Army Sgt. Robert J. Barrett
Died April 19, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
21, of Fall River, Mass.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment, Massachusetts National Guard, Fall River, Mass.; died April 19 near Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained in the explosion of an improvised explosive device while on dismounted patrol.
(The following was taken from www.southcoasttoday.com of Apr. 21, 2010) FALL RIVER — On a solemn day in February 2009, Army National Guard Sgt. Robert J. Barrett was there to console a Swansea family who had lost a loved one in Iraq.
On Tuesday afternoon, family and friends gathered in his Fall River home to remember another fallen warrior: Barrett.
Barrett, 21, was killed Monday in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device went off while he and eight other soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment were on foot patrol south of Kabul International Airport. The incident remains under investigation, officials said.
The other soldiers were injured but survived the attack; Massachusetts Army National Guard Master Sgt. Pallas Wahl said five have already returned to duty.
Barrett, whose unit deployed to Afghanistan in January, was mortally wounded.
Faith Harrington, the widow of Army Sgt. Kyle J. Harrington of Swansea, and her sister-in-law, Elizabeth Harrington, said Tuesday that Barrett was part of the military honor guard that received Harrington's body at Green Airport in Warwick, R.I., after he died in a forklift accident in Iraq on Jan. 24, 2009.
Barrett later served as one of the pallbearers at Harrington's Feb. 7, 2009, funeral.
Elizabeth Harrington said a mutual friend introduced her to Barrett, following her brother's funeral. She said Barrett told her how difficult it was to see the pained look on the face of one of Harrington's young children when soldiers fired a military salute.
Barrett, she said, was thinking of his own daughter, now 2 years old.
Elizabeth said the family has a photo of Barrett folding the U.S. flag at her brother's services.
After his deployment, their friendship continued and she would speak with him online. "We talked about a lot of silly things," she said Tuesday night, adding they both liked the TV show "Family Guy" and occasionally went jogging before Barrett was deployed.
Harrington laughed to herself as she recalled that Barrett "yelled" at her online for being awake at 4 a.m.
"He was incredibly kind, incredibly caring. He was everything you would want in a friend or a brother," she said. "He's more than you could ask for in a friend."
As food and flowers were being delivered to the Barrett home Tuesday afternoon, a woman who identified herself as Barrett's sister said the family was not ready to speak with the media.
But neighbors and a former teacher at B.M.C. Durfee High School in Fall River, where Barrett graduated in 2007, remembered him as a conscientious young man who loved his family.
Retired Marine Lt. Col. James Meyen, who has run the Navy Junior ROTC program at Durfee the last five years, said Barrett served as the unit's executive officer. He was the second in command of the unit's 100 to 115 students during the 2006-07 school year.
"He always had a penchant for service," Meyen said, explaining that Barrett talked about working as an emergency medical technician or a firefighter.
"He was mature. He knew what he wanted in life," he said.
Meyen said Barrett's parents were supportive of the Junior ROTC program and Barrett's older sister had also been in the unit.
"He was well-liked. Whenever he was given a task, he always gave it his full effort," Meyen said.
Meyen recalled seeing the young soldier in December when Barrett visited the Navy Junior ROTC Christmas party about a month before his deployment.
James Holmes, who lives across the street from the Barrett family, said he had a feeling of dread when the young man headed to Afghanistan. However, he said Barrett himself was enthusiastic about being part of the military, so Holmes hoped for the best that Barrett would return home safely.
"He was an excellent kid. He was thoughtful, very kind. I really liked him," Holmes said.
His thoughts are now with the family.
"You can't help but have your heart go out to them," he said. "It's just something that really touches you because it's such a senseless, senseless death."
Barrett was one of about 40 guardsmen who deployed from this area and was among 650 guardsmen from three units — including the 101st Field Artillery — who received a rousing send-off at the TD Garden when they deployed for yearlong tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Massachusetts National Guard Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, who announced Barrett's death, issued a statement expressing the Guard's condolences.
"The loss of this soldier is truly a tragedy. May the family of Sergeant Barrett find solace in knowing that this brave soldier gave the ultimate sacrifice while defending our nation," he said.
"We also extend our heartfelt condolences to Sgt. Barrett's comrades in the 101st Field Artillery Regiment, particularly those injured alongside him. The entire Massachusetts National Guard family deeply mourns the tragic loss of this loyal and young patriot."