Medal of Honor vet vows to fly US flag unhindered

Published 5:32 pm Friday, December 11, 2009

A 90-year-old Army veteran who was awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II is thanking people who supported his battle to keep a 21-foot flagpole in his front yard, now that his homeowners’ association has dropped its demand that he take it down.

Retired Army Col. Van T. Barfoot read a statement Wednesday thanking “neighbors and people all through the country who have supported me in flying the American flag here in front of my home.”

Barfoot’s comments came a day after the Sussex Square homeowners’ association dropped threats of legal action against him. He had erected the flagpole in September, despite being denied permission to do so because it violated the neighborhood’s aesthetic guidelines. The association originally had threatened to take Barfoot to court if he failed to remove the pole by Friday.

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“In the time I have left I plan to continue to fly the American flag without interference,” he said.

The issue generated attention nationwide, including support for Barfoot from Virginia’s U.S. senators. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday called the homeowners group’s request “silly.”

Neighborhood association president Glenn Wilson said that the dispute wasn’t about the flag or patriotism, but about the pole. He said that many residents of the suburban townhouse community fly their American flags on house-mounted poles.

Barfoot, a Mississippi native, was awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II for actions while his platoon was under German assault near Carano, Italy, in May 1944. He was credited with standing up to three German tanks with a bazooka and stopping their advance. He also earned the Purple Heart and other decorations, and served in Korea and Vietnam before retiring from the service in 1974.