Barney Barnum to Receive 2018 Lone Sailor Award

Washington, D.C. -- Harvey C. "Barney" Barnum Jr. has been selected to receive the Lone Sailor Award by the United States Navy Memorial. He will be honored at the annual Lone Sailor Awards Dinner on September 20, 2018 in Washington D.C.

The Navy Memorial presents the Lone Sailor Award to Sea Service veterans who have distinguished themselves, drawing upon their Sea Service experience to become successful in their subsequent careers and lives, while exemplifying the Navy’s core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.

“Colonel Barnum, Secretary Barnum, and citizen Barnum - he is the consummate professional who earns the respect and admiration of everyone he meets,” said retired Rear Admiral Frank Thorp, President and CEO of the US Navy Memorial. “He epitomizes the definition of hero, patriot, and Lone Sailor Award recipient.”

Barney Barnum was born in Cheshire, Connecticut in 1940. He began to demonstrate leadership at a young age, serving as a patrol leader in the Boy Scouts of America and president of his freshman and senior class at Cheshire High School. It was at this high school that he found his calling to join the United States Marine Corps.

On Career Day of his senior year, recruiters from each branch of the military had an opportunity to speak to the students. A recruiter from the Marine Corps watched as the recruiters from each branch was interrupted by the student body. When it was his turn to speak, the recruiter did not make any effort to sway the crowd. Instead, he confronted their rude remarks by saying “There’s no one in this room that I want in my Marine Corp.” He proceeded to scold the students for their behavior, then turned on the faculty for permitting the unruly behavior.

The recruiter, who epitomized military discipline, left a lasting impression on Barnum that would propel him into his career of service. He joined the Marine Corps' Platoon Leaders Class, an officer program at the age 18 at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. After he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics in 1962, he was commissioned as a Marine Reserve second lieutenant and sent to Quantico for training.

“Having the opportunity to lead Marines in combat and observing them react to accomplish what I directed emphasized to me that Marine training prepares Marines to meet the challenges confronted on the battlefield and win. My Marines and Corpsmen were superb,” Barnum said.

He was promoted to first lieutenant in 1964 and, after serving on numerous tours abroad, volunteered for temporary duty in Vietnam as a forward artillery observer with H Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines. Upon arrival in Vietnam, he participated in Operation Harvest Moon, which would change his life forever.

Barnum and his company were ambushed and pinned down by North Vietnamese adversaries in Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam as they were coming out of the Que Son Mountains. The initial rounds mortally wounded the company commander and killed the radio operator leaving the marines pinned down and without a leader.

Barnum removed the radio from the dead operator, strapped it to his own back, quickly took command of the company, and led his Marines in a counterattack. Without a second thought about his own safety, Barnum went up on a knoll and fired a rocket launcher at enemy positions. He knew the odds were against him at 10 to one.

He called for helicopters to extract the dead and wounded and ordered the company’s engineers to blow up a section of the trees in order to make an area for the helicopters to land. When he was told that extraction wasn’t possible, he risked his own life to set an example. He went out into the open, radio in hand, and yelled “If I can stand here, by God, you can land here!”

The helicopters landed shortly thereafter to evacuate the dead and wounded Marines. However, more than 100 Marines had been separated from the remainder of the battalion because of heavy enemy fire. Barnum ordered the Marines with him to blow up all malfunctioning equipment to reduce their weight. He then led them across the 500 yards of fire-swept ground to reunite with the rest of the battalion.

He was presented with the Medal of Honor by former Secretary of the Navy Paul Nitze on February 27th, 1967 at a Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. for his heroism that day. He was the fourth marine in Vietnam to receive the award for valor. After receiving the Medal of Honor, he chose to go back to Vietnam, making him the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor and return for a second tour in Vietnam. Following numerous other assignments, he retired at the rank of Colonel after 27 years of exemplary service.

In his civilian life, Barnum served as the Principle Director of Drug Enforcement Policy within the Office of the Secretary of Defense and later served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Reserve Affairs and acting Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. He currently serves on over a dozen boards including Segs4Vets and the Board of Directors for the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation.

He has received additional awards and decorations including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with “combat V” and gold star, Purple Heart, Defense Superior Service Medal, and Combat Action ribbon. In July of 2016, former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus named the Arleigh-Burke class destroyer, DDG 124, in his honor.

Barnum currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife Martha, who has two children from her first marriage. They have four grandchildren and one great grandchild.

The Navy Memorial’s Lone Sailor Awards Dinner will be held at the National Building Museum on Thursday, September 20th, 2018. This annual gala is held each year in honor of the newest award recipients and brings together senior Navy leadership, the Navy Memorial Board of Directors, corporate influencers, and Washington dignitaries. For information about the Lone Sailor Awards Dinner, please contact Lisa Barker at LBarker(at) or (202) 380-0782.

A full list of Lone Sailor Award Recipients is on the Navy Memorial website.

About the United States Navy Memorial
The Navy Memorial, located at 701 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, consists of a large plaza with a granite map of the world, the iconic Lone Sailor statue, 3,500 square-foot museum area, a 240-person theater, the Ship’s Store which sells Navy memorabilia and the Navy Log, the nation’s largest publicly available data base of sea service veterans. Our mission is to Honor, Recognize and Celebrate the men and women of the Sea Services, past, present and future; and to inform the public about their service. We do that mission with the support of tens of thousands of members and Corporate Partners including USAA, Huntington Ingalls, Veritas, CACI, Lockheed Martin, U.S. Money Reserve, California Water Service Group, NewDay USA, Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition, Capital Bank, Ernst & Young, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Navy Mutual, and Pratt & Whitney. To learn more, visit

Megan Thomas