By: John Cuddy – Jan. 2022
After graduating from Lowell High School with the Class of 1965, Lowell’s Barry Kuntz enlisted in the US Air Force. Asked why?
He replied, “I felt the Air Force suited me best.” After completing US Air Force Basic Training in San Antonio, Texas, Barry was assigned to McGuire AFB in New Jersey. AFB simply stands for Air Force Base.
Trained as a US Military Police Officer, his training was split between law enforcement and security. The latter requiring extensive Security Clearances. The duties of the US Air Force Police assigned to law enforcement was to patrol the base and protect government facilities, military personnel, and their families. Barry said these duties were very similar to being a sworn police officer in a small or midsized town. The enlisted Airmen working their assigned shifts, dealing with car accidents, shoplifting, and an occasional intoxicated serviceman or the spouse of one.
Once an Airman received the correct Security Clearance, they would also be assigned to provide security for aircraft, weapons, and even nuclear weapons. All US Military members are trained in the use and application of “Deadly Force.”
While Barry was assigned duties guarding our Nation’s Nuclear arsenal, he was required to follow the Code of Federal Regulations 1047.7 section a-3, which covers special provisions concerning the protecting and providing security for Nuclear weapons. When he was assigned to McGuire AFB, Barry was involved in providing security for the Northeast Corridor’s Air Defense system. Basically, the dome or cone of defense against incoming missiles or enemy aircraft aimed at hitting the Northeast part of the United States.
At this point in his military career, Barry was a Sargent in the US Air Force, he was transferred to the enormous Clarke AFB in the Republic of the Philippines. There, he was assigned to provide security, protecting the US Air Force fighter jets and pilots that accompanied the B-52 Bombers on their Combat Missions over Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The huge Bombers flew out of either Guam or Thailand, the fighter escorts, having a shorter fuel range, flew out of the Philippines.
Barry’s tour in the Philippines was cut short when the North Koreans seized the USS Pueblo (AGER-2), a Banner-class environmental research ship, on January 23, 1968. Sgt Barry Kuntz was sent to South Korea to assist with the heightened security needs of the US Military in Korea. This duty put him near one of the largest Communist Armies in the world at the time, the 1.2-million-man North Korean Army, or Korean People’s Army. This is the 4th largest military organization in the world. His tour in the Philippines thrust him into the “hot” war with Vietnam, his tour in Korea, the “cold” war with North Korea, both the Koreans and the Vietnamese were backed by China and the Soviet Union.
After serving in the US Air Force, Barry returned to Lowell, and went to work as a printer at the Courier Citizen for 16 years, later he worked as a manager for Purity Supremes’ warehouse and several other commercial warehouses in the Merrimack Valley. He returned to the Courier, working at their Westford, Massachusetts location, until his retirement.
For the last eight years, he has been working for the Lowell Golden Gloves organization, giving him the opportunity to meet Lowell Boxer, Micky Ward. The Lowell Golden Gloves celebrate their 75th Anniversary this year and boasts boxing greats Rocky Marciano and Marvin Hagler among the fighters that participated with the program in Lowell.
Barry and his wife Lorraine, have a son and a daughter, along with three grandchildren. The entire family is involved helping Veterans through their work with the Dracut American Legion. Barry’s wife and daughter painted Post 315’s Legion Hall during the COVID 19 shutdown, and his family’s efforts have resulted in a drastic increase in function hall rentals since the COVID 19 restrictions were eased by the State of Massachusetts.
Barry, who is the Post Adjutant, sees the need to help our Merrimack Valley Veterans meet their basic needs for health care, housing, employment, education, and fellowship. He sees the American Legion as playing a pivotal role in making sure these needs are met, and keeping Veterans engaged in the community, and in particular, Voting.
For his US Air Force service, his efforts working with our Nation’s youth in the Lowell Golden Gloves program, and constantly helping fellow local Veterans with their basic needs, over fifty years after his own military service, serving his family as a husband, father, and grandfather, Barry Kuntz, is truly a “Hero in Our Midst”!
The Dracut American Legion asks all World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War Veterans, to call (603) 518-5368 and sign up for an Honor Flight to the Memorials in Washington DC! Veterans of all eras are asked to go the American Legion’s Web site www.legion.org, and join the American Legion, preserving our Veteran’s Benefits for future generations.
John Cuddy served in the US Navy’s Construction Battalions (also known as the Seabees) after retiring from the US Navy; he earned a bachelor’s in history and a master’s in economics from the University of Massachusetts on the Lowell Campus. He has been employed in Logistics at FedEx for the last 25 years. If you know a World War II, Korean War, or Vietnam War, Veteran who would like their story told, please email him at John.Cuddy@Yahoo.com ◊