Lebanon centenarian honored as parade Veteran of the Year

At 100 years old, World War II veteran Waife E. “Bud” Barnes has earned the right to claim he knows the secret to longevity: keep moving, keep doing things, and behave yourself.

Barnes, of Lebanon, also earned the right to be voted as this year’s Veteran of the Year from the Veterans Commemoration Association of the Albany Veterans Day Parade during their annual banquet Nov. 9.

After joining the National Guard when he was 17, Barnes served in the Army during World War II, and joined the Air Force reserves before retiring as a senior master sergeant. 

“They kicked me out when I was 60; they said I was too old, he joked. “I tried to go back in and do another five years, but they wouldn’t let me. There’s no discharge date on my ID card, so I’m still in the Air Force, but after 61 they don’t require much from you.”

Before enlisting in the Army, Barnes worked on the family farm in Coeur D’Alene, and in mines where he developed a cough. When a doctor saw rock dust on his lungs and suspected he was in the beginning stages of tuberculosis, Barnes moved to Alaska and worked a couple of odd jobs there.

Then, he said, he decided he was going to win the war in Europe, so he joined the Army’s Air Force. During training, Barnes found it amusing to short-sheet a sergeant who had ordered him to clean his room, but couldn’t do anything about the bed sheet trick because ordering privates to do personal service was a “no-no,” Barnes said.

“I had lots of fun with that because I’d already been there and I knew the drill,” he said. 

Once in Europe, Barnes headed up a crew that received and issued out munitions, but they also had the task of detonating old munitions from World War I.

“They had nitroglycerin running out of the front of the shells,” he said.

After the war ended, Barnes returned to the family farm and met the love of his life, Mary. The two married and had sons Donald and Gene, and a daughter, Denice. Meanwhile, Barnes remained in the active reserve corps until he retired.

Mary and Bud later landed in Lebanon, where he worked at Champion International in the particle board plant for 27 years. The couple were active volunteers during their life. Bud served in his church, helped establish and maintain local credit unions, served as a Boy Scout troop leader, and was president at Santiam Fish and Game Association.

For more than 20 years, Barnes volunteered at Clear Lake before quitting in 2005 to attend to his wife. He recently received a phone call from a man whom Barnes helped when he was a child at Clear Lake, Barnes said.

During a free fishing day at Clear Lake years ago, Barnes showed the boy how to put a worm on the hook and know when the line reaches the bottom, and the boy never forgot that lesson, he said.

Barnes can’t remember the name of the man who called him and told him the story, but that one memory created decades ago stayed with that boy to this day.

When the VCA committee votes for the veteran of the year, they look at his military record, what he did in the service, and his involvement in the community after he got out, said Al Severson, vice president of the committee.

“For 100 years old, he’s been around the block,” Severson said about Barnes.

He’s known Barnes for a long time, and finds him to be a gentleman and a scholar, he said.

“You couldn’t ask for a nicer guy,” he said. “He’s the type of man we like to honor.”

Barnes was nominated by Ray Johnson of the American Legion Santiam Post 51.

Several other veterans were voted as 2018 Distinguished Veterans this year. Lebanon veterans who made that list include: Stephen Dahrens, nominated by Larry Williams; Westley Whiting, nominated by Mary Blanshan; Jim Willis, nominated by Randy Martinak; Carl Frank, nominated by David Stahl; and Fred Schafer, nominated by Leslie Lewis.