of the country lies in their hands.
“We (other Medal of Honor recipients) go to schools and talk to the kids about patriotism, the military and why we need a military, but we do not glorify war,” Barnum said.”We tell them that freedom isn’t free and how lucky they are to have all that they do.
“After two hours of talking to these kids, if I’ve gotten through to one kid, my time was worth it,” Barnum said.
M.A. Mullis was appreciative of Barnum coming to speak Saturday morning.
“Barney has served our country so bravely. It’s been an honor to be here and meet him,” Mullis said.