Ernest Richard Barnes was born in Braham, Minnesota, on January 4, 1906, son of Fred R. and Jennie Mae (Ellis) Barnes. He attended Parker Junior College, was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts from Asbury College in 1929, and in 1932 received the degree of Bachelor of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. Ordained Deacon in 1932, he was ordained Elder in 1933 by Bishop Connell of the Central New York Conference of the Methodist Church, and subsequently served as a Minister of that church at Erieville, East Syracuse and Elmira, New York.
Appointed Lieutenant (junior grade) in the Chaplain Corps of the US Naval Reserve in July 1941, he was called to active duty in September of that year. Through subsequent advancement and his transfer to the Chaplain Corps of the US Navy, he attained the rank of Captain, ChC, USN, to date from July 1, 1957. He was transferred to the Retired List of the Navy in that rank, by reason of physical disability incurred in naval service, effective January 19, 1961.
After indoctrination at the Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia, in September and October 1941, he served for three months as a Chaplain in the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Department, Washington, DC, being on duty there at the outbreak of World War II in December 1941. In January 1942 he joined the USS American Legion, and served as Protestant Chaplain on board that transport, operating in the Pacific, until July 1943. He was next assigned to the Naval Air Station, Moffett Field, California, then from November 1944 until September 1945 was Protestant Chaplain the US Navy Fleet Hospital #115. While in the latter assignment, he designed a Hospital Chapel, one of the largest in the Pacific, its seating capacity 380, for that Hospital. Constructed by Seabees, the Chapel was dedicated on August 29, 1945.
He served as Chaplain on the Staff of Commander, Marianas from September 1945 to February 1946, and, after a period of terminal leave and his transfer to the regular Navy, reported in May 1946 to the USS Catoctin for duty as Chaplain. At that time he was assigned additional duty as Force Chaplain on the Staff of Commander Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet, and from September of that year until April 1948 he was Chaplain of the USS Taconic, while still serving as Force Chaplain on the Staff of the Commander Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet.
From May 1948 until August 1950 he had shore duty as Chaplain at the Marine Barracks, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, after which he was at sea, this time as Chaplain of the USS Philippine Sea during hostilities against North Korean and Chinese Communist forces in the Korean Area. He is entitled to the Ribbon for the Navy Unit Commendation awarded that aircraft carrier for heroic service during that period. When detached from the Philippine Sea, he reported to the First Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, to serve for six months as Division Chaplain.
In November 1951 he became Assistant District Chaplain, Eleventh Naval District, Headquarters at San Diego, California. When detached in February 1954 he was ordered to the Staff of Commander Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, Headquarters at Coronado, California. In August 1956 he was again assigned to the First Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, serving this time at Headquarters at Camp Pendleton, California. Two years later he was transferred to the Staff of the Commandant, Eighth Naval District, Headquarters at New Orleans, Louisiana. He remained there until relieved of all active duty pending his retirement in January 1961.
In addition to the Ribbon for the Navy Unit Commendation, Captain Barnes has the American Defense Service Medal; the American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, with operation stars; the World War II Victory Medal; Korean Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; and the United Nations Service Medal.