Photo courtesy of Gary Clayton Barnes, nephew of Doyle C. Barnes

Ensign Doyle Clayton Barnes, US NAVY

Namesake of USS Doyle C. Barnes DE 353

US Navy Cross Medal

Ensign Barnes was born in Oeniville, Texas, 5 April 1912. At age 21, he enlisted in the US Navy at Houston, Texas, 20 October 1933, and served continuously from that date.

His USN service record shows his rate as Enlisted from 20 Oct 1933 to 19 Oct 1937.  He was elevated to the rank of Officer 20 Oct 1937.

As a Warrant Machinist, he was designated Naval Aviator 21 March 1942, and was commissioned Ensign 25 June 1942, just two months before his death.

As an aviator, his first assignment was with Fighting Squadron Two (VF-2) based on USS LEXINGTON (CV-2). It is known that this fighting squadron aboard LEXINGTON in December 1941 consisted of 16 Brewster F2A-3 Buffalos. There is a probability this is the type plane piloted by Barnes.

Aboard LEXINGTON Barnes was nicknamed "Daddy" by his squadron mates, presumably because he was 30 years old at this time, much older than most other fliers.  Barnes also was nicknamed "Tom".  One of his squadron mates was Tom Cheek.

From 1 April 1942 to 26 April 1942, Barnes and Cheek were detached for temporary additional duty with Fighter Six (VF-6) aboard the carrier USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6), and flew Combat Air Patrol (CAP) to cover the launch from USS HORNET (CV-8) of the historic Doolittle bomber raid on Japan on 18 April 1942.

In late April, Barnes, again with Tom Cheek, was attached for temporary additional duty to USS SARATOGA's Fighting Three (VF-3). The commander of VF-3 was the legendary fighter pilot Lieutenant Commander John S. "Jimmy" Thach. At this time, SARATOGA was still undergoing repairs for torpedo damage received off Hawaii the previous January.

After LEXINGTON was sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea on 8 May 1942, Barnes, Tom Cheek and Jimmy Thach reported aboard USS YORKTOWN (CV-3), 30 May 1942, just before the Battle of Midway began.   (Read the note from Tom Cheek)

YORKTOWN had also been damaged in the Battle of the Coral Sea and many pilots were lost.  Therefore, Barnes and his fellow pilots aboard YORKTOWN were a composite Fighting Three (VF-3) which was itself part of a hastily assembled makeshift Air Group-5 aboard YORKTOWN. The composite Fighting Three assigned to YORKTOWN also included members of that carrier's own fighter squadron VF-42.  Barnes was assigned to fly the F4F-4 "Wildcat", F-17, BuNo 5142 aircraft. 

F4F Wildcat Fighter
F4F Wildcat

Flying off YORKTOWN at the Battle of Midway, Barnes was credited with downing 2 Japanese torpedo planes.  VF-3 had 23 Wildcats involved in the fighting and they probably shot down 21 Japanese planes.  During the battle YORKTOWN was severly damaged and most returning pilots were diverted to USS ENTERPRISE or USS HORNET.

For service in this assignment Barnes was awarded the Navy Cross with the following citation:

"For extraordinary heroism as pilot of an airplane of a Fighting Squadron in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Battle of Midway on 4 June, 1942. Launched from his carrier to intercept an incoming assault by the Japanese torpedo planes, Ensign Barnes faced an attack so fully developed that, by the time he took off from the flight deck, the ship's 5-in guns were already blasting their fire at the attacking enemy craft. Despite a tremendous anti-aircraft barrage from our ships, he pressed home immediate and vigorous counter-attacks against the Japanese force, shooting down two torpedo planes. His aggressive skill and courage, devotion to duty, maintained by great risk against overwhelming odds, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

Following the lost of USS YORKTOWN at Midway, Barnes was assigned to USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6), as part of VF-6,  where he fought in the Invasion of Guadalcanal 7-8 August.  In this action he was credited with downing an enemy plane. The official USN record shows, "...An Enterprise pilot, Machinist D. C. Barnes of Fighting Squadron SIX, shot down a third Japanese observation plane within sighting distance of our force at about the same time.  It was a single-float, single-engine aircraft..."  He was posthumously awarded the Air Medal for his achievement.

