Col. Van T. Barfoot, 90, is one of the nation’s oldest Medal of Honor winners but has found himself in another desperate struggle: against his neighborhood association. Barfoot put up a 21-Foot flagpole to hoist Old Glory only to be told by the Sussex Square homeowners’ association that he will be sued if he does not take down the flagpole. It appears that the flagpole is a bit too flagrant a display for the “aesthetics” of the association.
Barfoot’s prior skirmish was in World War II. Here is how his Medal of Honor citation reads:
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.
That was before he tried to undermine the Sussex Square Association with his obscene display.
The association insists that it is not the flag but the flagpole. What is curious is that the association voted to ask Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., to attempt to reach a compromise in the dispute. Why not just drop the claim? Here’s an idea. Pass an exception for Congressional Medal of Honor winners. If you win the CMH, you can have a flagpole. That should not present too much of a runaway exception for the association.
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