Mississippi vet's dying wish honored - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Mississippi vet's dying wish honored

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

At 92 years old, WWII veteran Bill Barnes can look at old war pictures and remember all the details.

"It takes me back to the 1940s, when I was much younger," said Barnes as he looks over pictures.

A native of Clarksdale, his decision to join the military was made after hearing a radio broadcast on December 7th of 1941. That was the attack on Pearl Harbor. Barnes was 21 years old.

"The very next day, December 8th, 1941, I drove to Memphis and joined the Coast Guard," said Barnes.

Barnes would soon find himself at sea, stationed on a ship for almost two years.

"This is me and my gun. My 20 mm anti-aircraft gun," said Barnes pointed to a picture of him.

As a gunner, Barnes is credited by the Navy with shooting down four Japanese aircrafts and assisting in the downing of three more. It's stories like those, from Mississippi veterans, especially those in the Coast Guard, which Barnes wants remembered.

Knowing his time on earth is reaching an end, Barnes has a dying wish. About a month ago, through his hospice care, he wished for his uniform to be displayed in the Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby. He actually gave it to the museum back in 2004, but it hasn't been put up. Now, with his wish, eight years later it's about to come true.

"I hope I don't cry, but I'll be real touched to see it again," said Barnes.

In a few days Barnes will be honored at the museum as his uniform and several cherished pictures and personal items become fixtures in Mississippi's military history.

"There were 412,000 men killed in WWII fighting for this country and I think they are do that respect," said Barnes.

The ceremony for Barnes will be this Friday at the Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg. It's set to begin at 10 am.

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