Navy Days – Barin Field and NAS Pensacola

Barin Field, Foley Alabama

Barracks at Barin Field, Foley, Alabama – 1958

Barin Field, Foley Alabama

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74 Responses to Barin Field, Foley Alabama

  1. Logan MacDowell says:

    We live near Barin Field and were poking around the area recently. The area immediately north of where the four hangars were located appears to have been the site of development in the past — paved streets, curbs, sidewalks, and remains of concrete foundations.
    Was there Navy housing there during WW2 (Barracks, etc) ? We have tried to find pictures but have been unsuccessful — do you know where pictures might be seen ? We would also be interested to know the extent of any development that might have been there.
    Thanking you in advance —

    Logan MacDowell

    • Roger Graves says:

      Regarding the housing at Barin Field, yes for enlisted men there were typical two story open barracks with double bunkerbeds and lockers. These barracks would hold around 200 men. At the time I was there in 1958 there were approximately 1500 men stationed at Barin. It was an Auxilliary Air Station serving the flight training in Pensacola. Thanks for looking and your comment.

    • Tom Hurt Jr. says:

      I happened upon your website searching for written and pictorial history of Barin Field. I noticed, in one of your postings, you were there in 1958. My father and his brother were there in 1958 as well. My father was Tom Hurt and his brothers name is Dwight. Can you direct me to any enlisted rosters, photos of Barin Field and the enlisted personnel for that time period?

      • James Larson says:

        I have the 1958 Barin Field year book, but can’t find anyone named Hurt. I was one of the last ones at the base and was moving things to Pensacola. Before closing there was about 1500 including civilians working there. If you can’t find a copy of this I would loan you mine. Jim call 906 988 2301

        • Don Wetzel says:

          Jim, I will be willing to pay for copies, my phone is 601-506-6128. Leave message if I don’t answer. Thanks.

          • Robert McCoy says:

            I inherited the Barracks buildings after my fathers death in 1989, one half of an original barracks still stands, The picure actually looks like the front of the one still standing. concrete floors on top and bottome floors and creosote wood has withstood mother nature. If you are interested in coming over to visit the site let me know..

  2. ARTHUR L. PALMER says:


  3. Art French says:

    I was there from May 1952 until discharged in April 1953….I was an Aerographers Mate AG 2….Many fatalities they were flying F- 8’s which I think was too much for cadets Trainees from other countries there as well Gulf Shores had one small bar and a few houses on the beach I had good memories of the Field and area I went on to Penn State Univ on Gi Bill and eventually became Sr VP Emery Air Freight Corp.
    Am 81 now …I was at NAS Trinidad and on USS Midway CV 41 during Korean War.

    • Roger Graves says:

      Nice to hear from you. I was just an Airman AG Sticker while at Barin, but later in my four year Navy Tour rose to AG2 as well. Thoroughly enjoyed my Navy time and nearly shipped over, but changed my mind at the last minute. I later entered Law Enforcement and became Police Chief. I enjoyed that career as well. Regarding bloody Barin, that name stuck with the base after you left and I watched a young German student crash and burn into the woods just south of the runways. There were numerous other fatal crashes I didn’t witness.
      Thanks for your comments.

      • Delbert Ball says:

        I was stationed at barin field from 1956 to 1958, that was a good place to be at that time. Foley was a one horse town small and gulf shores beaches were wide open then. The Hang out was at the beach about the only thing there. I came down here from Dayton ohio, married a Mobile girl and been here for ever.. went on USS Randouph air craft carrier in 1958 for 2 years then back to Mobile AL….

        • Don Wetzel says:

          A little in common Delbert. I was at Barin in the crash crew at that time also, came from Arcanum Ohio, about 28 miles NW of Dayton, married a girl from Atmore Al. Now live in Jackson Ms. Plan on being in Foley on the 2nd and 3rd of Nov. then on to Pensacola Beach. Meet me for a drink at the Elberta VFW. It is a very friendly and nice place.

          • Ed Keenan says:

            Good day friends. My Dad, (Harry) was stationed at Barin, sometime 1943 and 1945. He was an AMM, and made 2nd class there I believe. He was on a check crew, working on Navy SNJs. He’s gone now, but he ended up living in Gulf Shores. He had a lot of good memories from Barin.

    • Jerry Peason says:

      My brother-in-law Bill Butler loss his life on a crash truck late 1953.

  4. Don Wetzel says:

    In the Crash Crew from 1956 till 1958 the went aboard the USS Wasp. Loved Barin and Magnolia Springs.

