June Volunteer Spotlight: Buford Barnett

Meet Buford Barnett our June Spotlight Member of the Month!

Born in Lenoir, North Carolina, he was lucky enough to have lived under the approach of the Lower Creek Airport, NC 027. From a young age, he watched a steady stream of Piper Cubs, Aeronca Champs and Cessnas as they over flew his home. By the age of five, he had worn a foot deep path around his home watching the local air traffic. As he aged, he braved the woods, cow pastures and cornfields where he became the proverbial kid at the airport fence.

He decided on a law enforcement career at age ten with a dream of flying bird dogs in Vietnam. Vietnam and the Cold War were always an undercurrent for students during this era. Plans change, and upon graduation from Hibriten High School in 1974, the war was winding down. That same week, his father was diagnosed with leukemia and hospitalized until his death in early 1975, so he enrolled in Western Piedmont Community College studying police science followed by Guilford College studying police administration.

Lenoir is a furniture town, and if you worked, odds are you worked in furniture. During high school and college summers and after, Buford worked in the furniture industry eventually becoming an acting plant superintendent. In 1980, he joined the Lenoir Police Department working in patrol and special enforcement divisions. In 1987, he moved to the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department working in the patrol and detective divisions. After a back surgery, he left the sheriff’s department in 1997 and worked at the Caldwell County Department of Social Services until he retired in 2007.

Buford’s love of all things aviation never faded. His first involvement with the Hickory Aviation Museum was in 2008 when his son Marcus joined and introduced his grandfather Homer Wellborn, who served with some amazing World War Two Aces, George Pretty and Richard Bong. In 2016, while living near Lake Hickory, he heard a very loud jet while mowing his yard. Upon coming to the airport, he found the new Grumman EA-6B Prowler. Shortly after, he joined the museum and found it was his favorite day of the week. In 2021, he became the museum’s general manager.

You can find Buford about any day of the week at HAM. As our museum evolves from a small museum to a large modern museum, we invite you to visit. Then consider joining our organization; it will also be your favorite day of the week.

Thanks for all of your efforts at HAM, we appreciate what you do for our membership and guests.

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