Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Jeremy Barnett remembered

HARTVILLE – Sgt. Jeremy D. Barnett gave his life for his country. Then he gave his heart.

His mother, Michele Barnett of Hartville, was at his side in a military hospital in Germany last week as the Mineral City man lay dying, another casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I held his hand, and I put my head on his chest and I knew that that heart was going to continue to beat. His heart was going to live on,” she said Tuesday about the soldier’s plan to donate his organs if things went wrong.

“He saved the life of a 51-year-old person in Europe. Our son’s heart is beating in this person.”

Life support was removed Saturday from the 27-year-old soldier, ending his life and a military career that included service to both the Navy and Army.

“I’m proud of my son,” his mother said. “He gave his life twice. He did what a lot of us would never have enough guts to do, and he did it well.”

His father, Dave Barnett of Mineral City, said he would like anyone who recognizes someone in uniform to “stop and shake his hand. We see in the paper where someone got injured or someone got killed, and we think it’s a shame. We don’t realize how bad it really is until it hits home.”

It hit home hard this week for the Barnett family. Jeremy Barnett also is survived by three younger sisters, Natalie, Emily and Rebecca Barnett.

Natalie Barnett said her brother, a good-natured young man who used humor to break the most tense moments, would want people to know that “he took his job very seriously; he loved his job.”

Their mother agreed. “He loved his country; he loved his service to his country.”

Sgt. Jeremy Barnett and his father e-mailed one another at least twice a week, as the soldier looked forward to returning home to fish and hunt with his dad. And Dave Barnett said he warned his son not to volunteer for anything.

“The last time I talked to him, I told him to do what he was told to do and to do his job, ‘but do not put your hand up,’” the elder Barnett said.

One week ago, the young man suffered “wounds sustained from a land mine detonation,” according to an announcement this week by the U.S. Department of Defense. He had volunteered for a patrol mission as a “first observer” in Ad-Dujayl, Iraq, on his day off. His father explained that the job entailed going in ahead of others to call in for artillery or air strikes.

“There was an explosion,” Dave Barnett said. “The AP is saying it was a land mine. ... No one seems to have a definite answer as to what happened. He got out of his Humvee to check something out. ...”

Army representatives called the Barnett family last Wednesday.

“When I answered the phone and they said it was the Army, I knew that wasn’t good,” Dave Barnett said.

The family flew to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl to be by Jeremy’s side.

Family members praised the medical staff and military personnel, saying they worked hard to make the dying soldier as comfortable as possible. They talked about all the volunteers who carry hundreds of wounded soldiers in large buses that serve as ambulances all day, every day. And they talked about the people assigned to coordinate and schedule events to make everything run smoothly during their devastating loss.

The Barnett family also attended the ceremonies during which Sgt. Barnett posthumously was presented with his medals.

The purple medal – “That was something I never wanted to see,” his father said, struggling to hold back tears.

Michele Barnett acknowledged that the parents of every soldier worry while their grown children are fighting in a war.

“Everyone has an anxiety about being over there in Iraq. I thought it (the worst) would be an injury,” she said.

From the Reporter

Related Link:
Jeremy D. Barnett dies of injuries from land mine