I was conflicted on telling this story because there are issues, such as the heroine living on a plantation in SC and owning slaves. I didn’t want to celebrate or honor owning another living breathing human being, but human history in general is messy and hard. We’ll never get to tell the real history of America, or the world, or women in the military if we avoid the uncomfortable and difficult subjects. So, I decided to tell this story to honor her bravery during the Revolutionary War, because we wouldn’t be where we are today without her, warts and all.
Margaret Catharine Moore, known as Kate Moore Barry in most of the histories, was born in Anson, SC which is near Spartanburg, SC on November 29, 1752. She was the eldest of 10 children born to Professor Charles Moore and Mary Moore. The Moore’s were one of the first families to migrate to the Piedmont area of South Carolina. They would later own Walnut Grove Plantation. The plantation was built in 1765 on a land grant given by King George III, who will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of his love. The property is located in Roebuck in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Charles Moore was a school teacher and used the 3,000-acre (12 km2) plantation as a farm. Some of their descendants still live in the area.
Today, tours are given throughout the Manor as well as the other houses, including a schoolhouse, a wheat house, and several other structures.
In 1767, when Kate was 15, she married Captain Andrew Barry on the Walnut Grove Plantation. Some sources said they lived on Walnut Grove, some said the settled on the other side of the Tyger River about 2 miles from Walnut Grove. Either way they made their home around Spartanburg, SC had 10 children (possibly 11 depending on the source).
Kate Barry was an excellent horsewoman, and she was very familiar with the wilderness and trails around the Walnut Grove plantation. These skills would later become the stuff of legend.
When the Revolutionary War broke out in 1776, Kate volunteered as a scout for patriot forces SC. Her scouting missions were carried out mostly in the portion of Spartanburg County drained by the three Tyger Rivers. Her husband, Andrew, her brother, Thomas Moore, and several brothers-in-law were members of the patriot forces. It was not unusual for Kate or her slave “Uncle Cato” to mount their horses, ride to the patriots’ encampment, and warn her husband and the troops of impending danger.
In the winter of 1781, Kate acted as a voluntary scout for General Daniel Morgan and she gathered patriots to send on to him.
Brigadier General Daniel Morgan was born in either 1735 or 1736, depending on the source. He was one of the most respected battlefield tacticians of the American Revolutionary War of 1775–1783, he later commanded troops during the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791–1794.
He was born in New Jersey to Welsh immigrants and settled in Winchester, Virginia. He became an officer of the Virginia militia and recruited a company of riflemen at the start of the Revolutionary War.
General Morgan led the Continental Army to victory in the Battle of Cowpens. After the war, Morgan retired from the army and developed a large estate. He was recalled to duty in 1794 to help suppress the Whiskey Rebellion, and commanded a portion of the army that remained in Western Pennsylvania after the rebellion. A member of the Federalist Party, Morgan twice ran for the United States House of Representatives, winning election to the House in 1796. He retired from Congress in 1799 and died on July 6, 1802.
The Battle of Cowpens was a battle that was fought on January 17, 1781 near the town of Cowpens, South Carolina, between Continental forces under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan and British forces under Lieutenant Colonel Sir Banastre Tarleton, as part of the campaign in the Carolinas, which is now North and South Carolina. The battle was a turning point in the American reconquest of South Carolina from the British.
General Morgan’s forces conducted a double envelopment of Tarleton’s forces, the only double envelopment of the war.
The double envelopment, or the pincer movement, is a military maneuver in which forces simultaneously attack both flanks (sides) of an enemy formation.
A full pincer movement leads to the attacking army facing the enemy in front, on both flanks, and in the rear. If attacking pincers link up in the enemy’s rear, the enemy is encircled. Such battles often end in surrender or destruction of the enemy force.
Tarleton’s force of 1000 British troops were set against 2000 troops under General Morgan. General Morgan’s forces had only 20 killed and 69 wounded. Tarleton’s force was almost completely eliminated with almost 300 casualties and about 550 members of his force captured or missing, with Tarleton himself and only the remaining less than 200 British troops escaping.
