Sam B. Barrett
Sam B. Barrett
  • August 29, 1928 - August 9, 2017
  • Montgomery, Alabama

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On August 9, 2017, Colonel Sam Burge Barrett, U.S. Air Force (ret) passed away in his home surrounded by his family. A native of Montgomery and son of Leola Dukes Barrett and Alex Cook Barrett, Col. Barrett attended high school at Starke University School where he graduated with honors in athletics and academics in 1947. After high school, Col. Barrett attended Auburn University on a track scholarship. While there, Col. Barrett received an appointment to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point where he graduated in 1953. Shortly thereafter, Col. Barrett married his high school love and fellow Montgomerian, Betty Brunson.

After West Point, Col. Barrett embarked on a distinguished military career in the Air Force. One of his earliest accomplishments was serving on the initial cadre that established the United States Air Force Academy, an institution from which his son, Major Gen. (Select) Sam C. Barrett, would later graduate. An accomplished military pilot, Col. Barrett flew many aircraft including: the C-119; C-130; T-33; and the A-1 Skyraider. Additionally, in 1964, while Stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, Col. Barrett served as a Test Pilot flying the LTV XC-142 Experimental V/STOL aircraft.

In 1968, Col. Barrett served as a combat pilot in Southeast Asia, commanding the 602 Tactical Fighter Squadron and flying the A-1 Skyraider as "Sandy One!" He flew over 500 combat hours on more than 100 sorties in both attack and search and rescue roles mostly over North Vietnam. Under his watch, 99 downed American airmen were successfully rescued, and he was personally involved in two missions where fellow airmen were awarded the Medal of Honor. For his service in combat, Col. Barrett was awarded 4 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 11 Air Medals, and the Bronze Star. Upon return from Vietnam, Col. Barrett served as the senior assistant to General John D. Ryan, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He was later the Wing Commander of the 463 Tactical Airlift Wing at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas from 1974-1976.

Upon retirement from active duty, Col. Barrett returned home to Montgomery and led the U.S. Air Force Junior ROTC Program at Robert E. Lee High School for twelve years, where he positively influenced the lives of many young men and women. In 2003, Col. Barrett was inducted into the Robert E. Lee High School Hall of Fame. Col. Barrett's 39 years in uniform were served with great loyalty, honor, dignity and courage. He was an aviator of the finest caliber, a leader of great integrity, and an example of selfless service to his family, his country, and his community.

He is survived by his beloved wife Betty, his daughters Phoebe McCann (Marvin) of Apex, North Carolina, Betsy Hails (Eddie) of Montgomery, Major Gen. (Select) Sam C. Barrett (Kelly) of Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, his brother Fred Barrett of Cincinnati, Ohio, nine grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. The family is sincerely grateful to all of Col. Barrett's special caregivers including: Latasha Williams; Rosia Williams; Kimberly Shannon; Mattie Crenshaw; and Yolanda Shuford. There will be a graveside service at 1:00 PM Saturday August 12, 2017 at Greenwood Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Air Force Aid Society in Memory of Col. Sam Burge Barrett at or by mail to The Air Force Aid Society, Inc. 241 18th Street S., Suite 202, Arlington, VA 22202 or First United Methodist Church, Montgomery, Alabama.