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Fort Pickett renamed after Virginia war hero Sgt. Van Barfoot

Fort Barfoot
Posted at 12:25 PM, Mar 24, 2023

BLACKSTONE, Va. -- Fort Pickett, an Army post in Nottoway County, Virginia, was officially renamed Fort Barfoot, after Tech. Sgt. Van T. Barfoot, during a ceremony on Friday.

Barfoot was a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in World War II during a battle near Carano, Italy.

“He knew that people looked at him, having been a Medal of Honor recipient, as being a war hero,” his son Tom Barfoot said in a 2012 interview with CBS 6 following his dad's death at age 92. “But he never saw himself as being a hero. Dad’s legacy, to me, was family. He was all about his God, his family, and his country, in that order.”

RELATED: Native Americans' crucial role in Fort Barfoot renaming ceremony 'means so much'

Fort Barfoot
Fort Barfoot

The renaming of Fort Pickett is part of a broader Department of Defense effort to rename military installations that were named after members of the Confederacy.

Barfoot made headlines three years before his death when he fought a battle with his Sussex Square Homeowners' Association in Henrico County after the HOA wanted him to take down his flagpole.

Army Tech. Sgt. Van T. Barfoot (1919-2012)
Army Tech. Sgt. Van T. Barfoot (1919-2012)

The HOA only allowed angled flag poles to be mounted on homes.

Barfoot said that was a dishonor to the American flag and insisted on raising and lowering his flag on a free-standing pole in his yard.

After a very public battle, one that included a vote of support from the White House, the neighborhood association backed down and allowed the flagpole to stay.

Following Barfoot's death in 2012, then-Governor Bob McDonnell (R - Virginia) issued the following statement:

Col. Barfoot
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R - Virginia) and Col. Barfoot at the Virginia War Memorial.

"In 1944, four years after he enlisted in the United States Army, Sergeant Barfoot led a squad in the invasion of Sicily. On May 23, at his request, he led his squad through German minefields to get to enemy positions on the German flank, with minimal casualties. That day, Sergeant Barfoot destroyed two German machine gun nests, killed four German soldiers, took 17 prisoners and later repelled a counter-attack, disabling a German tank using a Bazooka rocket launcher and assisting in moving two of his seriously wounded men 1,700 yards to a safe position. When he received the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration, on September 28, 1944, Lieutenant Barfoot received it in the field because he felt it was important not to leave his men. Throughout his long and exemplary career in the military, and after retiring in 1974, Colonel Barfoot was a true leader, putting others before himself and giving generously of his time and talents to his country and to his Commonwealth. It is with great sadness that we recognize the loss of a patriot and a hero, Colonel Van T. Barfoot.”

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