Medal of Honor winner, 90, ordered to remove flagpole

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by Luigi59, Dec 3, 2009.

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  1. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Medal of Honor winner, 90, ordered to remove flagpole

    Col. Van T. Barfoot, a local Medal of Honor winner, is under the gun from his Henrico County community's homeowner association.

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    Medal of Honor recipient Col. Van T. Barfoot, 90, and his daughter Margaret Nicholls lower the flag outside Barfoot's home in the Sussex Square subdivision in western Henrico County, Va., on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009.

    In a five-paragraph letter to Barfoot that he received yesterday, Barfoot is being ordered to remove a flagpole from his yard. The decorated veteran of three wars, now 90 years old, raises the American flag every morning on the pole, then lowers and folds the flag at dusk each day in a three-corner military fashion.

    In a priority mail letter, the Coates & Davenport law firm in Richmond is ordering Barfoot to remove the pole by 5 p.m. Friday or face "legal action being brought to enforce the Covenants and Restrictions against you." The letter states that Barfoot will be subject to paying all legal fees and costs in any successful legal proceeding pursued by the homeowner association's board.

    Barfoot's daughter said this evening that news reports about the association order have prompted an outpouring of sympathy and offers of help from people following her father's ordeal.

    Tonight, the Sussex Square Homeowners Association issued a statement reiterating its position that Barfoot directly violated the association board's denial of his request to erect a flagpole.

    "This is not about the American flag. This about a flagpole," the statement reads.

    Barfoot lives in the Sussex Square community in far western Henrico; its board of directors rejected a plea from Barfoot in July to approve the pole, disallowing the fixture on aesthetic grounds.

    There is no provision in the community's rules expressly forbidding flagpoles, Barfoot's daughter said. But she said the board ruled against her father's fixture and ordered it removed in July, deciding that free-standing flag poles are not aesthetically appropriate. Short flag stands attached to porches dot the community.

    "Dad sort of feels like this is the end," said Margaret Nicholls, Barfoot's daughter, who lives a few doors away. But she said this morning that she and her husband are attempting to generate support for her father's cause, a flag-raising rite that he has undertaken for most of his life.

    Barfoot received the Medal of Honor on the battlefield during World War II in Italy and fought as well in the Korean and Vietnam wars. A portion of a highway in rural Mississippi, his native state, was named in his honor this fall. A building at McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond also carries his name.

    Barfoot began regularly flying the flag on Veteran's Day this year despite the Sussex Square board's decision.

    He said in November that not flying the flag would be a sacrilege to him.

    "There's never been a day in my life or a place I've lived in my life that you couldn't fly the American flag," he said.
     
  2. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Here is his MOH citation:

    BARFOOT, VAN T.

    Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 157th Infantry, 45th Infantry Division.
    Place and date: Near Carano, Italy, 23 May 1944.
    Entered service at: Carthage, Miss.
    Birth: Edinburg, Miss.
    G.O. No.: 79, 4 October 1944.

    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 Tech. Sgt.) moved off alone upon the enemy left flank. He crawled to the proximity of 1 machinegun nest and made a direct hit on it with a hand grenade, killing 2 and wounding 3 Germans. He continued along the German defense line to another machinegun emplacement, and with his tommygun killed 2 and captured 3 soldiers. Members of another enemy machinegun 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 3 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 2 changed direction toward the flank. As the crew of the disabled tank dismounted, Sgt. Barfoot killed 3 of them with his tommygun. 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 2 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 pointblank fire are a perpetual inspiration to his fellow soldiers.



    This man should be allowed to do whatever he wishes.
     
  3. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    If there is enough publicity that association will back down- this is a story that ought to go Viral!!
     
  4. 2012Cadet

    2012Cadet Member

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    What the heck...why in the world is the ***ociation so adamant about removing the flagpole (never explained that, huh)?:mad::unhappy:
     
  5. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

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    just a little info on this subject:
    Lawyer representing the HOA is Mr. Alexandra D. Bowen of Coates& Davenport
    Phone # 804-285-7000
    Website: www.coatslaw.com

    I fired off a short note expressing my disappointment in their choice of clients.

    I'm still looking for info on the HOA phone# website and such if anyone finds that info please share.
     
  6. sprog

    sprog Member

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    This is a pretty minor critique, but, generally, those who are awarded decorations in the service are said to be "recipients" of the medals, not "winners." The thought being that it is not a contest, and that the medals are earned.

    Thus, this gentleman is a recipient of the Medal of Honor, and not a winner of it, as is stated in the title of the thread. Again, a very minor detail.
     
  7. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Yet another reason why homeowners associations are a bad idea.

    However, with that being said. He chose to live in this community. When you choose to live in an HOA controlled neighborhood you agree to abide by their rules. If they say no flag pole, well sorry...you can either move or do what they say.

    Unfortunate they decided to not allow it, which I don't agree with.
     
  8. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Complain to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, it's their headline.
     
  9. sprog

    sprog Member

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  10. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    God Bless the MOH "winner" "recipient". ERGO he was awarded the greatest award a sometimes grateful nation can give for military service. He gets to do what he damned well pleases.
     
