KADENA Air Base, Japan (Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer) – From a small special operations community a large group of people gathered to honor one man’s life.
A memorial service was held Nov. 25 at Kadena Air Base for Tech. Sgt. Sean Barton, a pararescueman assigned to the 320th Special Tactics Squadron who died Oct. 30 from injuries sustained after a rappelling incident during a joint exercise training event near Kathmandu, Nepal.
During the service, leadership, teammates and friends shared memories from their time spent with Barton. Smiles and tears were shared as they told stories of a man they nicknamed “Chief.”
“Sean was the type of man who always wanted to make things better,” said Staff Sgt. Eric Braddock, a 320th STS pararescueman who spoke of Barton’s drive to implement change. “I can promise you one thing that’s not going to change, and that is our team’s respect for Sean as a leader, a teammate, a friend.”
Each teammate highlighted Barton’s personality and character. They remembered him not only as a PJ but also a brother, a son and a husband.
“He loved his mom, and he wasn’t embarrassed to admit that he was a momma’s boy,” said Tech. Sgt. Mark Bunnell, a 320th STS pararescueman and Barton’s flight chief. “He loved and supported his wife and lived his life with a passion.”
After the presentation of Barton’s meritorious service medal to his mother, Chief Master Sgt. Michael Stockdale, the 320th STS chief enlisted manager, conducted a roll call before the firing party conducted a three volley salute and a bugler played Taps.
While each member gave Barton one final salute, members from the special tactics and rescue community also removed their beret flash to pound into a plaque as a sign of respect for a man who they will not easily forget.
“When I think of Sean, I will remember him grinning, making a little trouble and living in 29 years what most men don’t live in a lifetime,” said Bunnell. “He will always be a PJ, my brother, and I will carry him with me for the rest of my life.”
Barton served 11 years in the Air Force and deployed multiple times in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Unified Protector. In addition to these deployments, Barton completed assignments at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Pope Air Force Base, N.C., Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., and Kadena Air Base, Japan. Barton earned one Meritorious Service Medal, seven Air Medals, one Air Achievement Medal, two Air Force Commendation Medals, one Air Force Achievement Medal and one Army Achievement Medal.