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Second Lieutenant
John F. Barnett, Jr.

U. S. Army

February 25, 1913 - October 13, 1944
Palacios Cemetery
Palacios, Matagorda County, Texas

Gold Star Mother
Grace Leticia Menefee Barnett

WWII Memorial Plaque
Palacios High School

2nd Lieutenant John Franklin Barnett, Jr. [February 25, 1913 – October 13, 1944] U.S. Army was born to John “Jack” Franklin Barnett, Sr. [April 2, 1883 – March 10, 1963] and Grace Letitia (Menefee) Barnett [February 24, 1889 – June 3, 1972] at Palacios, Matagorda County, Texas.  He attended Palacios Schools, one semester at Terrell Preparatory School in Dallas, and A & M University where he graduated in 1936 with a degree in geology.  In August 1942 he married Miss Ethel Beatrice Cook in San Antonio; they had no children.  He was serving with the 135th Infantry Regiment, 34th infantry Division, under General Mark Clark when he was Killed In Action in Italy.  At the time of his death he was survived by his wife; his parents; two sisters:  Mrs. Grace Evelyn Ferguson and Mrs. Sunshine Edwards; one brother, Price M. Barnett, a Seabee in the U.S. Navy serving in the Pacific. His remains were repatriated to the United States for reburial at Palacios Cemetery in December 1948.

Excerpt from the 135th Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division, World War II History; Phase XII pages 20 – 22 (Aug 1, 1944 – Nov 1, 1944).  70 pages;  Relief of the Regiment, rest area period at resort area South of Leghorn {Livorno}, movement, concentration and attack of the Regiment into the GOTHIC LINE up to the time of the stalemate for the Winter.  This link is similar to a daily diary.  The three pages excerpted cover the period and location where 2nd Lieutenant Barnett was Killed In Action.  The names of towns/villages are as written and cannot be confirmed for accuracy of spelling.  This information was posted by the Military History Network.




On this map the 34th Division is located to the left of the center of the map.  Following the blue line up to where it forks, take the right fork to where it crosses the dashed line dated 14 – 15 Oct.  Where the blue line crosses the Savena River immediately before the 14 – 15 Oct dashed line is where 2nd Lieutenant Barnett’s unit was on 13 October 1944 attempting to cross the river.  The location of the river crossing is approximately 20 – 30 miles Southwest of Bologna.


Lt. John F. Barnett, Jr. Wounded In Italy Word Received Here

Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Barnett have received word from the War Department in Washington, also letters from their son, 2nd Lt. John F. Barnett, Jr., stating he was wounded while in action, in the early part of February. His wounds were mostly flesh wounds in his legs and a letter received this week states he is in the hospital receiving the very best of attention. The work of the Red Cross is wonderful, he says and he could not receive better treatment anywhere than what is being done by these nurses.

Palacios Beacon, Thursday, March 9, 1944

Two Purple Hearts Received By Palacios Families This Week

Two purple hearts have come to Palacios this week, to Mrs. John F. Barnett, Jr.

"The Purple Heart" we learn, is not awarded for any special service, but is given to those who are wounded in action or due to enemy action. Lt. John F. Barnett, Jr., received his for being wounded while doing active service in Italy. In a recent letter to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Barnett he wrote he was again able to walk and hoped to resume his duties in the very near future.

Palacios Beacon, Thursday, May 11, 1944


      The entire community was grieved Monday when the news came from the War Department in Washington, D. C., that Lt. John F. Barnett, Jr., was killed in action on Friday, October 13, in the Italy War Theatre. He was a member of the 34th Division.

      Besides his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Barnett he is survived by his wife, Mrs. Ethel Cook Barnett, two sisters, Mrs. Grace Evelyn Ferguson, Mrs. Sunshine Edwards and one brother, Seabee Price M. Barnett, somewhere in the Pacific.

Palacios Beacon, November 2, 1944; and copied in The Daily Tribune, November 3, 1944


Lt. Barnett Served with Gen. Clark’s Fifth Army in Italy

      With the 5th Army, Italy ―Second Lieutenant John F. Barnett, Jr., of Palacios, Texas, recently was awarded the Silver Star posthumously for gallantry in action on October 13, 1944, in Italy.

      He served with Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark’s Fifth Army in the 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division.

