Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Van T. Barfoot

Remember this man?

 On June 15, 1919, Van T. Barfoot was born in Edinburg , Tx -- probably didn't make much news back then.

Twenty-five years later, on May 23, 1944, near   Carano , Italy , Van T. Barfoot,
who had enlisted in the Army in 1940, set out to flank German machine gun
positions from which fire was coming down on his fellow soldiers. He advanced
through a minefield, took out three enemy machine gun positions and returned
with 17 prisoners of war.

If that wasn't enough for a day's work, he later took on and destroyed three German tanks sent to retake the machine gun positions.

That probably didn't make much news either, given the scope of the war, but it did earn Van T. Barfoot, who retired as a colonel after also serving in  Korea and Vietnam , a Congressional Medal of Honor.

What did make news last week was a neighborhood association's quibble with how the 90-year-old veteran chose to fly the American flag outside his suburban Virginia home. Seems the rules said a flag could be flown on a house-mounted
bracket, but,  for decorum, items such as Barfoot's 21-foot flagpole were unsuitable.

He had been denied a permit for the pole, erected it anyway and was facing court action if he didn't take it down. Since the story made national TV, the neighborhood association has rethought its position and agreed to indulge this old hero who dwells among them.

"In the time I have left, I plan to continue to fly the American flag without
interference," Barfoot told The Associated Press.


As well he should.

And if any of his neighbors still takes a notion to contest him, they might want to read his Medal of Honor citation.  It indicates he's not real good at backing down.
This 1944 Medal of Honor citation, listed with the National Medal of Honor Society, is for Second Lieutenant Van T. Barfoot, 157th Infantry, 45th Infantry:

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyondthe call of duty on 23 May 1944, near   Carano ,   Italy . With his platoon heavilyengaged during an assault against forces well entrenched on commandingground, 2d Lt. Barfoot moved off alone upon the enemy left flank. He crawledto the proximity of 1 machinegun nest and made a direct hit on it with a handgrenade, killing 2 and wounding 3 Germans. He continued along the Germandefense line to another machinegun emplacement, and with his tommygunkilled 2 and captured 3 soldiers. Members of another enemy machinegun crewthen abandoned their position and gave themselves up to Sgt. Barfoot. Leavingthe prisoners for his support squad to pick up, he proceeded to mop up positionsin the immediate area, capturing more prisoners and bringing his total count to17. Later that day, after he had reorganized his men and consolidated the newlycaptured ground, the enemy launched a fierce armored counterattack directly athis platoon positions. Securing a bazooka, Sgt. Barfoot took up an exposedposition directly in front of 3 advancing Mark VI tanks. From a distance of 75yards his first shot destroyed the track of the leading tank, effectively disabling it,while the other 2 changed direction toward the flank. As the crew of the disabledtank dismounted, Sgt. Barfoot killed 3 of them with his tommygun. He continuedonward into enemy terrain and destroyed a recently abandoned Germanfieldpiece with a demolition charge placed in the breech. While returning to hisplatoon position, Sgt. Barfoot, though greatly fatigued by his Herculean efforts,assisted 2 of his seriously wounded men 1,700 yards to a position of safety.Sgt. Barfoot's extraordinary heroism, demonstration of magnificent valor, andaggressive determination in the face of point blank fire are a perpetualinspiration to his fellow soldiers."

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