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Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army

Van T. Barfoot

Details
  • Rank: Second Lieutenant (rank at time of action: Technical Sergeant)
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    3d Platoon, Company L 3d Battalion, 157th Infantry,
    45th Infantry Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: May 23, 1944
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: near Carano, Italy
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 TSgt.) moved off alone upon the enemy left flank. He crawled to the proximity of one machine-gun nest and made a direct hit on it with a hand grenade, killing two and wounding three Germans. He continued along the German defense line to another machine-gun emplacement, and with his tommy gun killed two and captured three soldiers. Members of another enemy machine-gun 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 three 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 two changed direction toward the flank. As the crew of the disabled tank dismounted, Sgt. Barfoot killed three of them with his tommy gun. 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 two 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 point-blank fire are a perpetual inspiration to his fellow soldiers.

USED WITH PERMISSION, COPYRIGHT NICK DELCALZO
USED WITH PERMISSION, COPYRIGHT NICK DELCALZO
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Carthage, Leake County, Mississippi
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: September 28, 1944

    Epinal, France, presented by Lt. Gen. Alexander M. Patch III

  • Born: June 15, 1919, Edinburg, Leake County, MS, United States
  • Died: March 2, 2012, Richmond, VA, United States
  • Buried: Smithers Cemetery, Mathews, VA, United States
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