Barber brothers laid to rest
Residents line New London streets during funeral procession
By John Faucher
It was a sailor’s breeze with a full morning sun as it gently caressed hundreds of American Flags lining the roads of Most Precious Blood Cemetery in New London, Saturday, Sept. 11.
The day would become one of the most historic days this small 148-year old cemetery would ever see.
Three American Heroes, brothers Malcom, Randolph and Leroy Barber were to be laid to rest here that day.
Navy Fireman 1st Class Malcom J. Barber, Fireman 1st Class Leroy K. Barber and Fireman 2nd Class Randolph H. Barber lost their lives aboard the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941 during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The brothers were among 429 crewmen killed aboard the ship during the attack that catapulted the United States into World War II.
Two-thousand four-hundred and three US servicemen and women died in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased Oklahoma crew between 1941 and 1944. Unidentified remains were interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency exhumed the USS Oklahoma Unknowns for scientific analysis and possible identification, at which time; the DPAA laboratory identified the brothers.
The Barber brothers’ remains were accounted for on June 10, 2021.
Nearly 80 years after their passing, arrangements were made to return the Barber brothers home to New London for a graveside service with full military honors.
Community rallies support
Members of the Barber family worked closely with local officials, the Department of the Navy, and Cline Hanson Funeral Home on their arrangements.
On Saturday hundreds of community members carrying flags lined city streets to show their respect and support for the Barber brothers and family as the funeral procession made its way to the cemetery.
The New London Fire Department and the Wisconsin Patriot Honor Guard led the procession.
Cline Hanson Funeral Home Director Kent Rush said,” It was pretty amazing to see the turnout and support everyone showed along the route.
“It was really touching for the family,” said Rush.
Many community members followed into the cemetery after the procession.
United States Navy Chaplain Benjamin Schroeder provided the service.
Schroeder has served the seaside community (Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) at numerous bases and installations across the United States and abroad.
He currently serves as a chaplain at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King and continues to serve in the Navy Reserve.
Schroder encouraged those in attendance to cherish “the precious God given freedoms that we have in our Nation.”
“We honor the memory of these three bothers. We thank God for them, for their service and the families who supported them,” said Schroeder.
He noted the family’s request to also acknowledge the service and the sacrifice of the firefighters, police officers and first responders who gave up their lives 20 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001.
“December 7, 1941 and Sept. 11, 2001 have much in common,” said Schroeder.
“Both were unprecedented attacks on our Nation, and both caused tremendous loss of lives.
“Most significantly they remind us of the values of service, selflessness and sacrifice. May we never forget these people and may we never forget the value they exemplify for us,” said Schroeder.