  5. Norman Thomas says:

    I was in the US Marine Corps from 1945-1949. I went on maneuvers out of Cherry Point, NC, in 1948 to Barin Field, Alabama. I was in telephone communications and practiced installing telephone lines on the base. On one practice I was about 35 feet up a pole, stringing line, when the wire that was unwinding from a truck got caught. Instead of coming off the reel it jerked the wire, and a rotten pin holding the insulator broke causing a live wire carrying 480 volts swung into me. When my hand hit the line, my other hand instinctively went to the ground wire and I became a perfect conductor. I managed to unhook my belt, drop the wires and drop to the ground, landing on my back. I remember my vision slowly narrowing as I fell. The impact must have woke me up because I remember seeing my heart beating through my shirt. I conquered my fear by climbing the next pole after I got my breath. I am lucky to be alive but I still am and will be 87 my next birthday.

  6. pete rigotti says:

    I was there from 1957 to its closure. I worker in the tire shop. ( where I learned
    to play Hearts )Good times there. Loved liberty in Mobile AL. My first love!

    • Roger Graves says:

      I was at Barin during the same time. I’m not sure where the tire shop was located, but I was in the Weather Service, which was part of the Aviation Operations Division. The weather office was on the second floor of the hanger that the control tower was part of. Thanks for your interest.

  7. Don Wetzel says:

    Anyone have an idea how many we had on base in the mid 50’s before it closed?

  8. Roger Graves says:

    I was there when the base was decommissioned in 58′ and transferred to Pensacola. At that tune there were around 1500 Naval Personnel. Not sure on the civilians.

  9. H. J. "Bo" Bollinger says:

    I was stationed at Barin field from February 1958 until it closed. I was on the working end of the shovel that buried the base name plate at the end. It was the ideal base to be stationed on and was sorry to see it close. I ended up at Saufley field and commuted to Brunson field to work. We had a line of T28’s that were use for training students in touch and go landings. Transferred to Barbers Point, Hawaii to the AEW squadron in March 1960. Enjoyed that also. Great to find and read these coments.

    • Roger Graves says:

      It appears you and I were at Barin at the same time. I too was part of the decommissioning crew, then transferred over to Mainside at Pennsacola. Enjoyed duty at both air bases, then on to sea duty for two years.

      • H. J. "Bo" Bollinger says:

        I came straight out of “A” school up in Millington, Tn. I put in for sea duty also but since I was an AMS I could have only served on a carrier and that didn’t come thru so my sea duty was Hawaii. Wasn’t to tough out there. Even spent 62 days on Temp. duty out on Midway Island. Again thanks for putting this together. Oh I live in Seattle since I got out. Spent 35 1/2 years in law enforcement and retired in 1999.

        • Roger Graves says:

          Coincidently, I too entered law enforcement spending 33 years in the career. After retirement I spent an additional 8 years as a District Court Magistrate. I enjoyed both careers with no regrets.

  10. Don Wetzel says:

    Any one know where I could purchase a patch that says “Airedale” or a cap that says “US NAVY AIREDALE” ?

  11. Don Wetzel says:

    Anyone interested in a reunion of Barin Field please contact me. I plan on putting one together next year. Would be nice if it were at Foley but we can have it anywhere and anytime of the year. Don Wetzel, phone is 601-506-6128 or email me at

    • Robert McCoy says:

      I inherited the property from my father retired Navy that the barracks were located one half of an original still stands, and I also own the hospital lot. let me know if anyone is interested in visiting the sites.,

  12. Ray Gill says:

    I was stationed at NAAS Saufley with VT-5 from 1966-1968. We used Barin on a daily basis for carrier landing training with T-28s. Good memories of those days.

    • HM3 Hartsfield says:

      I need information regarding fatal T-28 crash at Bain Field, in Foley, Alabama in the winter of 1966. Do you recall that crash at all? ANy info would be greatly appreciated.

      • Ernie Howell says:

        I witnessed the aftermath of a T-28 crash in a housing area in Foley where the pilot missed the houses by aprox 50 yards. The people who actually saw it said that it looked like the pilot was close to a stall and at the last minute spun in to miss the houses. I got there within 10 mins after it happened. The pilots’ name was printed in the local newspaper and I have forgotten what it was. If I heard the name I would remember it. The crash happened aprox between 1960 & 1963. I hope this helps you.
        Ernie Howell

  13. Dave Tyson says:

    I was stationed at Saufley in VT-5 from 1969 -71 as an AE3 and traveled to Barin daily, drove the bus until I got my bus licence pulled for speeding through Elberta. We flew T-28C’s. Lots of good times then. Retired from the USN in 1991 as an AECS.

