|James W. Barns
USS Diodon (SS 349)
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 guess.
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.