Barber, Rex Theodore, Col

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 1056-Pilot, Two-Engine Fighter
Last AFSC Group
Pilot (Officer)
Primary Unit
1945-1946, AAF MOS 1055, 29th Fighter Squadron
Service Years
1940 - 1961
Officer Collar Insignia

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Harry McCown (Mac) to remember Barber, Rex Theodore, Col USAF(Ret).

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Culver, Oregon
Last Address
Terrebonne, Oregon

Date of Passing
Jul 26, 2001
Location of Interment
Redmond Memorial Cemetery - Redmond, Oregon
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Section L, Plot 548

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

Air Ace American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Air Force Memorial (AFM)American Fighter Aces Association
  2015, Air Force Memorial (AFM) [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2015, American Fighter Aces Association

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Participated in Operation Vengeance, the mission to shoot down Admiral Yamamoto, and credited with his shoot down, however controversial... (See

Barber was born and raised in Culver, Oregon. He was a student at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon for a period of time, before being drafted.
[edit]Military service

Barber received his commission as a U.S. Army officer and his pilot's wings on October 31, 1941. He joined the 70th Pursuit Squadron, which arrived at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, in December 1942. Flying a Bell P-39, he scored his first victory by downing a Japanese bomber on the 28th. Upon transfer to the 339th Squadron, he began flying P-38 Lightnings and claimed two Zero fighters on April 7.

On April 18, Lieutenant Barber figured prominently in the Yamamoto interception. Intelligence sources had learned that Yamamoto would be flying in a "Betty" bomber on an inspection tour of Japanese bases in the northern Solomon Islands. Most military historians credit Barber with the sole kill of Yamamoto's aircraft. Previously, Barber and Captain Thomas George Lanphier, Jr. were officially credited with half a kill each in Yamamoto's bomber. Barber also shared a second Betty destroyed on the same mission. In 2003, he was officially credited with the sole kill after an inspection analyzed the crash site and determined the path of the bullet impacts, thereby validating Barber's account and invalidating Lanphier's claim.

After his tour of duty ended in June 1943, then-Captain Barber requested a return to combat. Late that year, he joined the 449th Fighter Squadron in China, still flying P-38s. He claimed three further Japanese planes probably destroyed and damaged, but he was shot down on his 139th mission, bailing out near Kiukiang on April 29. He was rescued by Chinese civilians, who treated his injuries and escorted him to safety five weeks later. At the end of the war, Barber attained the rank of major and commanded one of America's first jet squadrons. He retired as a colonel in 1961.

Barber was awarded the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars, a Purple Heart,an Air Medal and numerous other awards over his military career, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars Gold Medal of Merit.


Detailed histories, all copywritten, can be found in the Notes/Links section
Other Comments:
Notes/Links: (info on assign) (correction of records regarding shoot down) (Barber in China where he became squadron commander until he was injured from his bail out after being shot down in April 1944)
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  1944-1944, 1st Fighter Group

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 1st Fighter Group Details

1st Fighter Group




- Campaigns: American Theater (anti-submarine,) Egypt-Libya, Europe (air offensive,) Algeria"THE OLDEST FIGHTER ORGANIZATION IN THE USAF"

-Assigned to the 8th., 12th. and 15th. Air Forces
- First Fighter Group to cross the Atlantic in their own aircraft (Operation Bolero.)
- First Fighter Group in 8th.AF to fly missions over enemy-held territory.
- Responsible for the first Axis aircraft downed in the ETO
- Campaigns: American Theater (anti-submarine,) Egypt-Libya, Europe (air offensive,) Algeria, French Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Naples, Foggia, Anzio, Rome, Arno, Normandy, Northern France, North Apennines, Rhineland, Central Europe, Po Valley, EAME (Europe, Africa, Mediterranean) Theaters (air combat)
- Three Distinguished Unit Citations
- Group Call Signs: "Petdog" (27th.FS), "Cragmore" (71st.FS), "Springcap" (94th.FS) (Effective 10 Sept.,1942)
"1 to 30" (27th.FS), "31 to 59" (71st.FS), "60 to 90" (94th.FS) (Effective February, 1944)
- Additional Call Signs were used , these included: "Cockney", "Doorknob", "Warrior" and "Highlife".

In 1943 the different squadrons began to apply specific colors to their tailbooms, wingtips and prop tips. The 27th.FS Used red,(Squadron Codes beginning with HV), the 71st.FS used White (Squadron Codes beginning with LM,)and the 94th.FS used yellow, (Squadron Codes beginning with UN.) When the Group began receiving P-38s in their natural aluminium finish, the 71st.FS changed their color to black. Red spinners were also introduced sometime in 1944. The national insignia was surrounded by a yellow circle during the time of the North Africa invasion. These were then removed and the "star and bar" was added with a red outline for a time in 1943. Thereafter the normal national insignia was used.