    • Dennis Mann says:


      Sounds like you and I were at Barin Field (via Saufley Field) about the same time (1968-1970). I also drove the bus and trucks along with AMH work and plane capt. work on T-28s. It was interesting; some fun, but a lot of hard hot and cold work. The USS Lexington was the ship that the student pilots landed on. I remember some of our fun was freezing rattle snakes with CO2 bottles and killing rates at the dump with flare guns. We also designed and had Barin Beast patche made up. Had some good times at the Hangout at Gulfshores and climbing the old Spanish Forts. I live around Louisville Kentucky, but have made it back to the old place a few times.

      All the best,

  14. Garrett Tirpak says:

    1977 was going through flight training at VT3 NAS Whiting Fld. We used OLF Barin for pattern work. The east complex had 3 runways (now 2) and the west complex was closed. The original buildings/hangars were gone.

  15. Bob Hall says:

    Was at Barin from 1955 to 1957 then went aboard the Wasp CVS18 in VS-33.
    Worked the control tower on East Field and sometimes activated the tower on West Field. Worked and lived at the only bar on the beach, the Sandbar at Gulf Shores. Still have pictures of the ramp and hangers filled with SNJ’s. Had just started getting the “Maytags” (T-28s), so named because they sounded like washing machines. Can’t count the number of crashes I saw and one I was almost in.
    Might be interested in your reunion.
    Bob Hall

  16. Rex E Shaner says:

    I was also ther in 58 . Remember a lot of the stuff all you mates were talking about.
    plan on going out to the old base in may. uss fdr reuion is in mobile in may
    I also be interested in a reunion

  17. jrsmith says:

    I was at Barin Field 1943, responsible for the Skipper Ship, on the
    finger line I think he was Capt. Dewolf 4 hour Watch, 4hr night flying
    regular duty and 4th day liberty and lots of fun.

  18. Don Wetzel says:

    Rex Shaner and myself are planning a Barin Field Reunion for the last week in October this year. Exact date and Motel not yet set. We are going to meet in Foley in May and then have all the details. In the meantime anyone interested in attending I would like to know as to plan for the Motel, the more the better rate we will have. Just drop me a line on email even if your just a little interested. Lets have a good crowd and fun. Rex and I have some ideas in plan.

    • Jonathan A McCoy says:,
      My siblings & I own the barracks property. The eastern end of the south barracks is still standing, although it is in poor shape. If you would like, when you have your reunion & would like to come by & talk and look around just let me know by email or write to me AT PO Box 2133, Foley, AL 36536. Much thanks & respect for your service for our country

    • Jean Taylor says:

      My dad, Ray keith was satiationed at baron field during the 2nd war, he is now 93 yrs old, was a mechanic on airplanes, my sister and I were born during that time, he will be dere in Foley for the winter. He would love to be included in the get together

  19. John J. Prewitt says:

    After boot camp at Camp Peary, Williamsburg, VA I attended the five week Ammo Handling School on base – not my choice. (There was a sizable number of German POWs on base then.) After Ammo School, I was assigned to the NavBks, NAD Earl, NJ from 5-12-46 to 6-7-46. I knew Ammo Handling was not for me. I saw a notice on NAD Earl bulletin board requesting volunteers for NAS Pensacola – I immediately volunteered. I spent about a month at NAS Pensacola, assigned to the Clothing Sales Store. I was then assigned to the Clothing Sales Store at Barin Field, AL from 6-14-46 until 3-31-47, when I was selected for assignment aboard the USS Neches (AO-47), then dry docked at T.I. San Pedro, CA.

    My late wife (from Red Bay, AL) and I visited what was left of Barin Field in 1992. We met a very nice Navy Fireman who graciously escorted us to the area where the barracks had been located – nothing left but some chimneys, a once beautiful pool, filled with debris, and the remains of a few concrete foundations in the area then covered with pine trees.

    Re: Barin Field Reunion – I would like to attend, but I already have reservations for Hawaii beginning 25 October.

  20. Jonathan A McCoy says:

    My father, Chief Petty Officer Adoniral McCoy, who served 28 yrs USN , purchased the land where the 2 Barracks buildings were located around the mid 1970s. At the time only the boiler room was standing on the North barracks and almost half of the south one. In the eastern end of the barracks has concrete floors on 1st & 2nd stories. He remodeled & lived in it for years before building a house using the lumber he tore down off the other end. The house is built using the original steps & is on the concrete pilings of the north barracks . My sisters, brother, & I inherited it when he passed in 1989. At the present time my daughter and I live on the 4 acres he owned, which boarders the northern part of the newly extended runway. There is still part of the barracks standing, but is in poor shape from time, vandalism and disrepair. If anyone has information about where I might find some more history or some old pictures of the barracks I would love to know more about it. I have a few pictures of what is still here.

