Dave Barker was born in San Diego, California and grew up in Orange County. He volunteered for the Marines in 1964 and served with the 7th Engineer Battalion in Vietnam. When he was sent to Vietnam in August 1965, he had no idea where he was going. Everyone on the ship seemed to be thinking, “War? What war?” He remembers getting off the ship and being handed only five rounds of ammunition.
Though he was ready to fight, he says, “I felt I was expendable.”
One of the scariest things about the war was the idea that he could screw up his job well enough to get someone killed. His fear of dying was “further down on the list.” In Vietnam, there was no safe zone. Dave had to look at an eight-year-old with an AK47 as a combatant. “That’s a scary thing because that kid knows how to use it.”
Dave worked as a communicator and often did not know the guys around him. He brought his own firearm and ammunition with him, but he didn’t fire his weapon once. Being part of the Marine Corps, he felt that everyone was risking their lives for everyone else. He served with a sense that “no man is left behind,” and he had a “responsibility to help other Marines.”
The things that helped him get through Vietnam were humor and the idea that he was part of “a bunch of twenty-year-old guys doing the best they could with what they had to offer.”
Dave Barker volunteered for the Marines in February 1964. He was sent to Vietnam during the early big build up of forces there in August 1965, serving with the 7th Engineer Battalion. His unit was then attached to the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Division. Part of Dave’s duties involved sweeping for mines in I Corps near Da Nang.
On July 29, 2015, we filmed our 10th episode of Veterans and Their Stories at MCA-TV in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. On this day, Dave Barker (Marine Corps, Vietnam) and Frank McCormick (Army Air Corps, WWII) joined us to share their stories of serving in the military.
Veterans and Their Stories is a production of Moon Township Community Access Television. The talk show features interviews with veterans from Moon Township and surrounding communities. Veterans and Their Stories is hosted by Moon Township resident Beth Feather, who is also the MCA-TV community producer for this program. This program is co-produced with the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative, in partnership with the Veterans Breakfast Club.
In April 2013, Dave also joined us for our first veterans oral history educational project at Winchester-Thurston School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was part of our effort to work with teachers and students to provide an interesting workshop covering the oral history process, appropriate interview questions, special considerations when interviewing veterans, active listening skills, and oral history ethics.