He goes by the name “Shorty,” but the truth is, he’s larger than life. “Painting our Town Proud” is Shorty Barnett, lifelong Dripping Springs resident and proud American Veteran. Whether you’re 7 or 70, chances are you know Shorty. That’s because Shorty has made it his life’s mission to share his military pride with local schoolchildren, seniors and everyone in between.
Shorty’s story begins in 1963. With his father’s permission and a promise to make his hometown proud, Shorty joined the Navy at age 17. He was promptly sent to Vietnam where he served on the destroyer, USS Rupertus. Among his many assignments was the dangerous task of intercepting enemy fishing boats and freighters carrying contraband. His ability to search tight spaces earned him the nickname “Shorty,” to which he still answers today.
Shorty’s military experience inspired immense pride for his country and motivated him to share his story upon returning home. Over the years, he’s turned his anecdotes into action, founding the local VFW and American Legion chapters with his longtime comrade, Gary Hale. The two men have spent decades serving as board members, recruiting Veterans and growing the membership. And, when chapter members ran out of building space to meet, it was Shorty who led the charge to find a permanent home.
His mission caught the attention of local resident and daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, Kathryn Chandler. Thanks to her efforts, the generosity of dozens of sponsors, and the support of the local community, Shorty’s dream has become reality. Patriots’ Hall, a 10-acre retreat for current and former military members and their families is now under construction. And phase 1, a meeting space for members of the VFW and American Legion, is just weeks away from opening.
At 76, Shorty’s dedication to his hometown and the Veterans who make it great is unwavering. He continues to “Paint our Town Proud,” by spreading the word about Patriots’ Hall and sharing messages of patriotism and pride for our community. But among all his accomplishments, he’ll tell you he’s most proud of his family. Married for 55 years (and three months), Shorty says he and wife Pat are “still happy and talking to each other.” They also have three sons, two of whom also live in Dripping Springs with their families.
Despite recent health issues, Shorty keeps a schedule that would exhaust most. When asked what inspires him to “keep going,” he simply says: “This community is the best. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. God bless this city, state and nation.”
Shorty Barnett, we salute YOU for painting our town PROUD!