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Vietnam Veteran honored with road bearing his name

Family in attendance at ceremony for fallen soldier

Extended family and friends of Sgt. Meredith Barnett, who gave his life for a fellow U.S. Marine during the Vietnam War, gather in Goodfellows Park in Warren Township Monday for the dedication of a section of Ohio 550 in Barnett’s name. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

WARREN TOWNSHIP — Two years after his brother was inducted into the Washington County Veterans Hall of Fame, Robert Barnett still had few words for the recognition Sgt. Meredith L. Barnett is receiving 50 years after paying the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country.

On Monday, the late Sgt. Barnett was recognized at a ceremony at Goodfellows Park for the renaming of a stretch of Ohio 550 as the Sgt. Meredith L. Barnett Memorial Highway.

“It’s still too many memories,” said Bob Barnett, Meredith’s younger brother, who attended the ceremony held by the Washington County Veteran Service Commission Monday. “All of the things he didn’t get to see here. I was in high school when he left in ’68, I graduated in ’69, then college when we found out he died in ’70.”

Bob Barnett still lives on the family farm on Barnett Ridge Road, which will mark the entrance into the dedicated stretch that will conclude at Stone Quarry Road.

Sgt. Barnett was in a night defensive position northwest of Da Nang, Vietnam, when his platoon came under an artillery attack on Nov. 6, 1970. He received the Silver Star and Purple Heart.

Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5108 honor guard pay tribute to Sgt. Meredith Barnett at the dedication of the Sgt. Meredith L. Barnett Memorial Highway, designating Ohio 550 between Barnett Ridge Road and Stone Quarry Road in Barnett’s name. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

“We’re going to formally dedicate part of route 550 in his name,” said state Sen. Frank Hoagland. “This guy’s a true patriot from my perspective. Sgt. Barnett understood the importance of team, teammate, self. The world that I come from, that’s what we looked at. The world that I come from it’s always the team, teammates and you’re the last one involved.”

Under heavy fire on that evening of November, Barnett used his 6-foot-4 frame to shield a fellow U.S. Marine, giving his life in exchange.

Monday, his memory was honored by the renaming ceremony, with the new signs to be posted by the Ohio Department of Transportation along the state highway this week.

Hoagland’s legislative aide, Reagan Burke, said after Hoagland’s office received the formal paperwork nominating the memorial highway designation, the proposal was introduced and went through the legislative process, culminating in the adoption of House Bill 276.

But the honors didn’t stop with a speech and signs, both the honor guard of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Sgt. Bob O’Malley detachment of the Marine Corps League also were present Monday to pay homage to Barnett’s sacrifice.

Washington County Veterans Service Commissioner Jared Smith and Executive Director Robert Fitzgerald said the work to honor Barnett’s service is not done.

“This effort was started by Chad Wright when he was alive, he got the paperwork in order to send it down range,” said Fitzgerald.

“Chad started working on this about a year ago, and we’re still submitting (Barnett) for the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor,” Smith said.

Wright died on May 23 and was a veterans service officer following the conclusion of his active duty service, also as a Marine.

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