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Van T. Barfoot: A True American Hero and Patriot
Van Thurman Barfoot
Van T. Barfoot did so much for our country, and yet the thing that brought him to our attention, and the attention of the world, was a disagreement with his homeowner’s association.
Retired army Colonel Van Thurman Barfoot was born on June 15, 1919 in Edinburg Mississippi, one of nine children who grew up on a farm. He died on March 2, 2012, at age 92 after suffering head injuries resulting from a fall in front of his home that resulted in a coma from which he never recovered. Colonel Barfoot lived in what is called “Sussex Square” a community of townhouses where the grounds are community property, in Henrico Virginia, a suburb of Richmond.
The New York Times reports that Colonel Barfoot moved from his farm in Amelia County Virginia in 2009 (age 89) in order to be nearer to his daughter, Margaret Nicholls, who already lived in Henrico.
The Flag Dispute
Once settled into his new home just a few houses down from his daughter’s, Colonel Barfoot decided he wanted to fly the American flag as he had always done, and he had a regulation 21-foot flagpole installed in front of his townhouse. He received notice shortly after that installation that his flagpole was against the homeowner’s association rules and he would have to remove it or face a lawsuit.
Colonel Barfoot challenged the homeowner’s association order and according to Fox News, Barfoot received support from the Obama White House as well as both Virginia Senators Mark Warner (R), and Jim Webb (D), along with American citizens from all across the United States.
The homeowner’s association allowed people to fly flags from an angular staff attached to their homes, which the homeowner’s association felt was more aesthetic (attractive), but Colonel Barfoot had other ideas. The homeowner’s association said from the start, that the issue was not the flag, but the flagpole Colonel Barfoot insisted on using.
The story of Colonel Barfoot’s fight with his homeowner’s association was a top news story on all the major television networks, as well as on radio, and in newspapers across this country. Fox News reports that Barfoot eventually won when the association dropped its request on December 8, 2009, ending the controversy.
Colonel Barfoot Was A Hero Long Before the Flag Controversy
Colonel Barfoot served in World War II and was awarded “ . . . the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, in September 1944 while he was fighting in France. The Medal of Honor citation noted his “herculean efforts” and “aggressive determination in the face of point-blank fire,” (NY Times, Mar. 4, 2012).
He did not stop there. Colonel Barfoot “. . . served briefly in the Korean War and was a senior officer in Army aviation in the Vietnam War. He retired in 1974 as a colonel,” (NY Times).
Californiaindianeducation.org wrote: “As a Native American Indian [Choctaw] recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Mr. Barfoot is one of only five American Indians that have been distinguished by receiving the United States' highest military honor (the Medal of Honor) during the 20th century.”
Many people followed the story about Colonel Barfoot’s fight for the right to fly the American flag in what he considered to be the most honorable, respectful way, but may not have heard of the exemplary heroism he exhibited in his service to his country. Colonel Van Thurman Barfoot is truly an American hero for all time.