Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mourners remember Sgt. Franklin D. "J.R." Barnett Jr

Tuesday, Jun. 16, 2009
'He was just a flat-out character': Mourners remember Belleville soldier
BY WALLY SPIERS - News-Democrat

Family, friends and admirers of Sgt. Franklin D. "J.R." Barnett Jr., spoke of the courage, love of life and humor of the soldier at his funeral Monday.

"He had a big heart. He had been through the test of time," said Tim Rankins, pastor of New Destiny Church in Belleville, lamenting the loss of a young man he had counseled for much of his life.

Jeff Babcock, the person who taught J.R. to juggle, called J.R. an American hero.

"He had plenty of his own challenges and then he grew up and pulled someone out of the fire," Babcock said.

Barnett, 29, of Belleville, had survived a suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan last year, pulling his lieutenant to safety despite injuries to his own lungs. He was a member of the Army National Guard, assigned to the 927th Engineer Company as a combat engineer.

When he returned to the United States, he was assigned to C Company of the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, on Oct. 15. On June 7, he was discovered dead of unknown causes in his room.
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