Following graduation from high school, Barry Simpson entered the US Army and completed Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Infantry Advanced Individual Training and Basic Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Following assignment with the 24th Infantry Division, he arrived at Vicenza Italy for assignment with 1-509th ABCT for twenty five months. After returning to CONUS, he was involved in a traffic accident which led to medical retirement approximately eight months later.
A longtime member of the 509th Parachute Infantry Association, Simpson attended the 50th Anniversary of the Airborne Reunion in Washington, DC in 1990 and annual reunions starting in 2000. In the spring of 2003 the Association treasurer was forced to resign for personal reasons and Simpson was appointed Association treasurer, a position he held for 10 years.
As the World War II veterans passed away and prior to the post-WWII veterans joining in large numbers he worked to stabilize and grow the Association revenue. This included personally financing Association coins in 2004 and 2005. At the time the treasury was turned over at the reunion in 2013 the bank account was around five times larger than when he accepted the position.
In 2004, Barry Simpson was named 509th PIA Man of the Year at the annual Atlanta All Airborne Awards Festival and hosted the 2004 509th Reunion in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since the original Association bylaws could not be found, he wrote new bylaws prior to the 2006 reunion in Dayton, Ohio. In 2007 he became the first post-World War II veteran elected President of the Association.
Over the years, Simpson has worked to publicize the 509th and the Association, including working an online vendor, Combat Casuals, to offer 509th embroidered items for veterans to purchase and wear. He arranged to have the Association colors made in 2004 for use at the annual reunions and he advised on the design of a new Association logo in 2011.
After turning over the treasury position, Simpson was appointed Special Projects chairman for the Association. In that position he has overseen the Association’s adoption of an Order of Geronimo award to individuals who have made significant contributions to the 509th and the Association. Currently he is working to have a monument to the 509th PIR designed and built at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia. Simpson has also worked on articles of incorporation to set up a non-profit tax deductible foundation for projects preserving the history of the 509th.
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