Coast Guard promotes World War II veteran 69 years after his military discharge

9th Coast Guard District News
MUNCIE, Ind. – A U.S. Coast Guard officer promoted William D. Barber, Sr. to honorary motor machinist’s mate first class at Barber’s home in Muncie July 7, 2011, more than 69 years after he was honorably discharged from the service following an injury on a Coast Guard patrol boat during World War II.

Barber was in the engine room of the patrol boat, Stephen McKeever, which was used to spot German U-boats off the east coast of the United States, when an explosion occured, severly injuring him and another crewman who was also in the engine room.

The two men laid in pain in the engine room for eight days waiting for the weather to subside enough for the Stephen McKeever to go into a port. When it finally did, Barber was taken to a hospital in Virginia, where he spent roughly two months in recovery.

Upon his release from the hospital, Barber, now 88 years old, learned he was also being discharged from the Coast Guard, effective Oct. 25, 1943. That was his last communication with the service until recently, when officers at the Ninth Coast Guard District in Cleveland learned of his story.

“Thank you for your service to our great nation,” Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Plummer told Barber after reading Barber’s promotion certificate. “We want you to know that you are a shipmate, and we are not going to forget about you.”

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