Vern F Barnett

Vern F Barnett

World War II

WW2 Fallen - B-17 tail gunner Vern Barnett

    Vern Francis Barnett was born on December 27, 1917 in Utah. His father Eli was also born in Utah and his mother Minnie was born in Nebraska. His father worked as a lumberyard wagon driver and later as a mine industry teamster. Still later he worked as a farmer. Vern had four older sisters, one younger brother (who served in the Navy in WW2), and two younger sisters. By 1940 Vern had completed four years of high school and was working as a rock mason.

    He enlisted in the army on February 21, 1941. Seven months later Vern married Meredith Shepherd.

    He became a second lieutenant in the 366th Bombardment Squadron, 305th Bombardment Group which was equipped with B-17 Flying Fortresses. The 305 BG arrived in England in November 1942. Lt. Barnett likely joined his unit much later.

    On February 25, 1944 Lt. Barnett was the tail gunner in Lt. Bob Safranek's B-17 on a bombing mission to Augsburg. It was part of an effort known as 'Big Week' when the 8th Air Force focused on dealing a heavy blow to the German air industry and depleting the German fighter squadrons. Over 3,000 sorties were executed in six days dropping 10,000 tons of bombs.

    Lt. Barnett's plane was hit by flak north of Stuttgart. Seven airmen survived and became prisoners of war. Lt. Barnett and two others were killed. I don't know why Barnett, as a lieutenant, was acting as a gunner, which was an assignment given to sergeants. Lt Barnett's plane was one of the last of the 137 bombers lost by the 8th Air Force over six days. The Germans lost 355 fighter planes and 100 irreplaceable fighter pilots during 'Big Week'.

    His (most likely cenotaph) grave is at Payson City Cemetery in Utah. His widow remarried and died in 1976.

    Thank you Vern for your sacrifice.