Virgil Claude Barnette, Chief Master Sergeant, Retired

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Doyline, LA – Virgil Claude Barnette was born August 14, 1929, in Columbia, Louisiana, as the eldest child to Cecil Ray and Bythel Wycliff Barnette. He completed his earthly journey June 20, 2020 at age 90 due to the COVID-19 virus.

He married Katherine Cockerham on November 4, 1950 and was married to her for 62 years until her death in 2013. They had five children: Sheryl Ostendorff (Tom), Richard, Randy, Jennifer Core (Tab), and Amy Rutherford (David).

He has 10 grandchildren: Seth Ostendorff (Lauren), Michael Ostendorff (Amy) all of Shreveport, Louisiana; Hannah Nys (Yvan) of Johannesburg, South Africa, Gabrielle and Ella Core of St. Francisville, Louisiana, Caroline Core of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Nathan and Allie Rutherford of Benton, Louisiana; Harrison Barnette of Wichita, Kansas, and Meredith Darden of Lafayette, Louisiana.

He has 6 great grandchildren: Olivia and Jack Ostendorff, Cecilia and Emilie Anne Ostendorff of Shreveport, Louisiana and Asher and Eden Darden of Lafayette, Louisiana. He is predeceased by his parents, brother Jerry Barnette, sisters Yvonne Russell and Doris Barnette. He is also predeceased by his wife Katherine C. Barnette (2013), sons, Randy (2012) and Richard Barnette (2020). He is survived by his daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren and a host of friends, especially those associated with Barksdale Federal Credit Union and the Air Force.

Mr. Barnette graduated from high school the last year there were 11 grades (1946) and shortly thereafter enlisted in the United States Air Force. He chose the Air Force because the Navy recruiter had gone to lunch. The Air Force got quite a special man when he enlisted. He served two years and was discharged and while on his way home, his parents received a letter stating he had been recalled to active duty (the Korean Conflict), so he went back on active duty and served until 1967 and was honorably discharged.

After he enlisted, he served in a variety of engineering positions-Post Engineer, Air Installations Office, Installation Engineer and Civil Engineer. In the mid-1950’s he participated in the development of SAC Manual 85-2-the original standardized operating procedures for Civil Engineering. He was a co-author of the original draft and participated in the rewrite of AFM/AFR 85-1-the “Bible” for Air Force Civil Engineering. He attended the University of Maryland, enrolled in Business Administration and the University of Colorado.

He was certified as a Senior Engineering Technician by the National Institute for certification of Engineering technicians and promoted a local chapter for the certification of engineering technicians. He started his career as a heavy equipment operator in 1946 and was in the first group of enlisted men to attain the rank of Chief Master Sergeant in 1960. During his active duty career, he served overseas in Iceland, Newfoundland, England and Spain. He also served at both base and headquarters levels. The majority of his active duty was spent at Barksdale Air Force Base.

He worked at the Army Ammunitions plant for one year and then joined the civil service and served 41 years. In total he served his country as a loyal patriot for 61years. In April 1968 he began working as an engineering technician in Civil Service at 2nd Air Force Headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base. In April 1972 he transferred to base level at Barksdale and later that same year received the Strategic Air Command Meritorious Achievement Award for Civil Engineering Civilians. In 1976 he was temporarily transferred to Headquarters AFCOMS to develop and implement the civil engineering functions. In 1994 he received the Air Combat Command Senior Civilian Manager Award for Civil Engineering.

Mr. Barnette participated in the development of the first set of stand Civil Engineering operation procedures for Air Force wide use. He was involved in the development of the first Civil Engineering support manpower requirements for intercontinental ballistic missiles during the early 1960’s. He traveled extensively under General David Jones, who later became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as part of his money management team during the early 1970’s.

Mr. Barnette was appointed as an honorary member of the faculty of the Air Force Institute of Technology for services during a 4-year period in the mid 1970’s and served as a guest lecturer from time to time. He participated in numerous Air Force test programs. He served on the Executive Committee for the development of CEMAS and as a charter member for Project IMAGE, an Air Force wide program for improvement of civil engineering.

When he was nominated for the Civil Engineering Meritorious Achievement Award in 1972the following was said of him,“ Although Mr. Barnette is not a professional engineer, he has demonstrated unique managerial abilities, a high degree of intelligence, and intrinsic ability to communicate his knowledge to others, making him an invaluable asset to the Engineering profession. He possesses an outstanding knowledge of all aspects of Civil Engineering. He is one of the few individuals in the Air Force who has a complete and thorough understanding of all aspects at base level. He is held in high esteem at all levels of command for his singularly significant managerial abilities. He was cited by Major General M. R. Reilly for his outstanding performance as technical advisor, actor and coordinator in the filming of “AFM 85-1, a Better Way”.”

He served as a member of the Bossier City Kiwanis and before his health kept him from attending was a member of First Baptist Church of Bossier City. He was elected to the Barksdale Federal Credit Union Board of Directors in 1975. He served as Chairman of the BFCU from 1978-2018. He served as First Chairman of the Louisiana Credit Union League, which provided education and training for all credit unions in Louisiana. He served on the Louisiana League Legislative Committee dealing with Credit Union political issues at both the State and National level.

During his tenure as Chairman of the Board the BFCU went from 2 to 20 branches throughout North Louisiana. He truly loved his work with all who were and are affiliated with the BFCU. Deep and lasting friendships were formed and he considered them as a second family. He family is deeply appreciative of the love and care these “family” members provided not only for our daddy, but our brother Richard as well.

Mr. Barnette enjoyed fishing and mowing the grass on the 25 acres at his home. He also enjoyed a good “church singing and dinner on the ground”. Although a quiet man by nature and was one to avoid conflict, he could see all sides of an issue and then bring people to a consensus. He was truly a special man.

Services for Mr. Barnette will be held at the Mausoleum at Hillcrest Cemetery July 10,2020 at 11 am. It will be a full military honors service. If you come to honor Mr. Barnette, please wear your mask and keep social distancing rules in mind.

The family would like to thank all of the staff of Hall 100 (especially Rhonda Johnson and nurse Daniel) at the Northwest Veterans Home, the therapists, social workers (especially Laura Gregorio and Rene Belt), the dietary services, the housekeeping and all others for the love and care you provided our daddy these last 2 years.

We would also like to thank the current and past board members of BFCU (thank you for the 90th birthday party last year-he loved it) for all of the love, prayers and care you have provided these past years.

You have fought the good fight and have finished the race. You have kept the faith and there is in store for you the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge will award to you on the day of rejoicing.