  21. I edit a magazine published by the University of West Florida Historic Trust, Pensacola History Illustrated: A Journal of Pensacola and West Florida History. The next issue, which will go to press in a couple of weeks, contains letters written by a man who was stationed at Barin Field in 1944. I would like to have some photographs of Barin Field during that time to use in the magazine. The seaman who wrote the letters, Michael “Mickey” Wolak was an aviation machinist’s mate. Photos that show the SNJs, the field, and the barracks would be greatly appreciated. There will be a credit line with each photo, stating who furnished the picture.

    • We have photos of Barin Field during the time period you are asking…. also the 1958 yearbook has photos that cover that time.
      Floyd “Duff” McDonough was stationed in Barin, gave us a number of photos of serving there in late forties and early fifties. He too married a local gal. Smiling here.

  22. We here at the Foley Public Library in Foley have a large collection on Barin Field aka “Bloody Barin” and we were privileged to be the recipient of Barin Field’s declassified information, as result twenty some notebooks of material are in our Alabama, Local History and Genealogy Collections. Have many service men who were stationed at Barin come back through to renew memories. Being a native of area, I recall number of crashes as planes trained in what we locals called ‘dog fighting’ and the dip of planes at some unsuspecting farmer on his tractor in a field. Come see us. Jeanette Bornholt, Librarian

    • Don Wetzel says:

      Just finished reading the last four post. I was stationed at Barin in 1956 and 57, in the Crash Crew. I come down every fall and drive around, no one to talk to though and end up that evening at the VFW in Elberta.
      I wish someone could get in touch with me so when I come down we could meet up. I will be down the first week in November this year. My email is: Thanks and looking forward to hearing from some one.

  23. J.M. (Mike) McENIRY says:

    I was NavCad Class 19-53, placing me at NAAS Barin Field for Carrier Quals and Gunnery, still flying the SNJ…about late 1953 or early 54. There were a few fatal accidents during “Field” Carrier practice, low altitude…low and slow, if the engine coughs you fall out of the sky. You’re too low to jump or too low to recover from a stall and that combination can kill ya. –and did.
    I left a 1940 Lincoln Zephyr Convertable, with the key in it and a blown transmission outside the gate. I didn’t have insurance and hadn’t transfered title so just left to go to Corpus Christi for Advanced flight training.

    • Roger Graves says:

      Interesting story, I especially liked the Lincoln Zephyr comment. I was at Barin in ’58 and there were a few SNJ’s left, but mostly they had gone to the T-28 Trojans. Very powerful trainer, which I had an opportunity to fly in the rear seat with Assistant Division Officer, Lt. Ron Miner. He lived in Mid-Michigan where I lived and we would fly home occasionally for his flight hours requirement.

  24. Jean Taylor says:

    Ray Keith, my father was stationed at Barin Field during that time, a machanic on plane motors, my sister and I were born during that time at Pensacols Hospital. He will visit Foley for the winter, now 93 yrs old, would love to be at the get togather.

  25. Dennis Mann says:

    At Barin Field (via Saufley) from 1968 through 1970 (AMH-3). Drove the crew bus and trucks and maintenance (planecap) on T-28’s. Helped developed the Barin Beast Logo and still have my patch and pictures. Had some good times and worked hard. Miss the beach and rattle snakes at the dump.We used to shoot the snakes with flare guns. Cool Hand Luke was the big movie during that period. We also had an egg eating contest. Alot of sweet Alabama girls that were more advanced then I was. I should have stayed there and bought real estate.

  26. Riplely A. (Bud) Garland says:

    I was Navy Reserve 4 yrs. but went active in Feb 13 1952, shipped out of Chicago to Pensacola and then on to Barin Field. While working as a plane captain on the SNJs I slipped in some oil on a wing and landed on my tail bone causing life long back damage. Sent to Pensacola hospital where I was in traction for several weeks and then in a back cast for 6 weeks. Still in a back cast today after my seventh surgery. Sub sequentially after hospital stay was sent back to Barin Field where I was put in the Leading Chief’s office where I worked for a Chief Caver and Another Chief who I seem to think it might have been Smith but not certain, anybody with a better memory than mine please help me refresh mine. Would like to hear from the Liberian from Foley who might have photos of that time frame. I was born in Minnesota and lived there until Sept. 1st 2015 when I relocated to Biloxi MS. I’m now 82 I’m only about 100 miles from Foley. I had hitched rides many times while on active duty as my Grandpa lived in Biloxi and my Dad was born there. Would love to hear from any one serving at Barin field during the same time period. March 1952 to Dec. 1953. God Bless all you survivors.

