Luther Samuel Barbee
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Parents, Titus & Nellie Barbee
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8/2/1943 – 8/29/1946
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Luther Barbee was the son of Titus and Nelia Barbee of Stanly County, North Carolina. As a youth, Luther helped out on the family farm located in Big Lick, just outside the town of Oakboro.
As his eighteenth birthday approached, Luther did his civic duty and registered for the draft in Oakboro. Rather than wait to be called, he joined the Marine Corps the following year, and was sent to Parris Island for boot camp.
Following Parris Island, Private Barbee was assigned to guard duty at the Naval Air Station at Cherry Point, North Carolina.
Although he was comparatively close to home, Barbee couldn’t handle being so far from his small town. He went AWOL on January 23, 1944, only to be apprehended at the end of February. He broke arrest on March 8 and struck out for home, traveling nearly 240 miles on his own. The homecoming was not as pleasant as he might have liked – on March 20, Barbee was shot in the right foot, suffering a fractured toe. His foot was in bad shape when the MPs picked him up in Oakboro on April 5, so Barbee was confined to Cherry Point’s sick bay under guard until he could stand trial for his absenteeism. He was found guilty by a general court-martial on April 26, and sentenced to two years in Portsmouth Naval Prison.
Fortunately, Luther Barbee only served a portion of his sentence. He was granted clemency in January 1945 and allowed to return to active duty, with the stern warning that he was on 12 months probation – any further disciplinary action would result in his confinement until a bad conduct discharge. Barbee had no further infractions for the remainder of his service, which saw him re-training at Camp Lejeune before joining Company A, 24th Marines as a replacement BAR gunner in the summer of 1945. The war ended before Barbee saw any combat; he spent the next year with the 17th Service Command before being “discharged under honorable conditions” from Camp Lejeune on August 29, 1946.
Luther Barbee returned to Stanly County after the war; he died in Albemarle in 2000 and is buried in the town’s Stanly Gardens of Memory cemetery.