Four generations of Bardens visit World War II Memorial

John Christensen The Chronicle-Express
Four generations of Bardens visited the WWII Memorial in Washington DC. In front from left: Marcus Whitman teacher Tom Barden, WWII Veteran Kenneth Barden, George Barden, Gerald Barden, Tommy Barden, and Peter Barden.

Four generations of the Barden family of Penn Yan visited the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. for the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Okinawa in April.

Kenneth Barden served in the war as a resident of Penn Yan, and in April, Barden took an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. from his current home in Vallejo, Calif. to see the World War II and other memorials just as most of Penn Yan’s other surviving vets have done. He was joined in Washington by his younger brother, Gerald, who worked on his family farm in Benton throughout the duration of the war in support the troops through their farm supplies.

Kenneth Barden served with the Ernie Pyle, the WWII photographer and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, during the Battle of Okinawa.

Kenneth was a young Ensign aboard the USS Charles Carroll, part of the fleet for the invasion, and commanded a Higgins Boat that carried Marines to the beach.

In the Times-Herald of Vallejo, Calif., Kenneth said, “Ernie Pyle actually rode in my landing craft part of the way into the beach on that invasion day. On 26 March, 1945, we were at a tiny atoll south of Okinawa, forming up into a huge convoy for the invasion. Anchored, I was junior officer of the deck on the quarter deck, when a boat pulled up alongside. Clambering aboard came a tiny, wizened, jockey-sized man. It was Ernie Pyle, who had come aboard for the invasion.”

Barden recalled that day. “It was cold, bitter and choppy that day and we were all like drowned rats,” he said. “We were also sitting ducks, but, fortunately for us, the Japanese general decided not to contest the landing and decided to take us on inland.”

Kenneth survived the battle unhurt, but Pyle was killed by Japanese sniper fire April 18, 1945 on Iejima near Okinawa.