WORLD WAR II VETERANS CONCORDIA PARISH LOUISIANA
MARION E. BARNETTE
AIRMAN 3 C U.S. NAVAL RESERVE
Scouting Squadron 51 Naval Air Facility 129
Radio Operator and Gunner
Marion was born in Arcadia, Louisiana October 27, 1924. He moved from Baton Rouge to Concordia Parish in 1941, when his father became Manager of Concordia Electric Cooperative.
He attended Ferriday High School, but before graduation, enlisted in the Navy. This was October 20, 1942 (one week before his eighteenth birthday). After five weeks training in San Diego, he was given eleven days leave to go home and visit his parents, This really meant only three days, because eight days was spent traveling on the train. On this brief visit home he met his future wife. Their courtship was mainly corresponding by mail while he was in the service.
From San Diego he went overseas. His tour lasted 25 months, with no trip home. He was assigned to Scouting Squadron 51, as a radioman/gunner based at Pago Pago, Samoa. The scouting units were the eyes of the Navy, observing and reporting the location of all naval vessels.
The plane in which Marion flew was the Douglass Dauntless, which had earlier been used as a dive bomber. It was now a two-seater , with the pilot in front and the radioman/gunner in the rear. His records show that he crossed the equator January 13, 1943. Apparently he crossed the Equator again, because he returned home safely after the war.
Returning to the U.S. after leaving Samoa, he was granted a thirty day leave. Then he was stationed at the Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida until his discharge. He was discharged from the service January 17, 1946.
He did not talk a lot about the war, but he did have some interesting stories. Twice, the plane was shot down. The first time, he and the pilot, Lieutenant Allen, spent five days on a rubber raft in the Pacific Ocean before they were rescued. This was the only time they were not sent right back on another scouting mission. The second time he was afloat for only 30 hours. He also told that when they had some free time— which was not often -– they would go island hopping. On one of these trips the pilot was hurt, so Marion had to fly the plane back to the base. It was a good thing that the pilot had taught him how to fly. Marion said the flying was OK, but the landing was not perfect. But, they got back in one piece.
On May 2, 1947 he and Polly Jacobs were married. They had two daughters, Myra and Kim.
Realizing that his early enlistment had cost him his high school diploma, he obtained that diploma through the G.E.D. program.
Returning to civilian life, Marion pursued several business ventures until 1949. Then he joined the Louisiana State Police, first as a Motorcycle Officer. After 20 years of service, he retired and was in the oil and gas business until his death in 1985.
Submitted by his wife, Polly Jacobs Barnette