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Stars that died 2010

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Van T. Barfoot, American soldier, Medal of Honor recipient, died from head injuries from a fall he was 92

Van Thomas Barfoot (born Van Thurman Barfoot;  was a United States Army officer and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II died from head injuries from a fall he was 92.

(June 15, 1919 – March 2, 2012) 
Barfoot was born on June 15, 1919, in Edinburg, Mississippi.[4] His grandmother was Choctaw, but Barfoot himself was not an official member of the Choctaw Nation; although he was eligible, his parents had never enrolled him.[5]
After enlisting in the Army from Carthage, Mississippi, in 1940  1st Infantry Division in Louisiana and Puerto Rico. In December 1941, he was promoted to sergeant and reassigned to the Headquarters Amphibious Force Atlantic Fleet in Quantico, Virginia, where he served until the unit was deactivated in 1943. He next joined the 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, and was shipped to Europe.[5]
and completing his training, Barfoot served with the
During the Italian Campaign Barfoot participated in a series of amphibious landings: the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943, the invasion of mainland Italy at Salerno in September 1943, and finally the landings at Anzio in late January 1944. His unit pushed inland from Anzio, and by May 1944 had reached the small town of Carano in northeastern Italy, near Austria. They set up defensive positions and Barfoot conducted patrols to scout the German lines. When his company was ordered to attack on the morning of 23 May 1944, Barfoot, now a technical sergeant, asked for permission to lead a squad. Because of the patrols he had made, he knew the terrain and the minefield which lay in front of the German position. He advanced alone through the minefield, following ditches and depressions, until he came within a few yards of a machine gun nest on the German flank. After taking out the gun and its crew with a hand grenade, he entered the German trench and advanced on a second machine gun, killing two soldiers and capturing three others. When he reached a third machinegun, the entire crew surrendered to him. Others also surrendered, and Barfoot captured a total of seventeen German soldiers and killed eight.[5]
When the Germans launched an armored counterattack with three Tiger tanks directly against his positions later that day, Barfoot disabled the lead tank with a bazooka, killed part of its crew with his Thompson submachine gun, and turned the German attack. He then advanced into enemy-held territory and destroyed an abandoned German artillery piece. He returned to his own lines and helped two wounded soldiers from his squad to the rear.[5]
Van Thomas Barfoot newly promoted US Army Lieutenant circa 1944.
Barfoot was subsequently commissioned as a second lieutenant. His division moved into France, and by September 1944 was serving in the Rhone valley. Lt. Barfoot learned he would be awarded the Medal of Honor and chose to have the presentation ceremony in the field, so that his soldiers could attend. He was formally presented with the medal on September 28, 1944, in Épinal, France, by Lieutenant General Alexander Patch.[5]
Having grown up in the strictly segregated south, Barfoot was noted for a comment he made in 1945 regarding African-Americans. Mississippi senator and Ku Klux Klan member Theodore G. Bilbo asked Barfoot if he had much trouble with the African-American soldiers he had served with during the war. To Bilbo's embarrassment, Barfoot responded, "I found out after I did some fighting in this war that the colored boys fight just as good as the white boys...I've changed my idea a lot about colored people since I got into this war and so have a lot of other boys from the south".[6]
Barfoot later served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and earned a Purple Heart. He reached the rank of colonelbefore retiring from the Army.[7] In retirement, he lived on a farm in Amelia County, Virginia and later moved to, Henrico County, Virginia, near his daughter. On October 9, 2009, the portion of Mississippi Highway 16 which runs from Carthage through his hometown of Edinburg to the border between Leake and Neshoba counties was named the "Van T. Barfoot Medal of Honor Highway".[8] A building at McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond, VA also carries his name.

Barfoot suffered a skull fracture and bleeding in the brain from a fall two days earlier in front of his home, and died on March 2, 2012 at the age of 92
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