On Tuesday, October 4, 2010, my wife and I were about to leave for my annual Vietnam reunion.  I decided that I should check my email before leaving home.  When I opened Outlook the first thing I saw was an email with a subject line of: Bobby Barker.  You can see my story about Bobby Barker in the article entitled My Memories of Fire Support Base Illingworth.   I printed the email and placed it on the back seat of our car. After we got started, I asked my wife to read the email to me.  We cried when we learned that Bobby’s mother had died just a few days before.  I have since learned that Bobby was buried in Talladega, AL and that his mother lived in Talladega, and his aunt Mary Watts also lives in Talladega.  Mary called me on yesterday, October 12, 2010.  We talked for close to an hour.  As a result of this contact and subsequent communication, we will be having a memorial service at Bobby’s grave site sometime during the coming year.  For forty years I had wanted to talk to some of Bobby’s family members.  This is a very good result that came about as a result of this website.  I have included here the original email that started this process.  Read the letter and be aware that there are many people who are still looking for answers. The only way to give closure is to communicate.  We must locate people before we can communicate. 


Dear Mr. Randall Richards,

I was baffled to stumble upon your webpage.  Bobby Lee Barker was my mother’s cousin.  She was 5 years old when he passed away, but his memory will never be forgotten.  Bobby lived with my mother and grandparents for some time before the war.  My mother has all of the certificates, telegrams, photos etc. from the war including the flag on his casket and his Purple Heart and other various medals. 

On Tuesday September 25, 2010 Bobby’s mother passed away.  She was 85 years old.  That night I randomly typed his name into Google and stumbled upon your article.  We live in Chicago, however, Bobby’s mother and my grandmother live in Talladega, Alabama.  After the funeral on Friday I shared your article with my mother and grandmother.  They were extremely moved. They would have never imagined they would be hearing the details of the last day of Bobby’s life some 40 years later.  The part where Bobby mentions making his Momma proud gave us all goose bumps.  My grandmother asked me if I had a way of contacting you and I told her that your e-mail was provided.  She does not have the internet or a computer so I told her that I would contact you.  She is writing a letter to you, however, over the years it has been difficult for her to write so she will be typing it on her typewriter.  I told her that you had no physical address provided so that I would re-type the letter and e-mail it to you.  The night she read your story she did not sleep.  The next morning she told me she stayed up all night thinking about Bobby.  She cannot believe she actually has the opportunity to contact you.  She told me it may take her a while.  I think she has a lot to say.  She told me yesterday she has already written a page.  I do not know how long it will take her but expect to hear from her soon.  I have attached a photo she has of Bobby.  If you would like I could probably attach others when she sends me the letter.

Thank you for sharing your stories.  My family has been truly touched by them.

Brandice O’Donnell

P.S. Just in case you were wondering my grandmother’s name is Mary Watts and my mother’s name is Crystal.  Bobby’s mother’s name was Thelma Barker.

A side note from Randall: 

            Slim Eubanks from Arab, AL is looking for anyone who knows a man named Fleshner who was wounded on LZ Ike on September 9, 1969.  Fleshner was wounded, laying on his face, not breathing.  Slim was carrying a man to the med station and saw Fleshner laying there and said, “I just couldn’t stand the thought of him dying with his face buried in the mud.  Slim reached down and rolled the Fleshner over and Fleshner took a deep breath of air. Slim saw the Fleshner had a nasty wound on his side. When Slim came back by the location, Fleshner was gone.  Slim would love to know if Fleshner made it home.  If you know Fleshner please put a comment on here and I will pass it on to slim.

            This past week while at my Vietnam reunion, I had a conversation with a man at Mack’s Bar-B-Q named Ray Elston.  Ray’s dad, William E. Elston (Bill) served with the 1st Cav. during the mid sixties.  Ray would love to talk with anyone who knew his dad.  If you knew Bill Elston please comment  and I will contact Ray and give him your contact information.






Posted by Randall at 10/13/2010 1:18 PM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.