NEW HAVEN — Mason County’s reverence for veterans is demonstrated in more than words but deeds to honor the fallen.
At 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 3 at the Veterans Memorial at the New Haven Fire Station, the late 1st. Sgt. Robert Nicholas Barton II will be remembered when a portion of W.Va. 62 between Mason and New Haven will be named in his honor.
Though Barton wasn’t a native of Mason County, he was the son of Rebecca Ann Paugh Coleman from New Haven and Robert Nicholas Barton, who grew up in Mason. 1st. Sgt. Barton of the U.S. Army was killed in action on June 7, 2010, in the Konar (Kunar) province of Afghanistan, the result of an IED explosion that claimed his life along with four other members of his company. His body was located 200 miles down the Konar River on June 23, 2010. He was buried in Hopkinsville, Ky. with full military honors. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart Medal.
The past January, State Sen. Karen Facemyer asked 1st. Sgt. Barton be considered for the dedication of roadway in his honor via legislation which was passed in March. Facemyer, who is wrapping up her last term this year, said she was aware of Barton’s sacrifice for his country through being classmates with his mother Rebecca at Wahama High School. Facemyer said Barton’s loss was “devastating” to his family and one she could relate to having lost her own father, who served in the U.S. Army, when she was just four years old.
Facemyer along with officials in the town of New Haven, local veterans and others are working hard to pull off Friday’s dedication event and have secured a special speaker for it - Hershel “Woody” Williams, Medal of Honor recipient. Williams is well known in West Virginia and is the state’s last living Medal of Honor recipient. He received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions “above and beyond the call of duty” on Iwo Jima in 1945.
As for 1st. Sgt. Barton, he also received several other commendations and awards while serving his country, including two Bronze Stars, one Meritorious Service Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, two Army Superior Unit Awards, five Army Good Conduct Medals, two National Defense Service Medals, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, two Armed Forces Service Medals, three Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbons, one Army Service Ribbon, three Overseas Campaign Ribbons, one NATO Medal, the Drill Sergeant Identification Badge, the Ranger Tab, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Pathfinder Badge, the Air Assault Badge and the Expert Weapons Qualification Badge (M4).
Barton was a career soldier who completed six overseas tours of duty in Bosnia (twice), Kuwait, Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan and achieved the rank of First Sergeant of A Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.
Born on Nov. 28, 1974 at Fort Knox, Ky., Barton was 35 when he was killed in 2010. He was survived by his wife, Rebecca Barton, and stepson, Jason Wells; his mother, Rebecca Coleman; his father, Robert Nicholas Barton; his sister, Stephanie Barton; brothers, Nathaniel Coleman, Nicholas Barton and Robbie Roush; maternal grandparents, Rodra Patricia Paugh and Joseph Franklin Paugh; paternal grandparents, Doris Roberts and Robert W. Barton; niece, Ranan Joy Barton; and nephews, Kyle Lee Boles and Phillip Carlos Hall.
The section of roadway from the New Haven corporation limits to the Bridge of Honor in Mason will be known as the “1st. Sgt. Robert Nicholas Barton II Memorial Highway.”