RIP COL Van Barfoot, MOH WWII
Van Barfoot, a Medal of Honor recipient in World War II whose fight to fly an American flag outside his home 65 years later drew national attention, died on Friday in suburban Richmond, Va. He was 92.
The cause was a skull fracture and bleeding in the brain resulting from a fall two days earlier in front of his home in a subdivision in Henrico County, said his daughter, Margaret Nicholls.
Serving in the 45th Infantry Division, Sergeant Barfoot took part in the breakout from Italy’s Anzio beachhead.
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.
The American Legion covered the fight that Col Barfoot had with his Homeowner's Association back in 2009, both here on The Burn Pit, and on our website. As I said at the time:
I've been holding off posting this all day, despite the twenty emails or so I have received because I figured the Homeowners Association would pull their head out of their Fourth Point of Contact. Silly me. While you are at it, go join his Facebook support group! The man fought in 3 wars. This here would be almost a textbook example of not choosing your battle wisely. In fact, I can't imagine a more idiotic fight to wage.
"The association underestimated the fight left in this elderly veteran and now they have to contend with the determination and persistence of Col. Barfoot's 2.5 million friends in The American Legion," National Commander Clarence Hill said. "Col. Barfoot has hired legal counsel. The American Legion is prepared to help with the expenses and fight these disgraceful actions by the association. Where is the common sense here? Is this anyway to treat any American, much less a true hero like Col Barfoot?"
The flag is a symbol of our country," Hill said. "People should fly it proudly. That's all Col. Barfoot wants to do. If he were desecrating the flag, instead, the association couldn't do a thing to stop him. We proudly stand with Col. Barfoot and say ‘enough already!' Let him keep the flagpole and fly the flag as often as he wants. He certainly earned that right."
Calling the decision of the Sussex Square Homeowners’ Association Board to withdraw legal action against a WWII hero, “a great decision,” the leader of The American Legion congratulated all parties involved. "This is a victory for reason and I applaud the board for making the correct decision to permit this American hero to honor Old Glory in such a fitting way, every day, on his property,” said National Commander Clarence E. Hill. “I also commend Legionnaires and all Americans across the country who flooded Col. Barfoot, the association and The American Legion with letters, emails, phone calls and messages of support and tribute.” Because of the controversy involving the 90-year-old Medal of Honor recipient, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” Mckeon (R-CA) and Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) introduced a resolution, H. Res. 952, allowing Congressional Medal of Honor recipients to properly display the United States flag on their property at all times. “I thank the law firm of Marchant, Honey & Baldwin for their pro-bono efforts in resolving this issue. There is always room for discussion and solutions to be achieved within the system,” Hill added. “In this case, the homeowners’ association recognized the remarkable sacrifice and devotion of this true hero and acted wisely within the boundaries of their authority to do the right thing. We understand and appreciate the important role homeowners’ associations play in local communities. The American Legion encourages all homeowners to continue to properly display Old Glory.”