Gold Star, what?

Gold Star Wife Patricia Barbee
Gold Star Wife Patricia Barbee

Attending all girls’ schools in Boston, we were challenged to do good, better; and better.

Yes, that “gold star” meant I did exceptional work.

We resided down the street from the Robert Gould Shaw House. Mike Haynes was director of the House. He was also lead pastor of Twelfth Baptist Church diagonally across the street where he was the pastor. Rev. Martin L. King Jr. was associate pastor. I’d attend services with pals.

On his first day in Boston a Marine took a labeled bus to Franklin Park Zoo. He roamed the Park, crossed the street to a café before returning to his ship, the USS Wasp CVS-18.

The church owned the block of buildings. I later learned some women of the church and were enjoying whatever at a table in a corner. The Marine was circled by these “old ladies” and asked where he was from. He was startled. “No one in Boston asks for a ‘soda’.” They left. He finished his “soda”; rounded the corner, took a bus back to the port.

USMC Sgt. John W. Barbee, wife Patricia Barbee
USMC Sgt. John W. Barbee, wife Patricia Barbee

Sunday morning, six days later the Marine attended the church services. I was at church too. We met. Days pass. He was embraced by my relatives and friends.

Wow! We are engaged. Months passed quickly. Wedding plans.

As our life kept enfolding from two to a close and tight “one”, Barbee told me he was a Baptist minister. Yikes! Yes, he was one of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Foot Soldiers.

1966, PFC John W. Barbee and Patricia are now “one”. 1968, Sgt. Barbee had orders to leave Camp LeJeune and go to Okinawa, Japan.

28 May 1968 I drove my Beloved to the Philadelphia Airport enroute to Okinawa. Mail from Okinawa arrived in bundles. He’d number each letter. I’d sort them and read in order.

8 August 1968 another bundle of mail arrived. One had a strange return address. It was opened first. He was in Vietnam. It took hours to get past that letter, re-read then continue.

10 August 1968 about 5p the doorbell rang. The inner door was open and Mrs. Barbee saw three Marines………..

The screams are still echoing off the Heavens. USMC Sgt. John W. Barbee had been Killed in Action on 6 August 1968.

The Marines did their job of informing Mrs. John W. Barbee that she was now a Widow. The words were as hot as a branding iron could be.

That made me a Gold Star Wife. A Gold Star Wife is the Widow of a Military Spouse who gave his all in the Service to the United States of America.

We will celebrate Gold Star Mothers and family Day on September 27, 2020

2 thoughts on “Gold Star, what?”

  1. Thank you for you and your husband’s service to our country. Thank you for explaining to the world what a Gold Star Wife and Gold Star Family mean to the United States of America.

  2. This is so beautifully written, and an illustratively poignant accounting of a coupling, love union and sudden loss. You and the thousands of Gold Star Wives who have received the “knock” will remain in my prayers. May this country do more to honor Gold Star wives and families.

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