Do you remember Ernest Barnes?
My name is Richard F. Jones. I represent a family located in Carroll County (Malvern) OH, who has asked me to reach out and establish contact with anyone who my have served with, fought, with, and/or trained with their oldest brother, Ernest.
Pfc. Ernest (Ernie) Leroy Barnes, K/394, 99th Infantry Division, died Dec. 19, 1944, from fatally inflicted wounds he received Dec. 18.
Barnes originally was from Mechanicstown OH, however his official home of record is recorded as RD#5, Carrollton OH. Barnes was the oldest of 10 siblings, born June 6, 1921, to Cleo Iris and John D. Barnes.
Prior to military service, Barnes was employed as a rail laborer with the former Pennsylvania Railroad. Barnes enlisted in the U.S. Army on Dec. 9, 1942, at Fort Hayes OH, and upon induction, was transported to the home of the 99th Infantry Division training facility at Camp Van Dorn MS. Upon his completion of training at Camp Van Dorn, he was assigned to the 394th Infantry Regiment, and continued his combat infantry training at Camp Maxey TX, where he later was assigned to K Company.
Details are few and sketchy as to how and where Pvt. Barnes departed this great land of ours for the European Theater of Operations; however I am aware that upon his assignment in Europe, he first was stationed in France in late November 1944, and reassigned to the Ardennes for what would be the infamous Battle of the Bulge.
Barnes was placed in a temporary burial plot, which at that time was known as Jayhawk Cemetery, and after the war it was designated Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery. He then was disinterred and placed in a permanent resting place on Aug. 8, 1948.
Barnes' sister, Wilda I. Barnes-Ross of Malvern OH, asked me two and one-half years ago to research Ernest's military service. In this time frame, I have learned a great deal about this American war hero.
In conducting my research, I took on the assistance of Ohio Congressman Ralph Regula who, along with his staff, turned up Barnes' military personnel service record, all of his medical records; and his Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Asiatic-European Campaign Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, and the WWII patch of the ruptured duck.
I personally sought out membership in not only the 99th Infantry Division Association, but the local chapter of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge Association in hopes of locating someone who might have known Barnes.
Lo and behold, I met Sam Hiett, who is the recording secretary for the Ohio Buckeye Chapter. He is not a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, but is married to a vibrant young lady who is a native-born Belgian, whom he met during a visit to the 1950 World's Fair in Belgium. Sam's wife, Michette and her sister Monique were just in their adolescent years when they, along with their parents, harbored and protected American servicemen under the floorboards and in the attic of their home during the German occupation of Belgium.
As a result of this newly-formed friendship, Wilda Barnes-Ross met Sam and Michette. Michette contacted her sister, who still resides in Malmedy, Belgium, and has adopted Barnes' gravesite through an agreement with the Belgian community and the American Battle Monuments Commission who administers the overseas national cemeteries.
In August of this year, Monique photographed Pfc. Barnes' gravesite and sent the pictures to her sister in North Canton OH. All the Barnes siblings and I treasure these pictures.
In closing, I ask all of you to reach into your memory banks, think back to the days at Fort Hayes, Camp Van Dorn, Camp Maxey, the troop ship, France, and Belgium. Did you come across an Ernie Barnes from Ohio? If so, Wilda and I would like to hear from you either in writing or by telephone.
Richard F. Jones
PO Box 80464
Canton OH 44708-0464