CORBIN — After spending a week in France reliving historical events and retracing family footsteps, men of the Barrineau family have returned to the United States with unforgettable memories and experiences.
On Saturday, June 9, a band of brothers with men from multiple states set out on the adventure of a lifetime. Father and son duo Van and Graham Barrineau of Corbin said they got even more than they bargained for with the trip.
The Barrineaus of Corbin, Ted Barrineau of Whitley County, Joseph Kirton, Jr. of Cleveland, Tennessee, and Janton Barrineau of Charleston, South Carolina, traveled to France with Ret. Army Col. Keith Brace from the Citadel and Mike Murphy of Charleston.
The patriarch of the family, Private First Class Joseph K. Barrineau, was wounded fighting in World War II. Just a few years ago, in honor of their late father, the family took a trip to New Orleans where they loaned their father’s helmet to the National World War II Museum to be put on display. Currently the helmet is still there.
Next stop… Normandy, France.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to honor what the greatest generation did for us,” Janton Barrineau said as he set out to leave for France. “And to experience this with three of my brothers knowing that my dad played a part — it’s just amazing.”
Janton organized the trip for his brothers and nephew and they’ll tell you he went above and beyond, filling up their day with nonstop adventures from sun up to sundown. Janton prepared top-secret file folders for each individual on the trip. The individuals were responsible for completing the missions and finding the locations that were assigned to them inside their file folders.
“Some of the places were geared around where he (their father) was,” Van Barrineau said. “We went to Utah Beach and that’s were he ported in off the ship to come up off the beach and to fight.”
Within the file folders, each person held a different picture and a different mission for the day, which kept them extremely busy.
Not knowing he was going to have to work the files everyday, 14-year-old Graham Barrineau was a little upset when he first learned about the intense scholarly nature of his summer vacation.
The first day Graham didn’t even take his folder with him. As he watched the older men work their missions, he had a change of heart. The Barrineaus said it was almost like a scavenger hunt and some of it was fun.
Some of the missions were harder than others, according to Ted.
“I’m not the history buff that Janton is, so I didn’t understand some of it that he would understand, but as we got into it, it became more interesting,” Van said.
Ted said when they started traveling to the places where their father would have most likely been, it became more motivating to the group. Once individuals would find the assigned location within their file folder, they would document it with a photograph and compare it to the old photo they were given in the file.
“It became more personal,” he said. “We’re basically right in his footsteps.”
Traveling just after D-day, the American flags were flying high and were in abundance in France. The brothers said almost more so than in the United States. The United States cemetery in France especially impressed Ted.
“It is so manicured,” Ted said. “There is not one blade of grass out of place. It was an amazing thing.”
The Barrineaus said their father would have been happy to see that his sons got together for an event in his name.
FORCE N (Force Normandy) is a trip conceptualized by Janton Barrineau, Ret. Army Col. Keith Brace and Joe Heiberger two years ago. Their efforts focus on providing personalized tours of Normandy for families of World War II veterans. Their first successful trip was launched in 2016.