Memorial Ceremony in Baghdad allows friends, comrades to say goodbye
May 17, 2009
BAGHDAD - 'Modest, innocent, humble, cheerful, generous, respectful, and selfless' were the words repeated over and over by those who spoke of 20 year-old Army Reserve Specialist Jacob Barton, during his Memorial Service held in the packed, standing room only chapel on Camp Liberty, May 14. As the kind words poured forth from those Barton touched, you could hear the grief and sadness felt for the young man whose life ended so abruptly earlier this week in a tragic shooting incident.
"Barton was very innocent. He was just a boy - still a kid. We finally got him to start standing up for himself and he was really starting to develop," stated Sgt. Alexis Hernandez, Spc. Barton's squad leader, 277th Engineer Company, a native of San Antonio. "Wish he could've experienced so much more in life."
Spc. Barton was raised in Lenox, Mo., a town with a population of only three families. His friends say that small-town upbringing, coupled with his kind heart made him seem a bit naAfA-ve, sheltered, and quite innocent.
"[Barton] often found himself being tricked by his peers because of his trusting nature and very limited exposure to the corruption of the outside world," stated Capt. Gordon Robbins, commander, 277th Eng. Co., a native of Junction, Texas, during the eulogy. "It was his purity and trusting nature that allowed him to take the pranks without ever holding a grudge against his buddies."
Barton was stationed with the 955th Eng. Co., based in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., but was cross-leveled to the 277th and deployed with them. Members of his platoon say when Spc. Barton first arrived from Missouri to San Antonio, he was eager to learn as much as he could about the maintenance field and explore the city around him.
"He came to this unit as green as a blade of grass," stated Spc. Jason Mata, close friend, and fellow mechanic, 277th Eng. Co. "It was his first time since basic training that he had been away from Missouri. [Barton] didn't know what the feel of a big city was like."
"I was determined to change that," Mata continued. "We were granted an overnight pass, and I was going to make sure he saw the bright lights of San Antonio. He had the time of his life that night and thanked me tremendously for taking him out with the other Soldiers."
Spc. Barton also had a strong sense of duty. He worried frequently about taking care of his family back home and was constantly chatting online with his sister.
"The reason Spc. Barton served his country and volunteered for this deployment was to provide financial benefits for his family back home in Missouri," stated Robbins during the eulogy. "While most Soldiers dream of using their pay for things which directly benefit only them...Spc. Barton only wanted to provide for his family."
Trying to juggle a new career, his first deployment, and the death of his mother prompted him to seek help from professionals at the Combat Stress Center on Camp Liberty.
"[Spc. Barton] was at the Combat Stress Clinic voluntarily, because he had the personal courage to recognize Mother's Day had brought forth strong emotions of the recent loss of his mother," stated Lt. Col. Matthew Zajac, commander, 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), a native of Schaumburg, Ill. "He simply desired to talk with someone trained to listen."
Barton died from a gunshot wound inflicted by another Service Member at the medical facility. The shooting suspect was taken into military custody and the incident is under investigation by the U.S. Army.
"Barton was very generous and never thought of the cost to himself," stated Spc. Daniel Castillo, 277th Eng. Co., close friend to Spc. Barton, and a native of San Antonio. "He was just a simple guy, didn't complain about this or that, and always tried his best. It's just as simple as that."
As the Soldiers said goodbye to a friend and comrade they knew only briefly - but had impacted their lives so strongly, they tried to make sense of such a senseless tragedy.
"Through his eyes life was pure and innocent, but the good Lord saw cruelty and deception in his path and decided to send the angels for him," stated Hernandez. "The Lord made a decision to keep him pure and innocent in heaven forever. Our Maker has bigger plans for a person with a heart as pure as Spc. Barton's."