Area Gold Star Wives of all eras will have the opportunity to meet and socialize for the first time in the area Friday when ladies — and gentlemen — will gather at the Georgia National Guard Armory in Savannah.
Patricia Barbee, formerly of Pembroke and a Gold Star Wife of the Vietnam era, has helped coordinate the meeting, set for 10 a.m. Friday at the Georgia National Guard Armory at 1248 Eisenhower Drive in Savannah, to inform local Gold Star Wives of benefits available to them and give them an opportunity to socialize.
“Never has there been a Gold Star Wife meeting in the Coastal Empire,” Barbee said.
Gold Star Wives are widows of men who have been killed in action, died from wounds in action or died as a result of a wound or illness during their service, Barbee said. Gold Star Husbands are welcome, too, she added.
“He may be a man, but he is still one of us because he’s lost his best friend, spouse, love of his life and a whole lot more,” Barbee said.
Speakers, brochures and packets and more will be available to those who attend the meeting, she said.
“There are benefits to ladies that some may not even know of, even if it’s only a discount at a department store,” she said. “We want the ladies to know what is available.”
Other topics, like housing and mortgages, will also be discussed, she said. And she hopes 12th District Congressman John Barrow, D-Ga., and 1st District Congressman Jack Kingston, R-Ga., will be on hand, as well, though nothing is set in stone, she said.
Barbee added that she hopes the meeting will encourage Gold Star Wives to start a chapter in this region. Having one here would be a “major benefit,” she said.
“It’s the sistership, the friendship and getting to know one another,” she said. “To know I’ve got the number of a Gold Star Wife and can go have a nice lunch is a blessing.”
She joined the organization after her Marine husband, the late Sgt. John W. Barbee, was killed in action in 1968. Since, the Boston native has served as the Gold Star Wives Mid Atlantic Regional chapter president, helped form a chapter, plan a national convention and much more during her many years dedicated to the organization.
Barbee said since she moved to Georgia in 1977, she has tried to bring some form of Gold Star Wives activity to the area and is thrilled to have received help over the past six months while planning this meeting.
She said 3rd Infantry Division commanding general Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams, who also “has buds on his shoulders for angel wings,” has been a great help, along with Neil Russell, a coordinator with the Army’s Survivor Outreach Services, who has helped coordinate the meeting.
Barbee encourages wives who are interested to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.