Barnett dedication scheduled for Oct. 27

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 29, 2007

Hanging Rock is beginning the final preparations for dedicating a street in honor of one of its fallen sons.

Center Street will be renamed to “Billy Barnett Lane” on Oct. 27 at 11 a.m.

The dedication ceremony will take place at the intersection of Scioto Avenue and Center Street.

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Among those attending the ceremony will be Mayor Chris Davidson, the Veterans of Foreign Wars 8850 Color Guard, Rev. Dennie Hankins, the Rock Hill High School Chorus led by assistant band director Rhonda Pemberton, David Pemberton, Barnett’s nephew Jeff Fields and Barnett’s childhood friend, Lowell Mullins.

Family and friends of Barnett and the community are invited to attend the ceremony.

Mullins said he has been trying to get the name changed on the street for at least 15 years. It was this month that the Hanging Rock Village Council agreed to change the name.

“Everyone who fought is a hero to me and to a lot of other guys,” Mullins said. “It was important to me to have a street named for him because of what he did. He was always a good boy and he had lots of friends.”

Barnett played for the Hanging Rock Rockets in high school. At the age of 17, he convinced his mother to sign a waiver so he could join the Army in 1948. He was stationed in Japan when he was sent to fight in Korea.

According to an Ironton News article dated Feb. 20, 1951, the medal and a certificate were presented to his mother, Florence Blair. According to the article, Barnett, a member of 27th Infantry Regiment, was on patrol as a forward observer when the patrol encountered enemy forces near Changayong, Korea. Heavy enemy fire made it impossible for the patrol to move.

According to the citation in the newspaper, “Barnett realized that the patrol would be annihilated unless the men could withdraw. He left his position of relative safety and crawled to point which he could direct effective fire.”

That made it possible for the patrol to withdraw to a better position, but “Barnett refused to accompany them and with full knowledge of his peril, continued to screen his withdrawing comrades with fire.”

After the patrol was out of danger, Barnett’s position was rushed and he killed at least five enemy soldiers and drove off the rest in hand-to-hand combat.

He was still firing at the enemy when a mortar killed him. He was just shy of 19 years old.

His body was returned to Lawrence County in February 1952 and was buried in Buckeye Cemetery near Haverhill.