Sixteen days later, 24 August, Ensign Barnes engaged the enemy in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.  It was during this battle that Barnes was listed as MIA when his F4F-4 Wildcat was lost in the Pacific.  He was declared officially dead on 25 August, 1942.  He was credited with 3 victories at the time of his death.

Ensign Barnes is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines.


Ensign Barnes was awarded the Purple Heart and Air Medal posthumously. He had the Good Conduct Medal and is entitled to the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp and the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal, and the ribbon for the Presidential Unit Citation awarded USS ENTERPRISE.

Mrs. Doyle C. Barnes, wife of Ensign Barnes sponsored the ship at the launching at Consolidated Steel Corp. Ltd., in Orange, Texas. Although Mrs. Barnes was unable to also attend the commissioning ceremony at Orange on 13 July 1944, the family was represented by Mr. and Mrs. Ross B. Barnes of Belton, Texas, parents of Ensign Barnes.

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Personal Reflections of Tom Cheek

June 4, 1942, began at 0115 for Doyle C. (Tom) Barnes and myself, aboard the aircraft carrier Yorktown, CV-5. We were on temporary additional duty from Fighting Two, Lexington, CV-2, having been ordered to Fighting Three following a brief tour to waters off Tokyo with Fighting Six in Enterprise, CV-6. The room that we shared in Warrant Officers' country was port side, slightly forward of midship, and one deck below the waterline. Although we had climbed into our bunks early the evening before, sleep was restless. The faint vibration of machinery through the hull, the light swish and hissing surge of water past the skin of the ship did little to hurry time past. Asleep, yet not asleep, my mind drifted through the events of the past few days.

The three short days following Yorktown's return to Pearl Harbor, May 27th, from the Coral Sea engagement in which she had been heavily damaged (and we lost Lexington, CV-2), had been busy ones. Pearl Harbor and its NAS Ford Island, as well as NAS Kaneohe on the windward shore of Oahu, in a hush-hush atmosphere, whirred with activity. Rumors! If what you heard failed to catch your interest, wait a moment, there were others in the mill.

While the Yorktown received emergency repairs at the Navy Yard, a new Air Group-5 had been hastily
assembled from pilots, planes and squadrons available in the area. As one wag put it, "It was a collection of all available spare parts!" Said in jest, it was a statement very close to fact. Fighting Three was composed of twenty-four new Grumman F4F-4 "Wildcat" fighters, and twenty-seven pilots. Only the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) John S. "Jimmy" Thach and Ensign (ENS) R. A. M. Dibb, fresh from flight training, were permanent VF-3 pilot personnel. The majority of the pilots, sixteen, were from Yorktown's own fighter squadron VF-42. Six others, with original orders to VF-8 (Hornet), were classmates of ENS Dibb. The remaining three pilots to complete the roster were LCDR Don Lovelace, Tom Barnes and myself. Formerly Thach's Executive Officer (XO), Don Lovelace had been detached from VF-3 with orders to reorganize and command Fighting Two. On being informed of the coming operation, Don had volunteered to return to his old assignment as VF-3's executive officer and rejoined the squadron on the afternoon of May 28.

Composed of Fighting Three (VF-3), Torpedo Three (VT-3), Bombing Three (VB-3), and Scouting Five (VS-5), the makeshift Air Group-5 had landed aboard Yorktown on the afternoon of May 30, 1942. But not without incident. Don Lovelace had been killed instantly when an F4F failed to catch an arresting wire, soared over the crash barrier smashing down on him as his aircraft was being parked.

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[Webmaster Note:  Even though I obtained his USN service records, it is still difficult to piece together the complete service of Ensign Barnes.  I relied upon his service record and other published data to compile his service history.  Any additions or corrections to this information would be appreciated.

It is helpful for the reader to understand that USN pilots were initially assigned to a carrier and one of its squadrons. Later, the pilots were often assigned temporary duty aboard other carriers and made part of that carrier's squadron. This can make it difficult to locate where a pilot was stationed at a specific time.]

Photo 1  |  Photo 2  |  Photo 3  |  Photo 4  |  Doyle C. Barnes

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