Special to the Opelika Observer
The city of Opelika will host its annual Memorial Day Services on May 27 beginning at 10 a.m. to honor and recognize military heroes who fought for the freedom of our country. The event will be held at the Veterans Memorial Monument, which stands in front of Opelika’s City Hall located at 204 S. 7th St. in downtown Opelika.
This year’s special guest speaker is U. S. Army Veteran Major Doug Barrett.
Barrett is a decorated veteran of the United States Army, a member of Auburn University Student Veterans Association and currently works at the Department of the Army Civilian supporting the Alabama Army National Guard.
Major Barrett first put on the Army uniform as a freshman in Abilene Christian University’s ROTC in 1976. He left school and enlisted in the Army the day after the Iranians took over the U.S. embassy in Terrain in 1979. He spent his first year of active duty participating in actions to rescue the hostages until their release with his A Company 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Infantry. During Major Barrett’s eight years with A Company, 12 of his brothers lost their lives serving the United States.
He joined the Alabama Army National Guard after leaving the active army to help defray college costs. Major Barrett’s first unit in Alabama was the 111th Ordinance Group based in Opelika. He was mobilized four times as a member of the National Guard working with American soldiers as a combat advisor and teacher to the growing Afghanistan National Army. During his deployments, three of his U.S. soldiers were killed in action with 27 of his Afghanistan soldiers all giving their lives to their countries.
Major Barrett served the Alabama National Guard as a traditional guardsman, serving active tours of duty, mobilizations to support national emergencies and conflicts, and as a full-time guardsman for the last 10 years of his service. He served in almost every position in Infantryman battalion with the exception of 1st Sergeant and Command Sergeant Major. He served in four different units in combat. On April 1, 2018, Major Barrett transferred to the Retired Army Reserve with almost 40 years of service.
Out of the several duties he accomplished, Major Barrett believes serving as an official escort to take his soldiers home and serving on a Casualty Notification Team while at Army North to inform a family of their soldier’s death are among the most difficult tasks.
Major Barrett’s awards include a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, four Army Commendation Medals, five Army Achievement Medals, NATO Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Star and Arrow, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M and 2 devise, Italian Cross for Operations in Afghanistan, Ranger Tab, Parachutist Badge and authorization for four combat service bars.
Following the services, the Museum of East Alabama will host a reception for the public so they can view the extraordinary memorabilia of Opelika’s history.
In case of rain, the 10 a.m. services will be moved inside City Hall into the City Council Chambers. For more information, visit www.opelika-al.gov.
Special to the Opelika Observer