Van T. Barfoot

Photograph of Van Barfoot with his flag


On March 2, 2012, Van T. Barfoot died at the age of 92.

You might remember a news story several months ago about a crotchety old man who defied his homeowners association and refused to take down the flagpole on his property and the large flag that flew on it.


This old man was Van. T. Barfoot.   His background illustrates that he was no stranger to standing up and holding his ground.

Van Barfoot was born June 15, 1919 in Edinburg.  At the age of 21, he joined the US Army when the Americans entered World War II.

photograph of a german tank in world war IIOn May 23, 1944 near Carano Italy,  his US Army units were pinned down by machine gun fire from three German machine nests. In an effort to resolve the situation, Van Barfoot set off to out flank the dug-in German machine gun positions.

In his advance, he crawled through a German minefield and eventually took out all the German machine units.

He returned to his unit with 17 captured German prisoners.

Later the same day, his unit secured the position which he had captured earlier.  When the German army advanced with three tanks to retake the position, Van Barfoot without hesitation took the appropriate action to destroyed all three tanks.

His action on this day earned him the United States Congressional Medal of Honor.

Photograph of the US Medal of Honour

US Congressional Medal of Honor

Van Barfoot remained in the US Army and went on to serve in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  At the time of his retirement, he had achieved the rank of Colonel.

What did make news 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.


When asked about his flagpole – he responded by saying “In the time I have left I plan to continue to fly the American flag without interference,”

photograph of flag infront of Van Barfoot's home

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