A memorial ceremony for USMC Medal of Honor recipient Jedh Colby Barker, celebrating the 50th anniversary of his supreme sacrifice, will be held at
Cpl. Jedh C. Barker Memorial American Legion Post 153, 118 Ridge Ave., Park Ridge, N.J., at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017.
While engaged in a massive firefight as part of Operation Kingfisher, Barker was killed on Sept 21, 1967, southeast of Con Thien near Phu Oc and the DMZ in South Vietnam, throwing his wounded body on a grenade and protecting his fellow Marines.
Cpl. Barker was born in Franklin, N.H., in 1945. His father, Colby, served in the Marine Corps during World War II and the first name, "Jedh" is a combination of the first initials of his father’s Marine buddies: John, Ezekiel, Donald and Herbert.
When he was 6, his family moved to Park Ridge. During his years at Park Ridge High School, he distinguished himself in team sports including football and baseball, serving as co-captain of the former his senior year. In retrospect, his ability to lead and at the same time be cognizant of the team dynamic so essential to success demonstrated the qualities he would later apply to his Marine service.
After two years of college, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in June 1966. In October, he was discharged from the Reserve to enlist in the regular Marine Corps. He did his recruit training at Parris Island, S.C., and underwent individual combat training and weapons special training at Camp Lejeune, N.C. In December, he was promoted to private first class.
From March to June 1967, he was a member of Marine Air Base Squadron 21 in San Francisco. He was subsequently re-assigned as a machine gunner with Company F and sent to Vietnam. He was promoted to lance corporal on Sept. 1.
That Cpl. Barker chose to be a Marine while protests against the war were being staged across the country, and many young men fled the country rather than face the draft, speaks to his personal character and the sense of duty demonstrated by his father, a Marine, who served with distinction during World War II and his brother, Warren, who served in the USMC during Korea and Vietnam.
The bravery and ultimate sacrifice of Lance Corporal Jedh C. Barker has been memorialized in many ways.
In the months after his death, the then-Pascack Valley American Legion Post 153 in Park Ridge resolved to rename the post in his honor and memory and it has been the Jedh C. Barker Memorial American Legion Post 153 ever since. His name is engraved on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Panel 26E, Line 99 and on the date of his death, Sept. 21, 1967, on the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Holmdel.
In 1976, the Marine Corps named a new building in his honor. Barker Hall is located at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. In a letter to the family, the commanding general said naming the building in their son’s honor "will assist in perpetuating the memory of your son, Jedh, in the proud history of our Corps, and is a special recognition of an individual Marine who helped write that history."
A plaque honoring his sacrifice is displayed in Franklin’s borough hall. In addition to the text of the Medal of Honor citation, it bears this inscription: "Presented Nov. 11, 1990 by the townspeople of Franklin, NH, Franklin VFW Post 1698 and auxiliary and the Massachusetts chapter of the Third Marine Division Association in grateful appreciation to a Franklin, NH resident who was awarded the Medal of Honor for exemplary heroism."
A bronze plaque dedicated to his service and supreme sacrifice is located in Veterans Park in the borough of Park Ridge, N.J.
He will be forever remembered by those who knew him as a beloved son and brother, a team player, a loyal friend; and to all who know of his sacrifice, a hero in the truest sense of the word.
He is buried in George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus. His grave marker reads simply:
JEDH COLBY BARKER
MEDAL OF HONOR
L CPL US MARINE CORPS
1945 - 1967
On the 40th anniversary of his death, American Legion Post 153 hosted a celebration of Cpl. Barker’s life, honored his memory at a special event and accepted the Medal of Honor from his family for permanent display with pictures of the family receiving the medal from Vice President Spiro Agnew at the White House on October 31, 1969. Barker’s other medals and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with one Bronze star and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Jedh died a hero. After being wounded in combat, he saved the lives of his remaining brothers in arms by throwing himself on a live hand grenade “with conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty”. The final sentence of his Medal of Honor citation reads: “He gallantly gave his life for his country.” Like many who went before him, he lives on in the hearts of those who knew him.