Street named for fallen hero

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 29, 2007

HANGING ROCK— A new sign now stands at the corner of what used to be Center Street and Scioto Avenue in Hanging Rock. With this new sign, the small lane now has big significance: The new street sign reads “Billy Barnett Lane.”

Saturday, Hanging Rock residents gathered to dedicate a street in memory of Cpl. Billy Barnett, the U.S. Army veteran who died in combat in Korea in 1950. Barnett was on duty as a forward observer when his group was fired on. Unable to retreat with entrenched enemies around them, Barnett stayed behind and fired back, keeping the enemy at bay long enough for his fellow soldiers to find safety. But he was killed.

“He is one of the reasons we can all stand here today,” Mayor Chris Davidson told the gathering.

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The honor was the idea of Lowell Mullins, who grew up with Barnett and had tried several times over the years to have a lasting tribute to his friend.

“He was a hero of mind and a hero of every American,” Mullins said. “Every American who has ever been in a war, I call them heroes.”

The sense of patriotism was also evident in the musical selections sung by members of the Rock Hill High School chorus and the gunnery salute by the VFW 8850.

In his invocation, The Rev. Dennie Hankins thanked God for the freedoms we have in America and acknowledged “freedoms sometimes come at tremendous cost.”

Some of those who attended the ceremony were not alive when Barnett died; others knew him well and for them, the dedication brought back memories still sad and sweet after all those years.

“I was his brother’s wife,” Betty Sprouse Weiner said. “I dated him at one point before he went into the service. He was such a sweet guy. You’d never want to know anyone any better. He was a brave, brave boy.”