HED: Anniversary of son’s death in Iraq reopens wounds for Mayo family

By Danza Johnson

Daily Journal

TUPELO – It’s been exactly one year since a uniformed soldier showed up at the Mayos’ door in Ecru to deliver the news that Pvt. Barry Mayo had been killed while serving in Iraq.

That anniversary has caused her family to have to relive that day all over again, says his stepmother, Becky.

“It’s been a long, hard year,” she said. “We really miss Barry and are still coming to grips with him being gone. He was a great boy and we all were very close.

“Every day living without him has been a struggle, but we are trying to pull through it.”

Mayo was killed March 5 in Baqubah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device exploded near his unit. Two other soldiers were killed in that explosion.

Mayo is one of three Northeast Mississippi soldiers killed in Iraq since 2005. Cpl. Blake Mounce, also of Ecru, was killed July 14, 2005, and Algoma native John Self was killed by a roadside bomb May 14, 2005.

Mayo, who had taken care of Barry since he was 3 years old, said her husband, John, and son Andy are still taking it very hard.

“John has been very sad and emotional all week,” she observed. “He and Barry and Andy were very close, so John has a lot on his mind right now. Everything reminds him of Barry and it’s hard.”

Unlike many families who lose a loved one in Iraq, the Mayos got a chance to see Barry shortly before he died. Barry came home to visit his family during his birthday in late February.

“I remember John was outside working on a wood fence during the time Barry was home,” said Mayo. “I’m not a very good cook and Barry asked for a homemade taco pie. He knows how I am about cooking, but he and I worked in the kitchen together to make the pie. After a while he went out and helped his dad with the fence before he left. That was the last time we saw him.”

The Mayos have since moved from the house in Ecru, but they still carry both good and painful memories with them.

“Every day is a constant reminder,” said John. “When I walk in the living room and see the flag that laid across his body before they put his casket in the ground, or the Medal of Honor he received, it reminds me of Barry not being here.”

Barry’s biological mother, Kim Yarbrough, said the past few days have been very tough for her and her husband as well.

“I have tried to move past what happened, but this anniversary date really brings it back,” said Yarbrough. “Barry was my baby and will always be my baby and you never heal from losing a child.

“I was angry at God for a long time and even refused to pray, but I thought one day that at least God gave me Barry for 21 years. That’s better than never having him at all.”

Contact Daily Journal reporter Danza Johnson at 678-1583 or

Click video to hear audio