  11. sprog

    sprog Member

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    While I certainly think that the HOA is being unreasonable here, the Colonel can't "do what he damned well pleases" without facing liability. He agreed to the covenants when he moved into the subdivision, and this included allowing the HOA to determine what is asthetically pleasing in the neighborhood. I think it's pretty unfair, and the HOA must be crazy to find that a tasteful flagpole in the yard is somehow an eyesore. Indeed, this case illustrates how petty HOAs can be, and is a strong argument for people to find a place to live that does not have one. Nonetheless, once you agree to something that is legally binding, if you breach, you have to be held accountable. I hope the HOA just decides to drop its threat of litigation and let this hero fly the flag.
     
  12. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    He is a recipient of the MOH for God's sakes. Screw your liability and astheticaly pleasing neighborhood and their stupid covenants. My Father (92 and a WWII Veteran) proudly displays the flag each and every day on his flag pole in front of his house in a senior community without anyone complaining. He is proud of his granddaughter at the Naval Academy and proud of his service as am I of mine. As I stated "He can do what he damned well pleases". He has earned the right.
     
  13. sprog

    sprog Member

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    First off, the content of the Colonel's message (the flag) is not really an issue here based on the facts as reported in the article. In fact, if I remember correctly, the article said that several of his neighbors displayed American flags from shorter poles from their porches (I could be wrong, but it sounds familiar). This boils down to a matter of contract (a covenant is a contract with conditions on the land) between two private entities. If the gentleman purchased his house in this subdivision, and one of the terms of the covenant he signed included a provision that the HOA had full authority to rule on construction/additions to the property in the neighborhood, then he is obligated to follow their decision on the flagpole. Assuming these are the terms he agreed to, if he fails to honor them, he is in breach. If, however, the covenant is not so clear, the Colonel may have an argument in his favor. That is, let us suppose for a moment that the covenant states that the "HOA will approve or disapprove an addition in the neighborhood based on the reasonable preference of the community." Here, the Colonel would justifiably attack the actions of the HOA as being outside of the collective "reasonable preference." Just an example, but it illustrates the point that the covenant of this community, signed by the Colonel, is the controlling factor in the dispute.

    Clearly AF6872, you are passionate about the flag and, on that, you and I agree. In fact, I think we can both stipulate that the actions of the HOA are absurd. It is most certainly unfair that this veteran cannot display a tasteful flagpole in his yard without the neighbors casing a fuss. However, as my Contracts professor told me during my first year of law school, what is "fair" and what is "legal" are often two separate things. No one is above the law, and no one should be allowed to be excused from their legal obligations, regardless of their veteran status. You're proud of your service, and you should be. I too had a grandfather who fought in WWII (USN, Battle of the Atlantic), a father who served in the US Army during Vietnam, and I spent four years on active duty as an Air Force officer.
    I don't know if you meant your "screw you" for me or for the unreasonable HOA in this case, but, let us all be careful with how we use inflammatory comments, OK? This gentleman heroically fought in World War II so that Europe could be free from a tyrant who abandoned the rules of society and put himself and his cronies in positions above the law. His valor and that of many others ensured that we can live in a free society. This is a place where our private and public laws can continue to flourish, where men have the choice to enter into a covenant or not, and where the courts exist as a venue to address grievances for citizens. I respect the MOH and this Veteran as a hero; but, he too must honor the legal agreements he entered.
     
  14. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Really I believe Sprog you hit this on the head- as everyone who has ever lived in a community with an association knows - they can be pretty petty and arbitrary- but they are organizations with pretty specific rules of approval that you as a resident have agreed to abide by.
    However, Home Owners Associations like most other public groups dread a lot of unfavorable publicity whether or not they are legally in the right. When subjected to a torrent of publicity exposing their actions as shallow, misguided or arbitrary they often reconsider their actions- especially when they start realizing that unfavorable publicity for a Home Owners Association translates into their pockets as it negatively impacts potential buyers perceptions. So if people want to help the Colonel, publicizing this and generating public outrage as much as possible is the way to influence the HOA to revise their initial ruling.
     
  15. rotc2013

    rotc2013 Member

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    Well said Sprog. Apparently he put in a request to install the pole and it was rejected in July of this year. He proceeded to install it anyway.

    I think we can all agree that the Colonel is a great man and worthy of our respect, but the fact is that he chose to live there and signed the contract.

    Is the HOA being unfair? Yes. But being a good soldier like the Colonel also means being a good citizen, and that means following the rules just like everyone else. Being a hero doesn't put you above the law. If the Colonel has a case (which he may, it seems like a ridiculous law), he should pursue it. If not, he needs to either accept the ruling or leave the development and find someplace more accepting.

    It isn't fair, but sprog made a very good point when he said fair and legal are often two different things.
     
  16. 2012Cadet

    2012Cadet Member

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    Yet again...why in the world would they not want to allow a pole to display the American flag?
     
  17. 2012Cadet

    2012Cadet Member

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    Fair enough with this wording thing but I hate it when people have to take it a step further and be "politically correct" (i.e. African American instead of black, etc.), because it just makes life harder for everyone and doesn't really do any benefit but to clean the conscience of those few who even care and can sometimes be nonsense (in the case of news media not wanting to emphasize the radical Muslim belief of the Fort Hood shooter)
     
  18. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    I completely agree. I think he should be allowed to have a flag pole seeing as its appropriate and shows patriotism, however, he signed a contract and nobody is above the law, not even a Medal of Honor recipient.
     
  19. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Holy cow, he's back again.
     
  20. sprog

    sprog Member

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    Did I go somewhere? A very peculiar post, indeed.
     
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