A small force of the Continental Army under the command of General Morgan had marched to the west of the Catawba River, in order to forage for supplies and raise the morale of local Colonial sympathizers. The British had received incorrect reports that Morgan’s army was planning to attack the important strategic fort of Ninety-Six, held by American Loyalists to the British Crown and located in the west of the Carolinas. The British considered Morgan’s army a threat to their left flank. General Charles Cornwallis dispatched cavalry (dragoons) commander Tarleton to defeat Morgan’s forces. Upon learning General Morgan’s army was not at Ninety-Six, Tarleton, bolstered by British reinforcements, set off in hot pursuit of the Continental detachment.
General Morgan made a stand near the Broad River. He selected a position on two low hills in open woodland, with the expectation that the aggressive Tarleton would make a headlong assault without pausing to devise a more intricate plan. He deployed his army in three main lines. Tarleton’s army, after exhaustive marching, reached the field malnourished and heavily fatigued. Tarleton attacked immediately; however, the American defense-in-depth absorbed the impact of the British attack. The British lines lost their cohesion as they hurried after the retreating Americans. When Morgan’s army went on the offensive, it wholly overwhelmed Tarleton’s force.
Tarleton’s brigade was wiped out as an effective fighting force, and, coupled with the British defeat at the Battle of Kings Mountain in the northwest corner of South Carolina, this action compelled Cornwallis to pursue the main southern Continental army into North Carolina, leading to the Battle of Guilford Court House, and Cornwallis’s eventual defeat at the Siege of Yorktown in Virginia in October 1781.
In the opinion of John Marshall, “Seldom has a battle, in which greater numbers were not engaged, been so important in its consequences as that of Cowpens.”
General Morgan would not have been able to succeed in the Battle of Cowpens without the help of Kate Barry. Kate’s information that she passed on from being a spy and a messenger allowed General Morgan to pull off the double envelopment, or pincer, maneuver led to the victory at the Battle of Cowpen and set of the dominoes of British defeat in the Revolutionary war.
She received several medals for her brave work and her intelligence as both a messenger and a spy.
She died in September of 1823 and was buried next to her husband Andrew in a family cemetery.
The name of Kate Barry is also surrounded by a tradition of other heroic deeds. In one of these stories, Kate heard Tory soldiers coming across the Tyger River near her father’s house. She tied her two-year-old daughter Catherine to the bedpost and rode to her husband’s unit for help.
In another story, the Tories (Americans who supported the British) came to her house and demanded information about the whereabouts of her husband and his troops. When she refused to give them this information, the Tories tied her up and whipped her three times with a leash.
In another incident, Kate Barry barely escaped her Tory enemies as she swam her horse across the rising waters of the Pacolet River to safety.
Today, the spirit of Kate Barry lives on at her restored plantation home at Walnut Grove.
Recently, a portion of Highway 29, from East Main Street to the turnoff for I-85 in Cowpens (thought to be the trail she followed) designated as “Kate Barry Boulevard.”
COL Regina Aune
Regina C. Aune was born in Lakewood, Ohio, 1944. She graduated in 1969 from Saint John College in Cleveland, Ohio after earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
She then joined the United States Air Force in 1972 and completed Flight Nurse training at Brooks AFB, Texas in 1974.
In 1975 First Lieutenant Aune is stationed in the Philippines. While she is there, in April 1975, Operation BABYLIFT is finally approved by President Ford. This operation was set up to rescue the Vietnamese orphans that were thought to be in immediate danger from the advancing forces from North Vietnam. Whether or not this was the appropriate decision for these children or not is still debatable depending on whose opinion we look at. But what happens on this first flight is clear.
First Lieutenant Regina Claire Aune, was the medical crew director that would oversee about 250-270 orphans most of which were sick and or injured. These poor babies had been through so much in their short lives already. The flight was packed with babies, about 50 civilians and 5 additional medical personnel when it left for Clark AB in the Philippines.
