Apshawa Volunteer Fire Company – New Jersey
Date of Death: March 9‚ 2008
Service to his country and his community and love of his family – that was Ray Barrett’s life.
When he was 18‚ he entered the Army and served in Vietnam. The word hero was appropriate for the young 19-year-old who earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Helping and serving were not things you talked about with Ray. It was what a man did that mattered to him.
When Ray returned from Vietnam‚ he married his high school sweetheart‚ Elaine. They settled in West Milford‚ New Jersey. Ray and Elaine were blessed with two sons and‚ at the time of his death‚ were close to celebrating their forty-second wedding anniversary.
In 1977‚ Ray joined the Apshawa Volunteer Fire Company and quickly established himself as a man that could always be counted on to do his duty. If a piece of apparatus needed fixing‚ Ray fixed it! That did not only apply to machines; it was true of people as well. If anyone in the company had a problem‚ Ray was there to offer his wisdom. But his wisdom came with a price; Uncle Ray expected you to work hard to solve your problem and do your duty.
Ray served the citizens of West Milford for over 31 years. He held every firematic line officer’s position including chief. Ray always had the respect of the other firefighters‚ since he never asked anyone to perform a task that he wouldn’t‚ couldn’t‚ or hadn’t – at one point or another – done himself. He’d earned the life medals of respect and honor‚ and he also respected his fellow firefighters.
Ray’s sons‚ Wayne and Tim‚ have followed in their father’s footsteps. Tim is a Tech Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force with over 15 years of service. Wayne is a 21 – year veteran of the Apshawa Volunteer Fire Company‚ and Tim is a member on military leave. They learned from the wisdom of their father. Today when they have a problem or a decision to make‚ they think‚ ‘What would Dad do?’
On Sunday‚ March 9‚ 2008‚ when the call came in‚ Ray responded‚ never expecting it was his last call. He got on the engine with Wayne and two other firefighters and was with the first units that entered the structure. After the fire was extinguished‚ Ray suffered a fatal heart attack.
He knew the terror of war and survived. He loved his family‚ and had a twinkle in his eyes whenever he saw his granddaughter‚ Sarah.
Though Ex-Chief Barrett is not here‚ he is with every person that ever knew him.