15 Jun 1919–2 Mar 2012
ZUI this article from the Washington Post:
Retired Army Col. Van T. Barfoot, who received the Medal of Honor during World War II and decades later drew national attention when he fought successfully against his homeowners association to keep a flagpole flying the Stars and Stripes in his front yard, died March 2 at a hospital in Richmond. He was 92.
Col. Barfoot grew up on a Mississippi cotton plantation before enlisting in the Army infantry in 1940. By the end of his career in 1974, he had served in three wars and received the military’s highest award for valor — the Medal of Honor — for leading an assault on German troops during World War II.
Van Thurman Barfoot was born June 15, 1919, in Edinburg, Miss. He later changed his name to Van Thomas Barfoot.
In the Army, Col. Barfoot worked his way up the enlisted ranks before receiving a field commission during World War II.
Col. Barfoot served in the Korean War and later in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. His other military decorations included the Silver Star; two awards of the Legion of Merit; the Bronze Star; three awards of the Purple Heart; and 11 awards of the Air Medal.
His wife of 48 years, the former Norma Louise Davis, died in 1992. Survivors include four children, Margaret Nicholls of Richmond, Van T. Barfoot Jr. of Bremerton, Wash., James D. Barfoot of Lake Tapps, Wash., and C. Odell Barfoot of Huntsville, Tex.; a sister; 12 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
In 2010, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) signed legislation inspired by Col. Barfoot that prohibited homeowners associations from barring the proper display of the U.S. flag.
There are now 82 living Medal of Honor recipients.
VAN THOMAS BARFOOT
Second Lieutenant (then Technical Sergeant), US Army; 157th Infantry, 45th Infantry Division
Born: 15 June 1919, Edinburg, Mississippi
Died: 2 March 2012, Richmond, Virginia
Citation: 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.