      While leading his platoon in an assault on a hostile machine-gun emplacement, Barnett was forced to deploy the men when supporting artillery fire began falling in their midst. He radioed back to have the barrage lifted and was about to seek cover himself when he heard the cry of a wounded comrade.

      He immediately dragged the injured soldier into a hole, gave him first aid and was looking around to see if any other wounded needed help when he was fatally wounded by enemy fire.

      Barnett’s great courage and leadership was an inspiration to his men for they not only held their objective but continued the attack and made a 1500-yard gain.

Pal      Palacios Beacon, December 28, 1944 and in Matagorda County Tribune, December 28, 1944, with headline “Lt. John Barnett Awarded Silver Star Posthumously”


John F. Barnett, Jr. Died For What He, As A Boy, Had Lived

At the instance of the Adjutant General of the United States, by direction of the President, the Silver Star was posthumously awarded to 2nd Lt. John F. Barnett, Jr., with the following citation accompanying:

“For gallantry in action on 13 October, 1944, in the vicinity of ****. Assigned the mission of taking an enemy held hill Lieutenant Barnett led his platoon through a gully pounded by enemy mortar fire and then skillfully following close behind a supporting artillery barrage which kept the enemy pinned down, he succeeded in getting his men up the steep slope and to the top of the hill. As Lieutenant Barnett was leading an assault on a hostile machine gun emplacement friendly artillery fire began falling in the midst of his platoon. Disregarding his own safety Lieutenant Barnett moved about among his men, held them together and kept them from abandoning their ground. He radioed back to have the barrage lifted, but even as the shells landed all around him he dispersed his men and found cover for them in positions from which they could effectively fight back if the enemy should counter-attack. As Lieutenant Barnett was about to seek cover for himself he heard the cry of a wounded comrade and immediately went to him, dragged him into a hole and gave him first aid. Then as Lieutenant Barnett was looking around to see if any other wounded needed help he himself was fatally wounded by enemy artillery. Lieutenant Barnett’s great courage and leadership was an inspiration to his men for they not only held their objective, but continued the attack and made a 1500 yard gain.”

The award was made at Camp Hulen on May 7, 1945, by Col. Leroy E. Nelson to Mrs. Ethel B. Barnett, his wife, with Mr. and Mrs. John F. Barnett, father and mother of Lieutenant Barnett present.

John Jr., was born in Palacios, February 25, 1913. He was a regular attendant of the First Baptist Church Sunday School before entering the Intermediate Department at the age of 13. He was loyal to the church and a leader among the youth of his church, contributing much by his faithful attitude toward visitors as they came year by year to the Texas Baptist Encampment.

He entered school in Palacios and graduated from Palacios High School in 1931. He attended one semester in Terrell Prep. in Dallas, later entering A & M College where he received his degree in geology in 1936. He worked at the Barnett Lumber Company until January 1937 when he went to South America and the Dominican Republic as an employee of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. He remained there five and one half years, returning to the United States to enter the service of his country.

In August 1942, he was married to Ethel Beatrice Cook in San Antonio where they lived while he was in training at Fort Sam Houston. She remained with him during his period of training in the United States until he volunteered for, and was assigned to overseas service. He served in the Fifth Army, 135th Infantry–Thirty-Fourth Division under General Mark Clark. He was stationed in Africa for some time after his arrival over-seas. Later he was transferred to Italy where he was wounded February 7, 1944, while engaged in battle on Monastery Hill at Casino. He was in the hospital three months. After he was dismissed from the hospital he was returned to the front, although he had not entirely regained his strength. After the march on and through Rome, his feet gave him so much trouble that he was returned to the hospital in Southern Italy, where he spent several weeks.

He was returned to the front; by this time close to the Po Valley. After several weeks in action his old wounds began to give him trouble; so he was returned to the hospital for treatment. After treatment he was sent to a rest camp until the last part of August, 1944, when he was again returned to active combat. He remained in action until he was fatally wounded on October 13, 1944.

When friends read the words from the Adjutant General’s office how John Jr., had met death, they were not surprised that he had gone ahead of his men and had given his life that his comrades might live. Letters have come from his comrades of South America, from Europe and from friends of childhood days, expressing their appreciation of his courageous life. The words of Grenville Kleiser’s “Today,” express the creed that John Jr., the boy lived by and the cause for which Lieutenant Barnett, the man died.


“I will start the day serenely

With a true and noble aim;

I will give unselfish service

To enrich another’s name.

