On June 15, 1919, Van T. Barfoot was born in Edinburg,
probably didn't make much news back then. His grandmother was a Choctaw --
hence the unusual name
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 year (December, 2009) 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.
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 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 tommy gun 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 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."
If you got this email and didn't pass it on - guess what - you deserve to get your butt kicked! I sent this to you, because I didn't want to get mine kicked.
WE LIVE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE, ONLY BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE!
For more on Van Barfoot, click here for the Wikipedia article
An update on the flag pole squabble:
When the Richmond TImes-Dispatch ran the article on the flag pole squabble last December, they asked readers for their opinion, i.e., should he be allowed to fly the flag anyway he wanted and keep his "illegal" flagpole. 147,171 people responded; 96% said YES
Virginia Senator Richard Stuart (rightly angered by the homeowner's association) proposed a bill in the Virginia state legislature supporting Col Barfoot's (and any other Virginia homeowner) right to display the American flag as per Federal guidelines. The bill unanimously passed (Feb, 2010). Click here for details
In a related story (about the same time), residents of an apartment complex in Albany, Oregon were told they could not fly the American flag. The "ban" was lifted a few day later (see this)