It's a trip he dreamed about most of his life. It not only was an agricultural and World War II tour but also a reunion.
"I talked about this trip ever since I was in college but when I started working, I never had any time until retirement," said Barnett, who sold his longtime practice of Laurel Highlands Animal Hospital on Stoystown Road near Somerset last year.
Along with 37 people from all over the U.S. (four of whom were World War II veterans in their 80s), Dr. Barnett left Aug. 7 for Paris, France, via airplane from Washington, D.C. and returned Aug. 18.
He originally booked this Rupiper Tour advertised in Farm Journal several months ago.
"There wasn't any state represented twice on the tour — people were from Oklahoma, Arizona and Rhode Island — all over," said Barnett. "The World War II vets visited (Gen.) Patton's grave in Luxembourg and Taps and the National Anthem were played there in their honor. That was something to see."
The summer after Dr. Barnett was graduated from Somerset High School in 1958, a German exchange student named Wilhelm Wagner stayed with Ida Mae and James Barnett of Lincoln Township through the International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE). Wagner also stayed with the Eichorn family that summer and made many friends.
The IFYE program also gave the opportunity for Lincoln Township students, like Lowell Friedline, Lynette Ely, Bill Blough and Barb Berkey, to travel abroad as well. Dr. Barnett's father, James, has since died but his mother, Ida Mae, 95, lives at Siemons in Somerset.
"My siblings went to Germany to visit Wilhelm but I never got there," explained Barnett. His siblings, Jim Barnett of Lancaster County and Susie Dull of Pittsburgh traveled to Germany a few times. Like Dr. Barnett, Barnett's sister in Somerset, Connie Marteeny, always worked in nursing and has never traveled to Germany.
The youngest sibling, Debbie Debo, who was a baby when Wilhelm visited, lives in Texas and has not traveled to Germany either.