On October 5, 1950, the 773rd Tank Battalion of the National Gaurd was activated by the Federal Government for the Korean War.

The men of the 773rd BN reported for training the same day, but most of them did not have to travel far.

The high school seniors of Alexandria, Vernon Parish, Beauregard Parish and Ville Platte were the brave men of the 773 BN.

While these men trained together, they did not go to war as a unit, but instead were separated and sent as individuals where they were needed.

One of these men was Sonny Barry, a resident of Leesville.

The grandson of P.W. West, Barry was ready when his country called and 68 years later can still remember it all like it was yesterday.

Barry remembers fighting along Heartbreak Ridge, a place he never thought he might run into fellow Wampus Cats, but that is excactly what happened.

“I visited Guy Stone on the front once, but I didn’t stay too long,” Barry joked.

Stone was a Vernon Parish native who was a part of Company C of the 773d along with Barry.

Bill Beaver, Arlie and Melvin Hicks, Donny Cohen, Delman Craft and Claud Lawerence were all members of Company C as well as all from the Leesville area.

These men were just seniors in high school when their unit was activated, something Barry remembers by the score of a football game.

“That was the year that DeRidder beat us (Wampus Cats) 20-19 and you know I’m still not over that,” Barry said.

Barry recalls that the action he was a part of was made up mostly of mortar fire, but that was deadly enough for him.

“They could put it in your back pocket,” Barry said about the enemy mortar fire.

Barry shared that his company was able to make it back in one piece, but that he did witness casualties.

When asked if he received any honors after the war, Barry was quick to talk about the honors earned by one of his fellow battalion members, instead of sharing his own.

Barry shared that Stone joined the Navy after the Korean War and was later awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest honor in the nation after the Medal of Honor.

Only later and in a low tone did Barry mention he was awarded the Bronze Star.

Barry and his fellow 773rd BN came home from the war after the President called all National Guard units and reserves back to the states.

The men who made up the 773rd BN were just local boys who dropped everything when their country called them to duty. They were and still are the men who make up both Vernon and Beauregard Parish and they are the men who help make the history of this area so rich and wonderful.