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Greenlief Haskell Barney was born in Augusta, Maine, on July 21, 1914, son of Mrs. Leta H. Barney and the late Mr. Barney. He was appointed Midshipman from Nebraska, and entered the US Naval Academy on July 25, 1932. Graduated with the Class of 1936 on June 4 of that year, he was found physically disqualified for commission, and his resignation was accepted under honorable conditions on August 5, 1936. On December 3, 1941 he was appointed Lieutenant (jg) in the US Naval Reserve, and he subsequently was promoted, to Lieutenant on October 1, 1942, and to Lieutenant Commander on October 17, 1944. He served throughout the World War II period, from January 1942 until February 1946, at the US Naval Shipyard, Boston, Massachusetts. When released from active duty he returned to Attleboro, Massachusetts, where as a civilian he was Metallurgical Engineer with the DE Makepeace Company.
Lieutenant Commander Barney has the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.