William S. Barney
Colonel, United States Army
a contemporary press report:
Colonel (Ret) William S. Barney 1917-2000) and his wife, Betty, perished in a fire that ravaged their home in Rockville, Maryland, in the early morning hours of February 3, 2000.
Colonel Bill Barney was well known throughout
the meteorological community for his work in the Air Weather Service, the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Office of the
Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research.
Colonel “Bill” Barney was a legend and a leader — and his accomplishments
were numerous. (Ed. Excerpts for this necrology were taken from AWS
files and various obituaries. Thanks to Lillian Nolan and Loraine Becker
of the AFWA History Office and Bob Dumont at OFCM.) The following article
appeared in the Headquarters, Air Weather Service Observer in October 1967.
Cott Air Force Base, Illinois, October 10, 1967
An Air Force weatherman who held every rank from Private to Colonel retired recently at this base where he began his military career 30 years ago.
Colonel William S. Barney, a member of AWS
since it began in 1937, received the Legion of Merit from Brigadier General
Russell K. Pierce, Jr., AWS commander. General Pierce praised Colonel
Barney’s numerous contributions to military weather support. The Legion
of Merit recognized Colonel Barney’s effort in the
The Colonel’s Legion of Merit covered the period from May 1, 1963, to May 31, 1967, when he was AWS Vice Commander. He was 1st Weather Wing commander in the Pacific from 1961 to 1963. Prior to that, he held posts throughout AWS, dating to 1937, when he began as a weather observer.
His accomplishments include work to rehabilitate the Italian military weather service and the civilian weather services of Germany and Japan. He established the ocean vessel station program for the Japanese government and prepared the first tidal wave warning plan for the pacific.
More recently, Colonel Barney chaired a joint steering committee concerned with developing a capability to observe and predict the aerospace environment. AWS’s Solar Observing and Forecasting Network (SOFNET), which monitors and forecasts radiation resulting from solar disturbances, was designed by the Colonel through the joint committee.
Largely as a result of the veteran weatherman’s efforts, AWS is receiving weather data at Air Force Global Weather Central, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, from Europe and the Far East at a rate of 3,000 words per minute versus 100 words per minute in the recent past. This is the new Automated Weather Network.
Colonel Barney also has played a role in the
Vietnam conflict. Following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, he
made an accurate estimate of the situation and planned and deployed a weather-support
organization to Southeast Asia. The force was designed to support
not only the situation at that time, but the rapid growth of
Born in Bernie, Missouri, on July 3, 1917,
Colonel Barney is a 1933 graduate of Parma High School. (In his youth,
he played professional baseball.) He enlisted in the Army in 1937
and was assigned to Scott Field after his initial military training. He
trained as a weatherman and navigator and in 1945 compiled 2 combat hours
Colonel Barney was commissioned from the field as a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry. He won a regular commission in field artillery and transferred to the Army Air Corps. He has held all grades, both temporary and regular, from private to colonel. This includes six specialist ratings, the two air mechanic ratings and regular Warrant Officer Observer,
Colonel Barney also commanded the 6th Weather Squadron (Mobile) in Oklahoma and later as Federal Coordinator, he expedited the use of the USAF Mobile Squadron in the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant incident. He also commanded the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, commanded the reconnaissance forces for atomic tests in 1948 and the Test Service Unit for the first hydrogen bomb tests in 1952 and 1956. He also commanded the 9th Weather Group at Andrews AFB, MD and moved it to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, in 1957. He helped plan its reorganization and at the end of his tour, the unit was redesignated as the 9th Weather Reconnaissance Group supervising all AWS reconnaissance squadrons. It later was redesignated the 9th Weather Reconnaissance Wing.
After being the assistant director of BOMEX,
he served as Logistics Manager for the Man in Sea project, Project Manager
for the International Field Year for the Great Lakes, U.S. Field Director
for Meteorological and Hydrological Services, and Director of the Special
Projects office for NOAA. He directed the project for the Modernization
of the Iranian Civil and Military Meteorological Services and served in
a similar capacity for the Government of Saudi Arabia. He was also
Chairman of the Interdepartmental Board of the Departments of Commerce
and Defense. In 1981, he became The Federal Coordinator for Meteorological
Colonel Barney was awarded the Department of
Commerce Gold Medal, the USAF Legion of Merit, and 14 others including
the Army, Navy, and Air Force commendation medals. In addition, he
received two flying safety awards and four consecutive Military Airlift
command outstanding awards for flying safety. As a pilot
During Colonel Barney’s retirement, he continued to study military history and the effects of weather service as a military force enhancer. He was called upon numerous times for advice on philosophy and strategy for meteorological services and supporting research — both national and international. He was an avid reader and student of the Bible. He enjoyed attending many Civil War reenactments with his friends and until his death, he continued to run three miles a day with his German Shepherd dog Sable Lee (found in the fire, but resuscitated).
John Fuller in his Thor’s Legions wrote: Colonel
Bill Barney became one of the finest and most respected leaders ever developed
in AWS. With little formal schooling beyond high school, self-educated
Barney (he was a history buff and read and memorized passages from the
classics) was at once Missouri homespun and
Interment service was held at Fort Myer Chapel,
Arlington National Cemetery, on Thursday, Feb 24, 2000 with full military
honors. Colonel and Mrs. Barney were survived by their children:
Robert S. Barney (wife, Janice), Eleanor Sherfield (husband, Floyd), James
Scott Barney (wife, Susan), and Mary Barney Haines
Legion of Merit and an album were presented to Colonel William S. Barney
(on right) by Brigadier General Russell K. Pierce, Jr., Air Weather Service
(AWS) commander. Colonel Barney, who retired at the end of September1967
after 30 years’ service, was cited for his contributions to the weather
service as AWS Vice Commander.
Posted: 18 May 2002