From the Woolner Family
© Leslie Woolner Bardsley
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Lt. Col. Andrew Barr, My Boss
Frank Woolner
Journalist, Headquarters, 3rd Armored Division

Written in 1972


Headlines are always reserved for commanders in wartime, the ground-gainers who lead task forces and divisions and armies. There is nothing wrong about this, although it seems sorrowful that hard working staff officers get lost in the shuffle. I sing the praises of Andrew Barr, Lt. Colonel, G-2 [Division Headquarters Intelligence Section].

As a buck sergeant, shanghaied into Headquarters, 3rd Armored Division as a public relations specialist with no T.O. promise of higher rating because the army was just beginning to think about news coverage, I got to know and respect Andy Barr.

By my standards - and remember that I was rather youthful at the time - Barr seemed already old and going to waistline. He was probably in his forties, bespectacled and apparently sedentary. I'd sure like to be that young today!

But Andy was the best, one of the finest gentlemen I ever knew and one of Third Armored Division's centurions. Like a benevolent spider he sat in G-2 and knew just about everything that was happening on our side or in enemy territory. Barr should have been at high command level, not division, because he was both a warm human being and a faultless flesh-and-blood computer. There was no "garbage in and garbage out" with him; he tilted his astute head on one side, thought it out - and came up with the right answer.

Barr wasn't an old line soldier. He was a civilian technician, purely and simply - a brain. Those of us who worked under him knew it whenever we peered into his squinted eyes behind spectacles. We knew that there was no possibility of outmaneuvering so erudite and cool a man. He seemed to know everything that had happened, everything that was happening, and was pretty well able to diagnose the future.

If this account seems to blueprint a cold satrap of authority, I assure you that Barr was never aloof and mechanical. Always he had a twinkle in his eye. Always he evaluated his "troops" and made allowances for honest transgressions. He could be tough, but he was fair. In the G-2 section he chastised us when we were wrong, and he protected us when we had made honest mistakes. He was so goddamned sharp that no subterfuge could fool him, and he would fight our battles so long as we leveled with him and offered all facts.

Obviously, I am fond of Andy Barr. I worked under him - and under Haynes Dugan, who was Third Armored Division's public relations officer throughout that war. Dugan was also easy to get along with, so long as you did a job. There was no "chicken" and no problem.

I have very recently learned that Andy Barr has retired from Federal Service as chief accountant of the FEC, and has now become Visiting Professor of Accountancy in the College of Commercial and Business Administration at the University of Illinois. I wish him all of the best.

And, if any of his students read this, I offer advice. This man will be very sharp, gimlet-eyed and inquiring. Nothing will escape him. He will seem to know everything. He will have a sense of humor and he will demand perfection. Andrew Barr has never been the sort of character who accepts second place.

There is always glory for the leaders and flowers for conquerors. Too often we forget the brain that provides information essential to victory.

Cold figures tell us that Andy Barr is getting old, as all of us are who served in that war. But let no student under-rate him! Once, he directed the whirlwind, and never faltered. He is a great soldier, a great philosopher, and a grand citizen of America.

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