Salute to Service – Maj. Gen. Raymond O. Barton

August 17th, 2017 by

Salute to Service – Maj. Gen. Raymond O. Barton

As part of an ongoing series, each week the Bob Richards Blog plans to turn it’s focus away from the cars we sell, and dedicate some time to the brave men and women of the local military community – who we are very proud to serve – by profiling the life, career and legacy of important past members of the CSRA’s military community. This week, we start by looking back at Major General Raymond O. Barton.

Barton was born in 1889, in Granada, Colorado, but beyond that, little is known about his childhood. He did receive schooling, however, and entered the U.S. Military academy in 1908 where alongside his military instruction he also boxed and wrestled. Barton received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant after graduating from the academy in 1912, but that wasn’t all he left West Point with… Despite his athletic ability Barton also gained a nickname among his classmates – ‘Tubby’ – a moniker that would stick with him throughout his military career.

While not seeing combat in World War I, Barton – in command of the 1st Battalion of the 8th Infantry Regiment – was part of the post-war occupation force. He got married in 1922 before returning home to America and spending the inter-war years in military education. Beginning as a student at the Command and General Staff school, he would also become an instructor there four years after completing his own studies. Barton graduated from the Army War College in 1933 and took up a position at Georgetown University (as professor of Military Science and Tactics), where he would stay for four years. He served in the 4th Infantry division throughout World War 2, first as chief of staff before taking the role of commanding general on July 3, 1942. At the time, the division was based at what is now Fort Gordon, and had been in training for over a year since their activation in June 1940. This training included special instruction in amphibious landings and assaults, as – though they didn’t know it at the time – the men of the 4th Division were prepared for their first combat assignment.

Major General Barton and his 4th Division arrived in Europe in the run-up to the Allied invasion of Normandy, and due to their amphibious assault training, they were tasked with spearheading the landing on Utah beach. So it was that on the morning of June 6, 1944 men of the 4th Division’s 8th Infantry Regiment, General Barton’s old regimental command, were the first to set foot on Utah beach – and they would remain at the front of the Allied advance for the rest of the war. After helping to secure Cherbourg and the rest of the Cotentan peninsula in the Normandy campaign, Barton and ‘The Furious Fourth’ would go on to liberate Paris, take on and defeat the Siegfried line – and just as they had been on D-Day – a 4th Division patrol was the first Allied unit to set foot in Nazi Germany on September 11th, 1944. Coincidentally, Barton had also been among the last men to leave German soil as the U.S pulled out of Europe following World War 1. He had to relinquish command due to ill health in late December of that year, but by the time victory over Germany finally came, incredibly the 4th had led the Allies all the way from Utah beach to positions south of Munich, and only a few miles from the Austrian border.

For his service to his country in command of the 4th Division, Maj. Gen. Barton was awarded 2 Army Distinguished Service Medals as well as the Silver Star, and after the war took command of the 2nd Infantry Division for a short time, before retiring from active duty in 1946. Upon his return to civilian life, Barton settled in Augusta where he was active in the finance and real estate sectors, as well as holding the position of Vice President of the chamber of commerce. Raymond Oscar Barton sadly passed away in 1963 and was laid to rest in Westover Memorial Park, but not before the 4th Division’s exploits were immortalized on the silver screen in the 1962 film ‘The Longest Day’. He was played by Edmond O’Brien, most notably opposite Henry Fonda as Theodore Roosevelt Jr. in a scene where Barton grants Roosevelt permission to go ashore among the first attackers on Utah beach. It may seem straight from a Hollywood script, but these events DID take place more or less as shown, and it was Roosevelt Jr. – the President’s son, don’t forget – who led the first units to land while waiting for Barton to come ashore. Today, Barton Field at Fort Gordon is named in memory of this amazing man and his deeds, and in another fitting tribute, the 4th Infantry Division is currently based out of Fort Carson in Colorado – the state where Barton was born.

 

Sources:
‘Raymond O. Barton – Memorial’: http://apps.westpointaog.org/Memorials/Article/5085/
Wikipedia – Raymond O. Barton: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_O._Barton
Wikipedia – 4th Infantry Division: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4th_Infantry_Division_(United_States)
‘MG Raymond Oscar “Tubby” Barton’: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=47292938
‘Raymond O. Barton’ at Hall of Valor: http://valor.militarytimes.com/recipient.php?recipientid=100026
Biography at’ dday-overlord.com’: http://www.dday-overlord.com/en/battle-of-normandy/biographies/usa/raymond-barton
‘The 4th Infantry Division in World War II’, from youtube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nycp9_bvJZM
‘The Longest Day’ at IMDB.com: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056197/

Posted in Salute To Service