Terry Barnich was deputy director of the U.S. State Department’s Transition Assistance Office in Baghdad, Iraq. Mr. Barnich was killed by a roadside IED on Memorial Day.
Barnich’s job was to resurrect vital infrastructure in Iraq, including energy and telecom. He worked alongside Iraq’s Electricity Ministry, attempting to undo the damage done by Saddam Hussein. Increasing capacity for the people of Iraq was the foremost mission. In a phone call, Barnich is quoted as saying that “if all goes as planned, Iraquis will see twice more capacity this summer than last summer.” General David Patraeus wrote:
Tragically and ironically, his loss came in the week that Iraq once again broke its electricity production record.
At Terry’s funeral, the Minister of Electricity’s son presented Terry’s mother with a letter from his father, stating that Terry was like a brother to him. The American flag that flew about the U.S. Bagdad Embassy, and The Thomas Jefferson Star for Foreign Service was presented to the family.
In Barnich’s life before Iraq, he served as Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman from 1989 to 1992. He was chief counsel to former Governor Jim Thompson. Mr. Barnich took a leave-of-absence from his position as CEO of New Paradigm Resources Group before leaving for Iraq.
Rumors were that Barnich was planning to run for the U.S. Senate to fill the seat of Jack Ryan. Here’s some comments from Tom Roeser, Chairman of the Editorial Board for the Chicago Daily Observer:
In Illinois, Terry was known as a deeply engaged and serious student of public affairs and endowed with sagacity and a luminous wit. In fact when I heard the surprise that he had allowed his name to be entered in the lists of people the Illinois Republican State Central committee was considering to run for the U. S. Senate following the resignation of Jack Ryan, I became deeply supportive. Unfortunately he was not chosen: if he had, Terry would have run a brilliant campaign against Barack Obama.
He embodied everything the GOP was…and is still… looking for: deep understanding of the issues, articulateness, with an exceeding attractive personality and mien and superb legal training, a graduate of Fordham law school. It will interest some to know that Terry surmounted the beliefs of some establishmentarians in the GOP in that he told me often he was a pro-lifer which position would have come out in his own campaign. Always professional in his politics, he ran the primary portion of the Topinka campaign for governor, leaving after he steered her to the nomination. I wrote at the time that the Topinka campaign would miss him greatly. It did and it is my belief that her campaign in the general would not have failed had Terry stayed.
Chicago, Illinois and the nation have lost much with his death as well as the Republican party which could have derived inestimable benefit from the limitless gifts Terry had to offer if he had lived to return home.
This from TelephonyOnline, Craig Clausen, executive vice president and chief operating officer of New Paradigm Research Group:
What started as a short-term assignment turned into a much lengthier one, Craig Clausen said, because Barnich became so engaged in the work and so impressed by what the Iraqis were doing.
“He was energized by the progress they were making,” Clausen said. “He was just home three weeks ago, and he was talking about some of the things the Iraqis are doing, how they are leapfrogging us in terms of technology for things like how to prevent car theft, or how parents can monitor their children.”
Each time Barnich would prepare to leave Iraq, “something else would pop up,” Clausen said. But he was pretty certain he was going to come back at the end of June.
Terry had his own way of thinking, and he was willing to step out of the comfort zone, which is what he was doing in Iraq,” Clausen said. “He had tremendous respect for the Iraqis who were doing their own original thinking, as the founding fathers of the country, thinking outside the usual models.”
Mr. Barnich, 56, left behind his mother, Genevieve Ketel, his sister, Rochelle Barnich, who he was planning to walk down the aisle at her coming wedding and brother, Alain, and sister-in-law. Reports are that Barnich and Sheila Grace became engaged one week before his death.
Along with Terry Barnich, another U.S. soldier was killed, as well as a civilian contractor. Two soldiers were wounded. Unfortunately, I have not been able to identify these men.