Charleston lawyer Tim Barber said his father was with his brother when he died. "I don't think he ever got over it," he said.
Before the war, Daniel Barber had been studying chemistry at West Virginia University. He later told his son David, "When he got blown up in France, I decided I should study medicine. I wanted to carry on for Lawrence."
Bennett shot down
Louis Bennett Jr. was West Virginia's only World War I ace, and placed ninth on the war's roster of aces.
He had 12 combat kills: three aircraft and nine balloons, including four in one day.
"This record was accomplished in just 10 days after assignment to his unit on August 14 and with only 41 hours of combat flying time," Sheets wrote in the West Virginia Encyclopedia.
Bennett died as his plane was shot down by the Germans on Aug. 24.
His mother, though, didn't get confirmation until October. In the meantime, she sent telegrams offering rewards for information and to locate his body.
She later traveled to Europe to try to find where he had died and to recover his remains. Sallie Bennett couldn't believe that neither the U.S. nor British governments had done anything to recognize her son's heroism -- no medal, no memorial service.
In contrast, Tim Barber said the U.S. government paid for both his grandmother and his uncle's widow to travel to France to visit Timothy Lawrence Barber's grave in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne, where more than 14,000 U.S. soldiers are buried.
His name is listed on the monument in the Lee Street Triangle that honors the 125 men from Kanawha County who died in the World War.
There's a marker that bears his name on an empty grave in the Barber family burial section in Spring Hill Cemetery.
The men of the ambulance unit no doubt remembered him at the regular reunions that Tim Barber said used to be held until the survivors got too old.
World War I, he pointed out, was the last U.S. conflict in which individuals personally formed military units and then placed them under the Army's direction, as had been done since the Revolutionary War.
Sallie Bennett was determined that her only son would be remembered -- in three countries.
She paid to have a chapel rebuilt in Wavrin, France, where Louis Bennett Jr. died in a German field hospital. The chapel had been destroyed by the retreating Germans. Sallie Bennett attended a rededication service there on the anniversary of his death and on the same day a memorial service was held for both her husband and son in St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Weston.
She commissioned a famous sculptor to create a 7 1/2-foot-tall statue of her son in his belted flight coat with winged arms. A few months after his historic flight in 1927, Charles Lindbergh visited the war memorial and placed a wreath on "The Aviator," which still stands on the campus of the Linsly School in Wheeling.
In 1921, she donated her 17-room Italianate mansion in Weston to be used as a public library. Nine decades later, schoolchildren still climb the flight of steps to the Louis Bennett Jr. library.
Nancy Colburn, who serves on library board, was among a group of Weston residents who visited London this past summer. They made a point of visiting Westminster Abbey to search out the stained-glass window Sallie Bennett paid to install in 1922.
The window overlooks the grave of the Unknown Warrior in the nave. Its theme is flying men and wings and is in memory of the British (Royal) Flying Corps.
At the top of the window is a figure of St. Michael, patron saint of airmen. Mrs. Bennett apparently gave the artist a photograph of her son because his portrait is the face of the angel holding the shield of faith.
"If one observes closely in the lower right-hand corner of the window is the State Seal of West Virginia, the only state to be so represented at the Abbey," wrote Sheets in his Goldenseal article on Sallie Bennett's monuments.
Reach Rosalie Earle at ea...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5115.