There are many reasons people want a promotion, be it bigger office, more money, company car, an assistant, more power and so on. William Barber Sr. wanted a promotion, but he wanted one for an entirely different reason. He didn’t want to be forgotten.
Barber was a crew member aboard the Coast Guard patrol boat, Stephen Mckeever, during World War II. He and his crew were tasked with intercepting German U-Boats that entered American waters.
During one such patrol while caught in a violent storm, Barber and another crew member were injured by an explosion in the engine room. The engine room could only be accessed by the outer deck.
The violent seas made it impossible for them to escape, or for any of the crew members to reach them for 8 days. The only access the men aboard had to their injured crew members was through a ventilation shaft in which food and water was passed.
When the seas finally subsided Barber was rescued and taken to a hospital in Virginia; there he would spend the next 2 months recovering from his injuries. When he was released in October of 1943, he had learned by way of letter that he had been discharged from the Coast Guard. He never even got a pat on the back.
Decades later he would confide in his son that he felt betrayed. He felt that the Coast Guard had forgotten about him and his sacrifice to his country.
“I made it that day, my mission to make sure that he was never forgotten,” said William Barber, Jr.
So he reached out to members of the 9th Coast Guard District in Cleveland, and shared his frustration with how his father had been treated. He told them that before the explosion his father had been up for a promotion, one that he would never receive.
Months later Barber was notified that his father would be given the honorary promotion to the rank of Motor Machinist Mate First Class, a title that had eluded him until now. Coast Guard Lieutenant-commander Jeffrey Plummer would present Barber, Sr. with his promotion certificate.
“Thank you for your service to our great nation,” said Plummer. “We want you to know that you are a shipmate and that we are not going to forget about you.”
It had taken him 69 years but he finally got the recognition he deserves.
Thank you for your service Motor Machinist First Class Barber.