I answer to several names. The name I was given at birth, July 8, 1950, is Francis Lee Barr, However, my mother's name was also Frances, so while we lived near Weldon, Iowa where I started to school, everyone called me Lee. The military uses given names so during that period of my life, I was Francis. Now as an adult, living near Osceola, I am known as Frank.

I began school at rural Knox #4, and graduated from third grade in 1958. I attended Woodburn school for fourth grade. In the 1960s, we moved to the property just outside Osceola, and I went to East Elementary. For the sixth grade, I attended West Ward, and seventh and eighth in the old high school. The last four years I was in Clarke Community High School and I graduated in 1968. For about 1 1/2 years, I helped John Whitehead on his farm with haying and weeding.

I enlisted in the Army in November, 1969.  There was a draft at the time but I chose to enlist. For a reason I don't recall, there was an option. We could delay reporting for duty for three months, which I chose to do and thus I could be home for the holidays.

January 20, 1970, I reported and was sent to Ft. Lewis, Washington for Basic Training. From the base we could see Mt. McKinley, which was quite a sight, and I remember a march to Puget Sound. At the end of basic, on March 13, I had a two week's leave. Amongst the papers I have kept is a 1970 travel voucher, and I remember that they paid from station to station to which we were assigned, but we were not paid for trips home.

April 10, 1970, I reported to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland for AIT (Advanced Individual Training). My MOS (Military Occupational Speciality), was wheel and tracks mechanics which related to engines and transmission of everything the military had that was on wheels or tracks. That would be tanks and trucks — or, in general, anything that moves. We were also trained in guns and ammunition. On May 20, 1970. I was promoted to E2. My ranks became important steps because they each meant a raise in pay. On July 8, 1970, I was promoted to E3, which is PFC (Private 1st class), and July 22, 1970, still at Aberdeen, I made E4 (Specialist 4th Class, which was equivalent to Sergeant. I had a 30 day leave and came home at that time.

August 23, 1970: I was transferred to Oakland, California, which is an Army overseas replacement station. I was only there about two days before I was sent to Okinawa. We were flown everywhere we went, and in this case, we flew from California to Hawaii, had a lay-over for a couple hours, then on to Okinawa. There were 17 of us together in Aberdeen who were sent to Okinawa, but five of us always ran around together; Mark Bauer and James Fox were from Virginia; Eckhard Binsaw from Pennsylvania; Steven Tinch from Rochester, New York; and, of course, I was from Iowa. I'm not sure what drew us together except that we all had the same sense of humor, the same likes, etc.

We were called permanent parties, to distinguish those of us assigned there from others who might be there for a short time — for basic training, for instance. It was, in other words, our duty station. We were on TDY (temporary duty) if we were assigned somewhere for a month or two. I didn't go anywhere except Okinawa.

My job on Okinawa for the 18 months was to tear down and completely rebuild all the trucks. I worked in the engine branch, tearing down and rebuilding the engines. Among my papers, I have an Award for Driver and Mechanics Badge, which means simply a license to drive. I ended up working the second shift. We put engines on a dynometer. It takes water in to restrict the power of the engine, so we could check the horse power and rpm (revolutions per minute).

Okinawa, at that time, was under U.S. rule, and it wasn't much different than living in the United States. It isn't a large island. It was only 60 miles long and two miles wide at the narrowest and about 18 at the widest. The speed limit was 40 miles an hour. Mark bought a car so we had transportation and toured the island. His brother, a Captain in the Air Force, was stationed there and told us places to visit.

When we first arrived, we lived in barracks. As time went on, even though there was no living allowance if we lived off base, the five of us rented a small house and lived in it for about nine months. We still reported in every day, the same as though we lived on base, and rotated for guard duty. I remember one incident near Thanksgiving. It was a little cool, so we lit a kerosene heater. Something went wrong and it caught fire. We had a couple broom sticks and were able to get it outside, then we began beating on it to put out the fire.  A neighbor saw us and said, "My goodness, is that your turkey?"

We ate most of our meals on base. We'd get up in the morning, ready to start the day and go to the base for breakfast, then we'd eat our evening meal there before we returned at the end of the day. We had a refrigerator and bought some food that we kept at the house.

We had about eight free hours every day and took advantage of having a beach. We did body surfing, and there were huge wooden spools that wire came wrapped around. We would get on them and jump off. One day we were messing around with a spool and weren't paying much attention. Suddenly somebody looked up and saw that the tide had come in and we were about a quarter mile from the shore. A ship was anchored out there but we didn't get out that far. I'd been snorkeling but I wasn't a strong swimmer. However, between my efforts and with their help, they got me back.

We didn't have much contact with the Okinowans. They were of Japanese descent, and didn't speak a lot of English. About the only ones we had contact with were those who worked in the stores.

There was a typhoon while we were there. Other ships were affected by it but it wasn't that close to us. It did cause high waves. There was also a drought while we were there and water was rationed for while. For our baths, we used water from a 55 gallon drum in our bathroom.

On November 14, 1971. I was promoted to E5. It was unusual to be promoted to E5 in less than two years.

We were on Okinawa until April, 1972. We returned to the States April 2nd and landed at LAX (Los Angeles Airport). I had leave and came home for awhile, then was sent to Fort Lee, Virginia, to Camp Pickett and Camp A.T. Hill, which was a training center for Reserves. I was told they were coming in for war games. We cleaned up the barracks, set up beds, put on bedding, etc. I worked in the motor pool for awhile until my discharge on February 20, 1972.

I came back to Osceola, and had several jobs. I worked for McGahuey Implement, the John Deere dealership in Leon. In 1980, I worked with brother George, in Mississippi and Texas on power line pole maintenance. I came back and worked for Barnett Implement, Massey Ferguson dealership, on the east edge of Osceola. I went from there to Van Loon Implement, and on December 13, 1994 to Paul Mueller Company, building tanks for dairy farms. I'm still there.

In 1990, Eileen Jackson and I were married. We have three children — Eric Lee, Eli Emery, and Kira Rose. The children are enrolled in school in Murray. In the present school year 2008-2009, Eric is in 9th grade, Eli is in 7th, and Kira is in 4th. Eileen works at the casino, in security, on the graveyard shift.

A favorite pastime of mine is motorcycling on my Harley Davidson Sportster.

Our family, including the extended family, stays quite close,. Of course, they have scattered. John Whitehead's children live in Florida. Some others are in California and Illinois, but we have an annual reunion that draws from seven generations, starting with my great-grandfather. It involves an entire weekend. On Friday we get together for a card party. Last year about 40 showed up to play cards. Saturday toward evening they gather at our house for a barbecue and volleyball. About 80 people come to that. Sunday is the annual reunion at Mallory Park at Murray, and there are usually around 100 who attend.

Mom used to be the official record-keeper for the Whitehead family, recording births, marriages and deaths. Mom's niece, Kathy Files, took her place when Mom was no longer able to do it. Kathy is keeping it on CDs. These records go back seven generations. Each year at the reunion, we have a meeting and talk about those statistics. The book goes back to Mom's grandfather. Mom was interested in genealogy and discovered on the Barr's side there was some connection to a person who prevented an Indian from scalping the father of the president-to-be, Abraham Lincoln. We are connected somehow to Daniel Boone but it is by marriage, not the blood line. There was also some connection with Harrison. I think some relative wrote a history about that.

Robert is in New York. I believe he was in the service for five years in Korea and Germany. When his three years were up, he was in Korea. I recall his telling that unmarried servicemen were an attraction for the single girls who saw them as a way to get to the United States. Once they were here, they wanted a divorce. Robert recognized that and went to Germany to get away from them.




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