Rear Admiral John M. “Jack” Barrett, USN (ret.), passed away peacefully in the midst of his family on April 18, 2009, at his home in White Salmon, Wash. He was 89 years old.
By his own assessment, Admiral Barrett had “a full and adventurous life”; he was “proud to have been at the cutting edge of a great Navy and grateful for all that America had given him and his family.”
Admiral Barrett was born on March 14, 1920, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the first son of John Joseph Barrett and Margaret O’Neill Barrett. The family moved to Chicago, and later Hollywood, Calif., where he graduated from Loyola High School.
Admiral Barrett then enlisted as an apprentice seaman in the Navy Reserve in 1938 and secured an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy after gathering hundreds of signatures on a petition to his appointing congressman.
At the Academy he enjoyed lacrosse, sailing and working on the Lucky Bag. He graduated with the Class of 1943 in June, 1942 as a member of the 9th Company.
After graduation, Admiral Barrett served during World War II on the USS HALIBUT and the USS TREPANG in the Pacific Theater. During Admiral Barrett’s nine submarine war patrols, 17 Japanese combatant and merchant ships were sunk and eight others damaged. For these actions he was awarded the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for the rescue of a shipmate washed overboard in heavy seas off Okinawa.
After World War II, Admiral Barrett became a carrier aviator. He served in the Korean War, followed by a stint as a naval test pilot. In 1952, Admiral Barrett returned to the submarine service aboard the USS SEA OWL and then commanded the USS TIRANTE. He served as the commissioning commanding officer of the Polaris/Poseidon submarine tender USS CANOPUS and next commanded Polaris Ballistic Missile Submarine Squadron Sixteen based in Rota, Spain.
Admiral Barrett was selected for Flag Rank while commander, Submarine Flotilla One at San Diego, Calif., in 1968. His shore assignments included Head, programs branch, Submarine Warfare Division, Office of Chief of Naval Operations; Director, Plans and Programs, Polaris Special Projects Office and first U.S. Executive Secretary for the Joint US/UK Polaris Program. Admiral Barrett also served as Head, Navy Section of the Joint US Military Mission for Aid to Turkey in Ankara.
Of his seven operational commands during the Cold War, his last two were Commander, Service Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Commander, Naval Logistics Force, Pacific, both at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Authorized to wear Submarine Dolphins, Naval Aviator Wings and the Surface Warfare Insignia, Admiral Barrett always proudly wore the Submarine Dolphins on top.
Admiral Barrett and his wife, the former Eda Joan Odem, of Sinton, Texas, were married for 61 years. After retiring in 1977, Admiral and Mrs. Barrett lived in Honolulu, Hawaii, where Admiral Barrett was a founding Director of the Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Association and was instrumental in the development of BOWFIN Park, the Submarine Museum and the magnificent Submarine Memorial across from the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
In 1990, Admiral and Mrs. Barrett moved from Hawaii to the Columbia River Gorge. Admiral Barrett organized a successful three-year effort to establish the USS BLUEBACK as a memorial to all submarine shipmates on ETERNAL PATROL — past, present and future. BLUEBACK is moored on the Willamette River as part of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, Oregon.
Since moving to White Salmon, Admiral Barrett pursued many passions, including mentoring young men and women to the Service Academies, serving on St. Joseph Parish Council and the White Salmon Pool committee, acting as advisor and sponsor to the White Salmon Youth Center and participating actively in many political campaigns and community issues. He was a loyal member in his favorite coffee group at the Bingen Big River Diner and an active and lively participant in the lives and activities of his children and grandchildren.
In addition to his wife, Admiral Barrett is survived by his five children: John Michael Barrett Jr., USNA ’71(Debra), Ann Barrett Oldfather (Michael Hasken), James Odem Barrett, Capt. Brian Odem Barrett, USN (Kimberlee) and Rebecca Barrett Rawson (Patrick).
Admiral Barrett was a loving grandfather to 14 grandchildren: John Michael Barrett III (Megan); David Odem Barrett; James Francis Odem Barrett; Michael Patrick Oldfather; Michael Richard Hasken Jr.; Eleanor Ann Hasken; Kimberlee Brooke Barrett; Brian Patrick Barrett; Christopher James Barrett; Abigail Elizabeth Barrett; Daniel Francis Rawson; Sean Vincent Rawson; Kathleen Joan Marie Rawson and Claire Rebecca Rawson.
Admiral Barrett is also survived by his brother, James Leonard Barrett (Judy); his sisters-in-law, Mary Elizabeth Odem and Grace Odem Doyle (Richard); numerous nieces and nephews and many friends.
Memorial services will be held at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in White Salmon, Wash., on April 22 at 1 p.m. There will be a Catholic burial and memorial service with military honors and interment St. Andrew’s Chapel at the United States Naval Academy on Friday, April 24, beginning at 9 a.m.
For those who wish, the family suggests memorial contributions to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Building Fund, White Salmon, Wash., the White Salmon/Bingen Youth Center or the charity of your choice in care of Gardner Funeral Home P.O. Box 390, White Salmon, WA 98672.
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