I will speak a word of courage

To a soul enslaved by fear;

I will dispute drab discord

With the sunshine of good cheer.

I will be sincere and humble

In the work I have to do;

I will praise instead of censure

And see the good in you.

I will keep my mind and body

Sound and flexible and pure’

I will give my time and study

To do the things that long endure.

I will do what I am able

To advance a worthy cause;

I will strive to lessen evil

And obey God’s righteous laws.

I will pray to Him to guide me

In the straight and narrow way;

I will shun false pride and folly,

I will live my best today.”

We rejoice in such words as, “A friend loveth at all times,” and “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.”  ―A Friend.

Palacios Beacon, May 31, 1945

Lt. John Barnett

The body of Lt. John F. Barnett, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Barnett of Palacios will arrive in Palacios Thursday afternoon for reburial. Funeral services will be held Friday afternoon at 2:00 o'clock at the Palacios Baptist Church.

This young man, whose mother was born in Edna (Miss Grace Menefee) gave his life for his country during the late war, in order that the rest of us may live in peace--at least live.

Lt. John Barnett's ancestors on his maternal side, were early and prominent Jackson County settlers, and the incident of laying away his remains on native soil is of interest to a large number of our people.

Edna Weekly Herald, December 16, 1948


Mrs. Grace L. Barnett

Mrs. Grace L. Barnett, a former Palacios postmaster, died Saturday, June 3, in Wagner General Hospital after a lingering illness.

Born February 24, 1889 in Jackson County, Texas, she was the daughter of the late George and Molly Looney Menefee. She had been a resident of Palacios since 1904 and served as postmaster from July 1, 1933 to February 1, 1959. She was preceded in death by her husband, John F. Barnett and son, John F. Barnett, Jr.

Funeral services were held Monday, June 5, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon at the First Baptist Church, with Rayford Harris officiating. Interment was in the Palacios Cemetery.

She is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Grace Evelyn Ferguson of Bryan and Mrs. Sunshine Edwards of Palacios; one son, Price M. Barnett of Palacios; eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Palacios Beacon, June 7, 1972

J. F. Barnett, Native Texan, Leader, Dies

Palacios lost one of her greatest friends in the passing of J. F. Barnett. He was a native Texan who had watched Palacios grow from a salt grass prairie to an integral part of the "Golden Crescent of the Gulf Coast."

Jack Barnett was the last of a small group of men who caught the vision of the possibilities o this country when most people saw only the mosquitoes and referred to it as "the land which God forgot." Mr. Barnett was always on the side of progress and was willing to use his time, his influence, and his ability to further the growth of Palacios. The Hug-the-Coast-Highway, the seawall, Camp Hulen, Palacios Baptist Encampment, Palacios Baptist College and Academy, and the first public schools were largely guided by him. He was born April 2, 1883, a son of John Edward and Carrie Emma Threadgill Barnett.

In 1906 young Jack Barnett came to Palacios as manager of Grant Lumber Company. Eventually, he purchased the business from the Price Lumber Company which he has since conducted under the name of the Barnett Lumber Company. He retired in 1956 from the active management of the firm. For many years he was president of the Palacios State Bank and Trust Company.

A life long Democrat, Baptist and Ancient Scottish Rite order of Free Masonry, Mr. Barnett has served each of these organizations on local, county and state levels.

In 1960, Jack and his wife Grace Letitia Menefee Barnett observed their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a reception in the family home in which they set up housekeeping at 309 Welch Avenue. Friends from throughout the state were present.

Children of this union are Mrs. Thomas M. Ferguson, Price M. and Sunshine B. Edwards. A son, John F. Jr., lost his life in line of duty in World War II. Grandchildren are Thomas M. Jr., John Franklin, Letitia Ruth and Leonard Price Ferguson of Bryan, Susan Marie and John F. Barnett III, Mary Evelyn? and Michael Lance Edwards of Palacios.

Mr. Barnett passed away Sunday afternoon at 3:10 p.m., in the Wagner General Hospital. Services were held from First Baptist Church at 3 p.m. Tuesday conducted by the Rev. Rayford Harris.

Palacios Beacon, March 13, 1963

Pictures of the Barnett family courtesy of Palacios Area Historical Association Museum and volunteers Shirlee and Lucja.


Copyright 2006 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
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Jan. 28, 2006
Jan. 5, 2009