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Larry Barbee came to the 18th SOS as a navigator/sensor operator in his first operational assignment. Upon arrival at NKP in March of ’72 he was checked out over Laos and then was assigned to Crew 13 to travel to and operate from the Bien Hoa FOL.
On May 2nd he was the NOS for the An Loc mission where three of our comrades were lost. Most of the remainder of the tour was spent flying from Da Nang and Bien Hoa.
During the hectic late spring and early summer of ’72 the Stingers at Da Nang, fearing that their prized stereo equipment would be lost if the enemy overran the base, properly prioritized their actions and shipped their gear back to NKP on our own planes. The crews flew combat missions from Da Nang and landed back in Thailand to rotate aircraft. Larry believes he had the only Sanyo mini- refrigerator to fly a combat mission.
In the summer, Debbie, his wife, came to live in Bangkok where she did substitute teaching at the American School for five months. She made three trips to NKP and Larry was able to go to Bangkok twice during that period. It was an odd fact that while Debbie made trips into Cambodia to renew her visa, the Stingers were going into Cambodia at night to search for targets.
Lt. Barbee left Da Nang in February 73 to return to Mather AFB in California as an instructor navigator. He left Mather in 1976 to fly F-111s in Idaho and spent four years in England with the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing and the 494th TFS Panthers. The 48th was the only wing in the Air Force that had both a name and a number. They had been awarded the name “Statue of Liberty Wing” when they were stationed in France.
Larry and his family returned to Keesler AFB, MS in 1981 where he was a Battle Staff Operations Officer and then a Battle Staff Director on ABCCC (remember Moonbeam, Cricket, Hillsboro and Alleycat?). During his time with at Keesler and later as Chief of EC-130 Current Operations for the 28th Air Division at Tinker AFB, he was able to participate in Urgent Fury and some other obscure skirmishes.
Larry and Debbie retired in 1990 and returned to Texas. They have three children, one each born in California, Idaho, and England and they have three grand children
Larry and Debbie have been married more than 38 years and live near Buda, Texas, where Larry is a Loss Control Consultant for an insurance company and Debbie is a jewelry maker.