GAITHERSBURG, MD, US
U. S. Army
SPC, CO D, 1ST BN, 325TH INF, FORT BRAGG, NC
08/23/2006, YUSIFIYAH, IRAQ
Army Specialist Thomas J. Barbieri died August 23, 2006 serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was killed when his patrol encountered enemy forces small-arms fire during combat operations south of Baghdad, Iraq. He was twenty-four years old. T.J. was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the engagement that cost him his life. According to the citation, he exposed himself in full view of the enemy in order to rescue his platoon sergeant and others trapped in the kill zone of an ambush. T.J. killed one enemy fighter and was still shooting his weapon even as he was struck down by enemy fire.
From an early age, Thomas J. “T.J.” Barbieri was always interested in military history. That interest eventually led him to enlist in the Army and become a Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. At the time of his death, he was a Specialist with the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Eventually, the Barbieris decided they wanted to do something as a family that would be a lasting testament to T.J. Given T.J.’s lifelong interest in the military and WWII history, they decided that recreating a WWII Army motorcycle would be a fitting tribute. Specialist Barbieri’s father and his sons Stephen, Matt, and David painstakingly assembled a motorcycle in the style of a World War II bike. It took them over nine months to complete. “When you lose someone, you always want to tell their story,” Barbieri Dad said. “When people see this bike, they start asking questions and I get to tell them about T.J.” Being a Soldier was something he loved doing, said his father. “He considered (his unit) a second family.”
To replicate the WWII-era Harley Davidson WLA bike, Thomas Barbieri and his three sons took a modern Harley and stripped it down. They modified some parts of the bike and replicated others to give it the look of a motorcycle from 65 years ago. When it was done, the Barbieris unveiled it for the first time for some of the Soldiers at Walter Reed. “The Soldiers seemed to love it.” For the Barbieris, the bike was a labor of love, and they have been compensated beyond measure for the time and effort that went into it. “There was a tremendous sense of gratification that we were doing something in remembrance of him,” Thomas Barbieri said.