|Lt. Kenneth Barber was the copilot of the B-24 Ready Willing and Able, shown here at the crash site.|
Kenneth Arthur Barber never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on February 25, 1918 in Minnesota. His parents Garnett and Florence were both born in French speaking Canada. His father worked as a clerk and later as a truck driver. Kenneth had an older brother and an older sister. By 1940 Kenneth had completed four years of high school. He worked as an account clerk and lived at home.
He enlisted in the Army Air Forces on March 3, 1943. He became a second lieutenant and copilot in the 579th Bombardment Squadron, 392nd Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force which was equipped with B-24 Liberators.
On April 29, 1944 Lt. Barber was flying the B-24 Ready Willing and Able on a mission to bomb the Friedrichstrasse Railroad Station in Berlin. It was a big raid with 751 bombers. It was thirteenth mission for Barber's crew. It proved to be the second most deadly mission in terms of men killed in the 392nd BG during the entire war. The bombers were attacked by 50 German fighters that made a level pass through the bomber formation in double line-abreast. On the return flight, the B-24s and their fighter protection did not link up and the bombers were attacked by another 100 German fighters.
Lt. Barber's plane was badly shot up but managed to make the flight back to England, However, while in a landing pattern over Wendling Air Base the plane exploded and all 10 crewmen were killed. A likely cause was gas fumes that leaked into the fuselage, a frequent cause of midair explosions in B-24s. Seven other planes also failed to return.
His grave is at Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Last year on this date I profiled Albert Castagnoli, 85th Infantry Division. You can read about Albert here.
On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!
I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.
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