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Local veteran, POW honored in Flag Ceremony and Presentation

Bluefield Daily Telegraph - 4/21/2019

April 21-- Apr. 21--BLUEFIELD -- A local veteran and POW was given a special honor on Saturday afternoon.

Surrounded by smiling and crying family and friends, Clyde Barr, a 97-year-old veteran and POW, was given a Flag Ceremony and Presentation by the Mercer County Veterans Honor Guard on Saturday.

Barr's house was abuzz before the ceremony. The presentation of the flag was a surprise to Barr. His family had come to visit for his 97th birthday, on April 17, and the Easter holiday. Little did Barr know that the Mercer County Veterans Honor Guard would also visit his home.

Before the Flag Ceremony, one of Barr's daughters, Marilyn Gillespie spoke of how proud she is of her father.

"This is a surprise for him. He was in WWII and he was a POW," Gillespie said. "It means so much to me because I know he deserves this."

According to a press release, Barr joined the Army at 21 years old even though he was married, he volunteered. He flew 17 missions at 27,000 feet where temperatures dipped to -70 degrees. Barr was shot down in February 1945 over Austria and was captured by German troops. He sprained his ankle when he landed but was forced to march and sleep on the ground in tents with no blankets.

Barr was a Prisoner of War (POW) for three months. According to the press release, Army General Patton liberated the camp Barr was imprisoned in and personally had the former prisoners flown out. When he arrived in England, Barr immediately called his wife who had not known if he was alive or dead for months.

Also in England, the Red Cross provided a full meal of country fried steak, potatoes and peas and it made the recently-freed prisoners very sick.

Barr and his wife had twin daughters, Marilyn and Carolyn. His wife passed away 40 years ago.

Dave Bailey, Commander of the Honor Guard and First Vice Commander of Post and District of the American Legion said," We present for his service, duty and with our respect."

Bailey also explained to those gathered some of what the flag ceremony meant.

"There are 13 folds in this flag, it is not for the 13 colonies but that is the way it worked out," Bailey said. "In this flag, there are four things that we are going to fold into it: the father, the son, the holy ghost and the Hebrew nation. It is the only thing that those 56 individuals who signed the declaration of independence agreed upon."

During the ceremony and presentation, Barr's house was silent, apart from sniffs, although it was filled with around 50 people.

Bailey said it was heartwarming to get to present the flag to Barr.

"We do a lot of military rights. We do not get a chance often to be able to honor someone in person. And that is what we got to do," Bailey said.

-- Contact Emily Rice at and follow her on Twitter @BDTrice


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