Advertisement

Honoring a legacy of service to community and country [Eagle Archives]

Honoring a legacy of service to community and country [Eagle Archives]
Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry Barnes served as a sergeant with the Special Forces in Vietnam. One of his assignments was working as an advisor with 12 Montagnard fighters of the Civilian Irregular Defense Group at a radio relay site, in Kon Tum Province, on the Ho Chi Minh trail near Laos. (Photo from Kevin Dayhoff)

It was an eerie juxtaposition in Westminster on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Participants were making their final preparations for marching in the annual Westminster Christmas parade — "Miracle on Main Street." But word spread quickly through the tight-knit community of law enforcement, public officials and old main-line Carroll County families that Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry Barnes had died.

Later, as the parade began, Capt. Richard L. Hart Jr., of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, released a statement: "at approximately 10:30 a.m., Carroll County Sheriff's Deputies responded to … a report of an attempted suicide. Upon the Deputy's arrival, EMS personnel were providing aid to a male who was suffering from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The man was transported to the Carroll Hospital Center where he was pronounced dead."

Advertisement

The man was identified as Jerry Francis Barnes, the Carroll County State's Attorney, a Vietnam veteran, and a good friend.

In 1968, Barnes, a 1966 Westminster High School graduate, chose to forego an available draft deferment and join the Army. According to a biographical sketch written by a former county newspaper reporter, former state delegate for Carroll County and his former wife, Carmen Amedori, Barnes joined a number of men from Carroll County "on a school bus at the (Westminster) Post Office downtown," and headed to Fort Holabird in Baltimore and then promptly to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Barnes began his Special Forces training in January, 1969. He was sent to Vietnam and served with the 5th Special Forces Group for a year beginning Sept. 16, 1969. Much of his tour was spent in Kon Tum Province on the border with Laos, patrolling the Ho Chi Minh Trail. He was twice awarded the Bronze Star.

After his honorable discharge in June 1971, he utilized the GI Bill. He graduated from the University of Baltimore and then from the University of Baltimore Law School in June 1977.

In an article published in November 2007, Barnes reminisced, "I actually started as an intern with the Carroll County State's Attorney's Office in 1976…"

With the exception of four years of service with the Frederick County State's Attorney's office, Barnes has been with Carroll County State's Attorney's Office since 1976.

He served as an Assistant State's Attorney in Carroll until he was elected as Carroll County State's Attorney in November, 1994. Since then, citizens had returned him to that office in every election. That is, until the primary election this past June at a time when the voters choose not to return many incumbents to office.

At the time of his death, Barnes had only one month remaining in his fifth term as state's attorney.

And so, when Carroll County residents should be celebrating the holidays — and looking forward to the new beginnings that accompany newly-elected public officials taking their oath of office — we are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our good friend, a life-long public servant, Jerry Barnes.

Advertisement
Advertisement