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As a young man, Carl M. Barnes just wanted to get out of Wilson and see the world.
The Navy was his ticket.
A 1980 graduate of Beddingfield High School, Cmdr. Carl M. Barnes’ July 1 retirement was celebrated at an April 26 ceremony in his honor at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington.
Barnes spent half his career as an enlisted man and the other half as an officer.
“I didn’t want to do factory work. I wanted to get out of Wilson,” Barnes said in a visit with U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield at his Wilson office earlier this month. “Our roads were dirt roads at this time. I was hungry for more in life. I had always dreamed of seeing the world, and the Navy provided me an opportunity to see the whole world and live overseas and get an education.”
Barnes, son of James and Minnie Barnes of Stantonsburg, enlisted in 1983.
“My father did not want me to go into the Navy. He wanted me to stay in college. I was at Georgetown for a semester, but I was not focused enough to be in college,” Barnes said. “I went to the Naval recruiting district office three times. I was able to get in on the seaman recruit program as a deck seaman, at the bottom, scraping and painting.”
Barnes enlisted as a seaman recruit in 1983.
Barnes begged the recruiter to “just let me in the door.”
“My first ship is the USS Paul (FF 1080) out of Mayport, Florida. I have ridden amphibs. I have been on LSTs, LPDs, several carriers,”
The carriers included the George Washington, the Theodore Roosevelt and the Ronald Reagan.
“I was the command chaplain of all three of those when they did home port shifts,” Barnes said.
Barnes earned a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University in workforce education development.
“Uncle Sam has paid for four of my five degrees,” Barnes said. “I have my first master’s in education. It’s called teaching English to speakers of other languages from Alliant University. I have a master’s of divinity from Bethel Theological Seminary. I have a master’s of psychology and counseling from Troy University and a doctorate of ministry with emphasis on leadership and preaching from Troy Seminary.”
“I have been on a lot of ships. I have been to Europe twice,” Barnes said. “I have been to South America. I have lived in Japan. I have lived in Hawaii. I have been all over the world.”
Barnes wore the uniform of the U.S. Navy, the Marines and the Coast Guard while serving as a Navy chaplain.
His last duty was as a chaplain for wounded warriors.
Barnes resides in Memphis, Tennessee, but would like to work in mentoring in Wilson.
“I know that God has another purpose for me for my second career to give back for what was given to me,” Barnes told Butterfield.
“That’s a powerful story. We need you here full-time,” Butterfield told Barnes. “Whatever I can do to help you facilitate your goals, I would be glad to do it.”