|Past Base Commander
James W. “Jim” Barnes
I entered the Navy in September 1956 after boot camp in San Diego went to Mirmar NAS for five months in
the crash fire department. Never had to work a crash while I was there, glad for that. Then went to DES Base
in San Diego for Engineman Class “A” school. Two of the instructors there were bubbleheads, they
encouraged us to put in for subs. Out of my class of ten, three of us went to sub school, one was stationed
at New London sub base and one went on a submarine rescue vessel. After sub school went to USS Diodon
SS-349 home ported in San Diego. Was qualified in July of 1958, made EN-3 later that year and was a
throttleman in the After Engine Room. Made one WesPac cruise, Christmas of 1958 was my first Christmas
away from home. We had a Christmas Party for some orphan girls, 18 months to about 10 years old, in
Sasebo, Japan with all the trimmings, presents for the kids and ice cream for all. That is probably my most
memorable Christmas, I could speak no Japanese and the kids could speak no English but they sang “Silent
Night” for us in English. Got out of the Navy in September of 1959, left some of the greatest guys I have ever
known, was married in October, worked for Contential Trailways and Alcoa until 1966.
August of 1966 enlisted in the Navy Seabees as a Construction Mechanic 2nd Class, with ideas of going
back to the boats. After two years and two tours of duty in Viet Nam, one during the Tet offensive in 1968,
and I once more left the Navy. They did not want me to transfer back to the boats.
Went to refrigeration school during the day and worked for Timex at night, when school was over I worked for
a refrigeration company in Little Rock for a while. Was offered a job with a factory as a field service rep.
While working for Universal Nolin I once more tried the military, this time in the Army Reserve in the 489th
Engineer Battalion. In 1976 moved to North Carolina, opened my own company installing convenience
stores. Worked for three other refrigeration factories over the years, traveling most of the United States,
some in Canada and Bahamas.
1994 found me wanting to keep both feet on the ground, so in ’95 started driving a truck, some local and
some over the road. Retired in 2000, still have to drive some now and again just to prove that I still can I
My wife of almost 45 years, Sue, and I live in Benton, Arkansas. We have called this home for over 40 years.
We never had any children, know we missed the joys of watching the little ones grow up, but also missed
some of the heartbreak of seeing them get in trouble.