About 15 minutes into the flight, an explosion in the plane forced the pilots to make an emergency landing. Short of the runway, the C-5 slide and broke apart. The explosion was caused when the locks of the rear loading ramp failed. LT Aune was thrown the length of the upper deck.
“When the cargo doors blew, I could see the South China Sea through the hole in the back of the aircraft,” -Aune
Once the aircraft stopped moving, Lieutenant Aune and the rest of the survivors began evacuating the children. These children had to be carried away from the reckage to the rescue helicopters.
After she had helped to carry about eighty babies, LT Aune was exhausted. The articles writin about this say that the first officer she saw, she asked them relieve her of her duties and just passed out.
She is transported to the hospital and find she had many different injuries, including a broken foot, broken leg and broken vertebra in her back.
In total approximately 138 people were killed in the crash, mostly children.
Operation BABYLIFT officially ended on 13 May 1975, evacuating close to 3,000 orphans out of Vietnam.
In 1976, Aune was awarded for her incredible and selfless act during that first flight of Operation BABYLIFT. She was the first woman to ever receive the Cheney Award. The Cheney Award was established in 1927 and is awarded “to an airman for an act of valor, extreme fortitude or self-sacrifice in a humanitarian interest, performed in connection with aircraft, but not necessarily of a military nature.“-
After this event, she continued to serve her country, earning a Master of Science in Nursing in 1979 and then a Doctorate of Philosophy four years later.
Shaping the future of military medicine, Aune served as Chair of the Department of Nursing Research, Commandant of the Graduate School of Nursing and Deputy Brigade Commander at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
Aune commanded various Medical Operations Squadrons, and Medical Groups during her career. She was stationed in, Charleston AFB, , Kirtland AFB, Lackland AFB, Kuwait during of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
In 2016 Retired Col Aune shared a story during a womens’s history month event in San Antonio, Texas that really stood out to me. She talked about this time when she was a major and had been assigned as the director of her entire medical unit. This meant that she had colonels, full bird colonels reporting to her reporting to her. You can imagine how happy they may have been with that set up.
One colonel who was clearly distressed about this refused to work with her because she was not only junior to him but a nurse and a woman. Insert eye roll here.
Glad to report they did eventually end up getting along as she won him over through her leadership style and dedication to the organization regardless of how anyone personally felt about her. – Almost like a fairytale ending for these two. This is something that is echoed throughout life right? It seems like there will always be people who have to prove themselves worthy to someone with an overinflated sense of self. Maybe just maybe that day will come where it is no longer based on gender or race.
Colonel Regina Aune retired from the Air Force in 2007 after 28 years of service. In 2007 she was also inducted into the Airlift/Tanker Association Hall of Fame.
One of the surviving children from that flight reached out to Col Aune years later and they ended up writing a book about their experience. Aryn Lockhart and Col. Regina Aune’s book is called, Operation Babylift: Mission Accomplished.
Regina Aune has talked multiple times about how connecting with the survivors of the crash has helped her process the trauma. Even just last year at an event for PTSD awareness she commented on how it is sometimes still difficult for her to talk about.
Mental health is important. Appropriate and effective mental health treatment isn’t for the weak. The mindset that getting help is some how for those who aren’t strong enough to hold it together is garbage. Bottling up and ignoring trauma and pain only cause problems to magnify later down the road. There are so many more options out there now than there was in the past. If you are suffering, please reach out to someone. You are not alone. You may be surprised to find out how many people around you have very similar feelings and are just too afraid to bring it up, or maybe don’t feel like it is appropriate to bring up.
The final Salute was established to identify and meet the unique needs of homeless women Veterans.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office reported in 2011 that “More than 60 percent of surveyed Grant Per Diem (GPD) programs that serve homeless women veterans did not house children, and most programs that did house children had restrictions on the ages or numbers of children. This lack of housing for women with children is a significant barrier to accessing veteran housing. Limited housing for women and their children puts these families at risk of remaining homeless”.