Roxie native killed on duty in Afghanistan

Published 8:52 pm Thursday, June 10, 2010

It was just a few weeks ago that Johnny Monroe remembered thefinal baseball game of the 1993 season at Franklin County HighSchool.

The retired coach and athletic director doesn’t know what gothim to thinking about it, but he remembered his senior catcher,Robert “Bobby” Nicholas Barton, crushing the first homerun he everhit in the playoff game and sparking some hope in the Bulldogsbefore they were eliminated quickly thereafter. Monroe drove Bartonhome that night.

That memory grew in solemnity when Monroe heard the news thatStaff Sgt. Barton, 35, a Roxie native, was killed in Afghanistanthis past weekend when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle.Four other servicemen were also killed in the blast.

Barton was deployed to the War on Terror with the U.S. Army fromFt. Campbell in Kentucky.

“It couldn’t have been over a few months ago I remembered thatnight, carrying him home,” Monroe said. “He was a good kid, a goodkid. He worked hard, had good work ethic and never had a disciplineproblem.”

Keith Zimmerman, Bude Baptist Church youth director, rememberedhis former football teammate as a “great guy” who was destined fora career in the military. Barton joined the service the year afterhis 1993 graduation from Franklin County High School.

“He always stood for good stuff, and he had your back wheneveryou needed him,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said he hadn’t spoken with Barton in years, but herecalled him as someone who was always there to pump up the teamand keeping them going when things looked bleak.

“He was a great guy and I hate that we lost him,” Zimmermansaid. “He was a great leader, great friend and always there for youin a time of need, an outstanding person.”

Barton was deployed to Afghanistan on April 24.

The bodies of Barton and the four other American servicemen werereturned Wednesday to the military mortuary at Dover Air Force Basein Delaware. Plans are for him to be buried in the militarycemetery at Fort Campbell.

Barton and his wife, Rebecca, had been married for one year andlived in Hopkinsville, Ky. Other survivors include his father,Nathaniel Coleman; his mother, Rebecca Paugh; his grandmother JoBeth Coleman; and a half sister and half brother.