It’s been nearly five decades since Bob Barr spent an agonizing day in Pearl Harbor.
“The bomb went off. Then I saw this red, orange, sky and smoke,” the 101-year-old West Virginia native remembers. “I had to jump clear of the smoke.”
Her fiancé Jack Bair, 21, wasn’t there with Barr. But he had been in a torpedo boat that was fired on by another vessel.
“The middle deck in mine field. I thought I was going to be hit and killed. I did a good job of running. The explosion was so close to me and hit me. So I had a bandage on my hand and the fella that saved my life got wounded,” Bair remembered.
A captured American pilot, took credit for the attack, which had already claimed the lives of more than 2,400 Americans.
Barr’s wedding dress sat in a museum in Ohio, and photos from the day were in a frame stacked in a display case outside their home. But Barr felt the loss of her husband still felt like an open wound.
“Why? I don’t know, I couldn’t believe it. It was just unimaginable,” she said.
So in January of 2011, Barr signed up for the Merchant Marine Academy, and in March of 2011, Barber finished the intensive five-week program and began a busy tour of different World War II military archives around the country and got a new perspective on her lost love and her lost life.
The youngest of seven children, Barr and Bair’s relationship was already on its way to becoming the stuff of Hollywood. The two were planning to get married at the age of 21 and after she graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy she wanted to take Bair with her. Bair remained in the service, but returned to West Virginia to be with Barr. A year later they were married.
“Yeah, I did. But I’m thankful to Jack for bringing me back,” Barr said.
But now with his missing bride’s eyes and heart prying at him from his naval service past, Bair has sometimes wondered if she could have fared better.
“I think she would have made a better life for herself because she would have been in the Navy and maybe in the air force. Maybe she would have had more in her life, she would have saved a lot of money and her money would have been a lot more good,” he said.
Not long after Bair completed a tour of duty in the Pacific and Barr has finally accepted his wife’s future passed him by. She went on to earn her master’s degree and went on to become a businesswoman working as a mother and learning to a master marketer, and recently launched a magazine called Passionate.
And while it’s been years since their blue eye first met his crimson and chocolate looked at each other, the two have always had a fierce bond.
“Even though we’re so different looking, I never lost hope that maybe, just maybe we might get together again,” Bair said.