With the possibility of war looming on the horizon, 1st Pursuit Group was introduced to a new weapon in July 1941.At that time the 27th Pursuit Squadron received the first Lockheed P-38 Lightnings in the Army Air Force's inventory. The Group would have but six months to acquaint itself with their new mounts when on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked air and naval targets stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, finally drawing the United States into war.
Wanting to cover any possible vulnerabilities on the West coast of the country, the 1st and its assigned squadrons were moved from Selfridge to March Field, California for a short time before deploying for Europe on 25 April 1942. Before they left, however, an alumnus of theirs, Eddie Rickenbacker, made one of his two visits to the Group during World War II. The retired captain listened to the Group’s concerns and reported them to General Henry "Hap" Arnold. Rickenbacker also worked with Arnold to reinstate the hat-in-the ring emblem, absent since Rickenbacker had begun to use it for his automotive manufacturing business, back to the 94th. In May the Group was redesignated the 1st. Fighter Group.
Military strategists of the time deemed Hitler's Germany as a greater threat than Japan, and placed first priority with the war in Europe. As a result, the 1st Fighter Group deployed to England in what was called the "Bolero" mission. During the summer of 1942, the 1st flew training and occasional fighter sweeps over the skies of France until they received the call to move again, this time to North Africa. By 13 November 1942, the Group completed the move to Algeria, where they provided aerial support against German occupied territories. On 29 November 1942, the 94th Fighter Squadron flew the Group's first combat sorties of World War II, strafing a German airfield and recording several aerial victories. For nearly a year, the Group moved throughout Algeria and Tunisia, flying bomber escort and providing air coverage for the ground campaign. Allied forces pushed the Germans back, and the North African campaign ended with the capture of Tunis on 7 May 1943.
Six months of continuous, heavy fighting in North Africa was followed by a short break during which the 1st. flew reconnaissance and escort missions around the Mediterranean. This respite ended on 15 August, as air attacks increased against southern Italy. On 25 August the 1st. launched 65 aircraft, and joined with 85 more, for a historic attack against the Italian Foggia airfield complex. In addition to strafing ground targets, the 1st damaged or destroyed 88 enemy aircraft, with a loss of only two P-38s. For this mission, the group received its first distinguished unit citation (DUC). Five days later, the group participated in a mission which earned them their second DUC. They launched a 44-aircraft formation, escorting B-26 bombers to the railroad marshalling yards at Aversa, Italy. Approximately 75-100 enemy aircraft suddenly attacked the formation. After a 40-minute air battle, outnumbered at least two-to-one, the bombing mission continued and was successful, in fact the bomb group returned to base without a single loss. The Group then moved to several different bases throughout Italy before finally settling down at Salsola Airfield, on 8 January 1944. Living and supply conditions improved for the airmen and new P-38Js arrived in the spring. On 16 April 1944, the group flew its 1,000th combat mission.
The 1st Fighter Group received its third DUC for action on 18 May 1944. That day's target was the oil fields at Ploesti, Romania. The fighters were scheduled to escort 700 bombers; however, bad weather caused many bombers to abort the mission. The fighters continued on through the heavy weather and upon reaching the target, found 140 American bombers were under attack by 80 enemy fighters. The 1st.'s 48 P-38s attacked the German fighters and drove them off, downing and damaged nearly 20 enemy aircraft, with a loss of one P-38, whose pilot parachuted to safety.

The remainder of the war proved less eventful for the Group, as the air war in Italy came to a close. The Group's last major operation of the war came in January 1945. Under Operation "Argonaut," the Group escorted British and American delegations to the Yalta Conference. A total of 61 aircraft deployed in missions escorting the ships and aircraft carrying President Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and their aides to and from the Crimea. On 15 April 1945, the 27th Fighter Squadron, who had earlier scored the Group's first kill of the war, recorded the Group's last kill of the war.
During nearly three years of combat flying, the 1st Fighter Group flew over 21,000 sorties on over 1,400 combat missions. Despite the demobilization of American forces after the war, the 1st Fighter Group remained fairly intact and returned to March Field, California. The group once again made history when it was assigned America's first operational jet fighter, the P-80 "Shooting Star". 

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was one of the most recognizable aircraft of the Second World War because of it's twin boom tails and pod-like cockpit. Known as "der Gabelschwanz Teufel" ("the fork - tailed devil")










Combat - Fighter Units
Parent Unit
Fighter Units
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Last Updated: Dec 10, 2019
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5 Members Also There at Same Time
1st Fighter Group

Baldwin, Robert Percy, Col, (1939-1966) A23 AAF MOS 1056 Major
Agan, Arthur Columbus, Lt Gen, (1937-1970) First Lieutenant
Hatch, Herbert Brooks, 1st Lt, (1942-1945) A23 AAF MOS 1056 First Lieutenant
Stuber, Stanley E., Maj, (1942-1950) A23 AAF MOS 1056 First Lieutenant
Catledge, Richard C., Maj Gen, (1943-1973) Second Lieutenant

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