  27. Ronnie Missildine says:

    My dad, Seaman Ariel Missildine, Jr. was stationed at Barin somewhere around 1943 until the end of WWII. He was drafted & did his boot camp at Bronson Field (W. of P’cola), & because he had grocery store experience was sent to Barin to work, first, then later manage the Ship Service Canteen. While there, he attained to Seaman 1st Class (S1c). He brought my mother down from So. Montgomery, Co., AL & they lived off base in Foley in a tiny house behind a widow lady who rented it to them (I wish I could remember her name). I have pictures of dad & mom there. He told me the stories about why it was called “bloody Barin” because of all the crack-ups of the SNJ’s. Most of you probably know that there is an SNJ-5C (51849) from Barin hanging in the atrium just below the Blue Angels’ A-4’s at the Naval Air Museum on NAS Pensacola. Also, in the area upstairs where the paintings are there is a watercolor by Robert L. Rasmussen of an SNJ Texan from Barin Field, of a student naval aviator getting the “Charlie 3” order from the USS Cabot (CVL 28) in 1952. All very interesting to me because of my dad’s history there

  28. Randall Parks says:

    I was stationed at Barin Field from 1957 till it closed in 1958. Attended Barin reunion about 20 yrs ago. Always hoped to see another reunion but so far it hasn’t happened that I know about. After Barin closing I finished out my enlistment at Saufley Field in Pensacola, Fl. I now live on Daphne , Al.

  29. Don Duffy says:

    I was stationed at Barin from late ’57 until mid ’58 when I was transfered to NAS Pensacola. I started at Barin in T2 Div, than transferred to METG in the hanger area. I have great memories of my time there and great liberties in Mobile and New Orleans. I still have my ’58 Year Book and consider it a treasure.

  30. ralph l doss says:

    I was at Barin in 1953-1954. I was on the flight line, and was a plane captain, responsible for 15 snj’s. I also flew often with an instructor on gunnery pulling the long Sleeve, and also flew out to the aircraft carrier Monterey in the Gulf. It was an exciting time. Spent a lot of time in Foley and at the beach. Also enjoyed going to Mobile on the weekend with my friend Walter Cunningham.

  31. Don Clarke says:

    Hello, all.

    I just came across this site while updating my father’s memoirs. He was a Marine pilot and taught tactics, spins, and stalls at Barin, fondly referred to as “Bloody Barin.” I noticed Ronnie Missildine mentioned this in his account of the field.

    The field got it’s name from the number of pilots killed while flying there. I noticed in my father’s NAS Pensacola “yearbook” a number of pilots with the inscription, “Killed-Barin” next to their pictures. If you have have any pics or information about that time (sometime mid ’43 to ’44) please contact me.

    Thanks for your interest in this site….keep the memories flowin’ in to pass on to another generation.

  32. Robert E. Bland says:

    Was at Barin from mid 56 to mid 58, then went to the USS Independence in Brooklyn NY, just found this site, was trying
    to find out just when the base closed I know it was not long after I left, my wife and I lived at 420 laurel ave in the navy housing, my son was born in Oct. 57 in Mobil, have enjoyed reading the post, will have to look the names listed in my
    year book.
    Thanks for the site
    Bob Bland

    • Roger Graves says:

      I was at Barin mid ’57 to ’58. Barin Was decommissioned in ’58. I went to Pensacola for a year, then went aboard two ships, the USS Albemarle, a seaplane tender, then onto the USS Randolph, CVS15. Enjoyed my time an Barin very much.

  33. Jody Grice says:

    Looking for information about my father William Frederick Butler, he6was killed in an accident when he was6stationed at Barin in October 1953, he was a crash crew or fire department

  34. Matthew Colaianni says:

    Did you have a reunion of Barin Field yet?
    I came to Barin straight from boot camp. Worked in the library until my transfer to Pensacola.
    My name is
    Matthew Colaianni, my friends call me Matt, my wife calls me lots of things!

  35. Don Wetzel says:

    In the Crash Crew at Barin from 56 to 58, then on the USS Wasp.

  36. Tom Embaugh III says:

    My Dad, Elmer Thomas Embaugh Jr. was at Barin in the early 50s. We are hoping to bring him to the area next summer for vacation so I am starting to research possible points of interest. I will be in touch with a number of you who own parts of the old base. We will also plan to make a stop at the library in Foley.

    I am a bit unclear on one thing. I see it currently designated as NOLF Barin on the map. Does that mean that some of the runways are still in use for practice by aircraft out of other bases?

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