Paul Barton was born on May 27, 1911, in Plymouth, Vermont. He enlisted in the Vermont National Guard on February 11, 1929, and served until June 26, 1930, when he received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. Barton entered West Point on July 1, 1930, and graduated with a commission as a 2d Lt of Infantry on June 12, 1934. Lt Barton served with the 26th Infantry Regiment and then the 35th Infantry Regiment before attending the Infantry School Officer Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, from 1936 to 1937. His next assignment was with the 8th Infantry Regiment, followed by pilot training from 1939 to 1940. He was awarded his pilot wings at Kelly Field, Texas, on May 11, 1940. After serving as a base commander in Utah and Washington, Col Barton commanded the 483rd Bomb Group in Washington and Florida, and then deployed to Italy in combat from March 1944 to May 1945. During this time he flew 35 combat missions in B-17 Flying Fortress bombers. Col Barton returned to the U.S. at the end of the war, and served as a base commander in Louisiana before returning to Europe in 1946 as commander of the 305th Bomb Group in Germany. He next served as commander of the Air Force Depot at Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, before returning to the U.S. in December 1947. His next assignment was as commander of the 22nd Bomb Group at Smokey Hill AFB, Kansas, from January to July 1948. Col Barton attended Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from July 1948 to July 1949, and then served as commander of the Officer Candidate School at Lackland AFB, Texas, and then Deputy Commander of Lackland AFB, from July 1949 to August 1952. He attended National War College from August 1952 to June 1953, and then served as deputy commander of Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, from June to October 1953. Gen Barton served as commander of Wright-Patterson AFB from October 1953 to September 1957, followed by service as commander of the Northern Air Material Area, Pacific, at Tachikawa AB, Japan, from September 1957 to August 1960. His final assignment was at Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon, where he served from August 1960 until his retirement from the Air Force on August 1, 1964. Paul Barton died on May 13, 1985.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For gallantry in action in aerial flight. On 15 April 1944, Col. Barton led his Group of B-17 type aircraft on a mission to destroy a strategically important enemy rail center in Yugoslavia. Although a barrage of heavy, accurate, intense flak bursts over the target could be seen clearly from the beginning of the bombing run, with exceptional leadership and great coolness and judgement, Col. Barton continued to lead his formation in straight and level flight to accomplish a successful bombing. Suffering intense pain from a severe would caused by a direct hit from a burst of enemy flak over the target, Col. Barton, with great personal courage, refused first aid, maintained the integrity of his formation and led it in such a manner that a normal rally and let down from the target area was accomplished allowing badly damaged airplanes to hold their positions in the Group formation until out of enemy territory. By his exceptional leadership, skill and devotion to duty, together with his courage and personal example, Col. Barton has reflected great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States of America.