PIQUA — When psychologist Terry Barrett, PhD, was researching on war veterans to help him understand his patients, he was surprised to find a rich history of war veterans from the Piqua area, in which he writes about in his book, “Remembering Douglas Eugene Dickey, USMC: Reaching the Finest and Most Noble Heights.”
Barrett, who counsels Vietnam veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Fargo, N.D., has come to find that there is a discomfort among them to talk about their own bravery when they served in the military. Barrett became curious as to what causes them to hesitate to acknowledge their own fortitude.
Barrett started his research by studying the history of veterans of the Civil War era and eventually grew interest in researching all other war veterans.
“What happened went beyond my original intention,” Barrett said, and wanted to bring back his findings to the therapy sessions to the veterans he worked with, but found a veteran from Rossburg and grew an interest in him, being Douglas Eugene Dickey.
Barrett’s book focuses on the biography of Dickey, but also touches base on the psychology behind bravery in war veterans.
“Part of the point of telling Doug’s story (is because) it’s a reflection of a lot of people…those individuals are not recognized for their own bravery,” Barrett said. “He represents all of them; the character of bravery.”
Dickey, being from Darke County, likely had family in Miami County, Barrett said, which led him to his research to some of the history of veterans in Miami County that are also included in the book.
“I was surprised of the Piqua men that died during World War II,” Barrett said, “It’s a large number.”
According to Barrett, the population during World War II in Piqua was of approximately 16,000, with at least 66 Piqua men who died in the war. Barrett gathered a lot of his findings on the Piqua veterans from Piqua Daily Call newspaper archives.
“That is a significant number of men to die in that population,” Barrett said. “Piqua stood out to me given the number of stories about those men. There are a lot of individuals who at least have a paragraph written about them (in the book).”
Some of the Piqua veterans mentioned in Barrett’s book are George Green, Medal of Honor recipient, Capt. Dominic Gentile, WWII pilot, and Vietnam Medal of Honor recipient William “Bill” Pitsenbarger. Barrett discussed about the process of Pitsenbarger’s bravery, and how it took years for it to be noticed.
“It is my belief that bravery like Bill’s is going to be remembered at some point,” Barrett said. It was 34 years that passed before Pitsenbarger’s family received his Medal of Honor, which was recognized by President Bill Clinton in 2000.
“That bravery can go unnoticed for that long until someone reads or talks about it,” Barrett said. “Usually what happens is likely (Dickey’s) commander wrote a recommendation that he received that medal. Recommendations have to go all the way up to the president…one commander after another write their own endorsement and has to be approved at every level of command.”
Barrett grew up in Cleveland and went to the College of Wooster and obtained his PhD in clinical psychology. He was in the Marine Corps for seven years and the North Dakota Air National Guard for 13 years. He currently teaches psychology at North Dakota State University and, as mentioned, councils Vietnam war veterans in Fargo, N.D.
Barrett’s book can be purchased online at Amazon.com.
Reach Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340.