Wednesday, March 3, 2010

An American Hero

2nd Lt. Van T. Barfoot

Head east from Carthage on Mississippi 16 toward Philadelphia . After a
few miles a sign says you're in Edinburg. It's a good thing the sign's there, because there's no other way to tell.

On June 15, 1919, Van Thomas Barfoot was born in Edinburg -- 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.

Van T. Barfoot's Congressional Medal of Honor

What did make news was the Sussex Squares Neighborhood Association's quibble with how the 90-year-old veteran chose to fly the American flag outside his suburban Richmond, VA 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.

Col. Barfoot's Flag!

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.

Col. Van Thomas Barfoot
Medal of Honor

Van T. Barfoot's Medal of Honor citation:

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 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 moved off alone upon the enemy left flank. He crawled to the proximity of 1 machine gun 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 tommy gun killed 2 and captured 3 soldiers. Members of another enemy machine gun 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 tommy gun. 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 point blank fire are a perpetual inspiration to his fellow soldiers.

The above was sent to me in an email a few days ago. I remember hearing the story on the news. It took the threat of a court battle and the support many thousands throughout America to finally convince the SSNA to drop their suit, which they did on Dec. 8, 2009.

Col Van T. Barfoot

All I can say is "God bless Col. Barfoot"! Our country needs many more like him; modern day heroes who will stand for what is right. Shame on the Sussex Squares Neighborhood Association for insulting Col. Barfoot and the American Flag in this manner!

If you see a Veteran or current Service Member on the street, please take the time to stop and say Thanks; it is their sacrifice that secured your freedom to walk the streets of America!


Long may she wave!


Constance said...

What a story! The History/Gemnealogy buff in me is loving this! Some people are so legalistic and petty that they have lost all common sense! I think these people should be made to sit through "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers" until they return to their senses!

Mrs. Mac said...

This was so nice of you to repost this article ... I remember hearing about the story last year. Good for him! And for all the men and women serving in our armed forces past and present.

Pam said...

I hadn't heard this story before, but good for him for standing up for what he believes in. I'm glad he got to keep his flag.

Anonymous said...

this is an answer t your e-mail.yes,it is fabulas watching God work in your own's purly romantic.he's so cool.....Ann

Trish said...

I remember seeing this story on television...made me so mad!!! Thank you Colonel Barfoot because of men like you we have the privilege to fly Old Glory...long may she wave.
And because you are a Hero she is waving Association's gonna beat you!
Thank you Diane for reminding me of Colonel Barfoot!

Felisol said...

Dear Diane,
Thank you for forwarding this history all the way to Norway.
I felt both moved and proud reading the story of Col Van T. Barfoot.
A hero after my heart.
Long may his memory live.
From Felisol