Remember the guy who wouldn’t take the flagpole down on his Virginia property a while back?
You might remember the news story about a crotchety old man in Virginia who defied his local homeowner’s association and refused to take down the flagpole on his property along with the large American flag he flew on it. Now we learn who that old man was.
On June 15, 1919, Van T. Barfoot was born in Edinburg, Texas. That probably didn’t make news back then. But twenty-five years later, on May 23, 1944, near Carano, Italy that same Van T. Barfoot, who had in 1940 enlisted in the U.S. Army, set out alone to flank German machine gun positions from which gunfire was raining down on his fellow soldiers.
His advance took him through a minefield but having done so, he proceeded to single-handedly take out three enemy machine gun positions, returning with 17 prisoners of war.
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 well deserved Congressional Medal of Honor.
What did make news…was his neighborhood association’s quibble with how the 90-year-old veteran chose to fly the American flag outside his suburban Virginia home. It seems the HOA rules said it was OK to fly a flag on a house-mounted bracket, but for decorum items such as Barfoot’s 21-foot flagpole were “unsuitable”.
Then the HOA story made national TV, and the neighborhood association rethought its position and agreed to indulge this aging hero who dwelt among them.
“In the time I have left”, he said to the Associated Press, “I plan to continue to fly the American flag without interference.” As well he should.
And if any of his neighbors had taken a notion to contest him further, they might have done well to read his Medal of Honor citation first. It indicates Mr. Van Barfoot wasn’t particularly good at backing down.
AND BECAUSE OF OLD MEN LIKE VAN BARFOOT!