Van T Barfoot – Medal of Honor
(Received in an email from a friend – I had almost forgotten him.)
May he Rest In Peace.Van T. Barfoot died at the age of 92 on 2 March 2012. God Bless you, Sir.
Remember the guy who wouldn’t take the flag pole down on his Virginia property a while back? You might remember the news story several months ago about a crotchety old man in Virginia who defied his local Homeowners Association, and refused to take down the flagpole on his property along with the large American flag he flew on it.
Just who was this old man? On June 15, 1919, Van T. Barfoot was born in Edinburg, Texas . That probably didn’t make news back then. But twenty-five years later, on May 23, 1944, near Carano, Italy , that same Van T. Barfoot, who had in 1940 enlisted in the U.S. Army, set out alone to flank German machine gun positions from which gunfire was raining down on his fellow soldiers. His advance took him through a minefield but having done so, he proceeded to single-handedly take out three enemy machine gun positions, returning with 17 prisoners of war. And if that weren’t enough for a day’s work, he later took on and destroyed three German tanks sent to retake the machine gun positions.
What did make news was his Neighborhood Homeowners Association’s quibble with how the 90-year-old veteran chose to fly the American flag outside his suburban Virginia home. It seems the HOA rules said it was OK to fly a flag on a house-mounted bracket, but, for decorum, items such as Barfoot’s 21-foot flagpole were “unsuitable” Van Barfoot had been denied a permit for the pole, but erected it anyway and was facing court action unless he agreed to take it down.
Then the HOA story made national TV, and the Neighborhood Association rethought its position and agreed to indulge this aging hero who dwelt among them. “In the time I have left”, he said to the Associated Press, “I plan to continue to fly the American flag without interference.” As well he should.
And if any of his neighbors had taken a notion to contest him further, they might have done well to read his Medal of Honor citation first. Seems it indicates Mr. Van Barfoot wasn’t particularly good at backing down.
Van T. Barfoot’s Medal of Honor citation is listed with the National Medal of Honor Society, Second Lieutenant Van T. Barfoot, 157th Infantry, 45th Infantry……. It follows here:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 23 May 1944, near Carano, Italy. With his platoon heavily engaged during an assault against forces well entrenched on commanding ground, 2d Lt. Barfoot (then Tech. Sgt.) moved off alone upon the enemy left flank. He crawled to the proximity of 1 machinegun nest and made a direct hit on it with a hand grenade, killing 2 and wounding 3 Germans. He continued along the German defense line to another machinegun emplacement, and with his tommygun killed 2 and captured 3 soldiers. Members of another enemy machinegun crew then abandoned their position and gave themselves up to Sgt. Barfoot. Leaving the prisoners for his support squad to pick up, he proceeded to mop up positions in the immediate area, capturing more prisoners and bringing his total count to 17. Later that day, after he had reorganized his men and consolidated the newly captured ground, the enemy launched a fierce armored counterattack directly at his platoon positions. Securing a bazooka, Sgt. Barfoot took up an exposed position directly in front of 3 advancing Mark VI tanks. From a distance of 75 yards 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 disabled tank dismounted, Sgt. Barfoot killed 3 of them with his tommygun. He continued onward into enemy terrain and destroyed a recently abandoned German fieldpiece with a demolition charge placed in the breech. While returning to his platoon 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, and aggressive determination in the face of pointblank fire are a perpetual inspiration to his fellow soldiers.