Clarksville, TN – The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Austin Peay State University (APSU) is celebrating its 50th year. To mark the occasion, each month we’ll share one story of a Governor’s Guard alumni or former leader.
This month, we share the story of Lt. Col. Mark Barton, the current professor of military science who oversees the ROTC at APSU.
Barton knew he wanted to find a job in Tennessee to be closer to family.
“My wife has family in Knoxville and every time I’ve come to Tennessee, I enjoy the area so much,” Barton said.
Barton also knew of the excellence and high reputation APSU’s ROTC program holds, which helped him make his decision.
“When APSU came up, I knew their ROTC program had a great reputation,” Barton said. “They’ve won the MacArthur Award eight times, so I knew the program was quite solid. Also, with it being close to Fort Campbell, I knew it was a great training opportunity.”
The Douglas MacArthur Foundation awards the MacArthur award to school ROTC programs that recognize “duty, honor, and country.” The award looks at the school’s commissioning mission, the performance of the cadets, the standing of the school on the National Order of Merit list, and the retention rate of cadets.
Working with the cadets at APSU is a humbling experience and something special to Barton. Barton instills treating others with dignity and respect to the cadets in the program.
“It’s part of being a leader, and it goes along with the golden rule,” Barton said. “Being an Army officer, you have to manage a lot of people who make up a diverse population.”
Barton has served on many assignments around the world.
In August of 2006, Barton was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom-5. He was in command of the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB), 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery, in September 2006 at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Warrior, Iraq. While on this assignment, HHB partnered with and trained over 5,000 Iraqi Security Forces and conducted 550 combat patrols.
From November 2014-November 2015, Barton was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Resolute Support. He first served as the Joint Operations Center Shift Director and then as the Joint Task Force-3 (JTF-3) Fire Support Coordinator (FSCOORD) for the rest of his time there.
Among Barton’s many awards is the Bronze Star Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three bronze campaign stars (Consolidation I, Transition I, and Transition II), and the Iraq Campaign Medal with two bronze campaign stars (National Resolution and Iraqi Surge).
He is one of a few people in the Army to have earned and worn the Space Badge, for those who have completed space operations and missile training.