Austin Hill Barnett, Jr., was born in Washington, Georgia, on August 15, 1918, son of Austin H. and Mamie Claire (Chapman) Barnett. He attended Washington High School and the Marion (Alabama) Military Institute, prior to entering the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from his native state in 1936. Graduated on June 6, 1940, he was disqualified for commission in the Line of the Regular Navy due to poor eyesight. However, he accepted a commission as Ensign in the US Naval Reserve. In April 1942 he was selected for a commission in the Supply Corps of the Regular Navy and subsequently advanced in rank, attaining that of Captain, to date from April 1, 1959.
As an Ensign in the US Naval Reserve, he reported in June 1940 as an Instructor in the Department of Mathematics at the Naval Academy and a year later transferred to the Department of Ordnance, where he served as an Instructor until March 1942. He next had instruction at the Naval Supply Corps School, Boston, Massachusetts and from September 1942 until February 1943, served as Supply, Commissary and Disbursing Officer at the US Naval Receiving Barracks, Auckland, New Zealand.
He established the Advanced Base Supply Depot, Tulagi, British Solomon Islands and served as Supply Officer there until May 1944. In June he joined the USS Marblehead as Supply Officer and while attached to that cruiser participated in the invasion of Southern France in 1944. The Marblehead was decommissioned at the Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in November 1945 and he was detached for duty as Assistant Supply Officer and Senior Assistant to the Supply Officer at the Naval Air Technical Training Center, Memphis, Tennessee.
Between August 1948 and March 1950 he was in command of the Naval Supply Depot, Argentina, Newfoundland, after which he had duty as Director of the Surplus Materials Division in the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, Navy Department, Washington, DC. In that capacity, he was in charge of screening excess materials against the Department of Defense Requirements and administered Navy sales of surplus. He remained there until June 1954, when he reported as Special Assistant to the Comptroller at the Naval Shipyard, Charleston, South Carolina. There he also served as Assistant to the Comptroller for Fiscal Matters.
He attended the Naval Warfare I course at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, from August 1956 until June 1957. He next served as Supply Officer on board the USS Fulton and also had duty as Supply Officer of Submarine Squadron TEN, which was supporting the first of the nuclear submarines. In February 1959 he was designated Commanding Officer of the Naval Forms and Publications Supply Office, Byron, Georgia.
Captain Barnett has the American Defense Service Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; the American Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; and the National Defense Service Medal.