Family Mourns Former Montgomery Police Officer, Air National Guardsman, War Veteran

A former Montgomery man was looking for not just a way out but a way up when he left our city.

On the way, he served our country as a police officer, a Navy man, as an Air Force mechanic, and he saw action in Iraq not once but three times.

His life is over, but not his legacy.  It's a legacy his family says should inspire others.

The family's tape player is showing an image and a time young Jermichael Barnett might remember best.

It's from Christmas 2006, and Michael Barnett was doing what he did best - work on something.

"He'd always strive go go higher," said Barnett's younger brother, Fred.

It seems Barnett had an itch only constant change could scratch. Right out of school, he joined the Navy, then local police.

Then he joined the Air Force and found himself fighting against Iraq, not once but three times.

"When the planes would come back, they'd come back to him because he worked on the planes, they'd be full of bullet holes, so he knew houw tough it was," Fred Barnett said.

In the past couple of years, Michael Barnett settled in the Atlanta area, working as an airplane mechanic for Lockheed Martin, and as a welder on the side.

When he wasn't working, he coached his son's baseball team.

"He loved being respected. He loved wearing a respectable uniform," said his brother.

It all came to a tragic end last Wednesday, when a driver turned left in front of Barnett's motorcycle.

He never had a chance to slow down.

"Thrown off the motorcycle and pronounced dead at the scene," said Mr. Barnett.

What bothers Fred Barnett most is that he was in Atlanta at the time, waiting for a plane to Ohio.

What if he would have asked his brother for a ride to the airport instead?

"He would have made arrangements to where he wouldn't have left at that particular point in time," said the younger man.

Now, while fighting that regret, Fred Barnett is trying to remember what his brother stood for most.

"He was always an overacheiver," he said.

In doing so, he's also teaching his brother's children the same work ethic.

Michael Barnett hoped to fly the same planes he worked on as a national guardsman. He was enrolled in Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Atlanta, pursuing a professional flying career.

Barnett's funeral is set for Wednesday at Ross Clayton Funeral home. His family is creating a trust fund for his children.