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Barfoot first served with the 1st Infantry Division when he enlisted at Fort Benning, Georgia. With the 1st Division, he took part in the Louisiana Maneuvers, went to New York and then to Massachusetts. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, he was reassigned to the Headquarters of the US Army Atlantic Fleet at Norfolk, Virginia. His initial training was at a Marine Corps base but then he went to Norfolk. They trained the first 4 infantry divisions to be deployed in Europe. He was to go with them and was invited to join the last unit he trained, the 45th Infantry Division at Hampton Roads, Virginia and stayed at Camp Pickett for a few days. On 8 June 1943, they sailed to Africa for training to invade Sicily. When Barfoot joined the Army he was a private. He enlisted rather than be drafted. Early in his career he had training with the Civilian Conservation Corps [Annotator's Note: commonly referred to by the acronym CCC]. You got all of the basic training that the army received except for us of weapons. Barfoot decided he didn't want to go through that again so he enlisted.While in the CCC, he was in Kosciusko, Mississippi for a few months and then went to Oregon to help in control of the great forests that went all through the Pacific part of the United States. He spent 1 summer there and next winter went somewhere else. He got to go to Portland, Seattle and see a lot of the West Coast. Being in the Civilian Conservation Corps was very beneficial to his lifetime in the military. He was a group leader in the Civilian Conservation Corps and got to control 15 to 20 men who were 16 to 18 years old. He had no basic training in the Army at all. He could march and had his initial training with the 1st Division. He went on a maneuver in the Atlantic at an island and then came back to Boston to do some field training.On 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked. On 28 December 1941 was when the group was formed to go to Quantico and organize the Amphibious Force Headquarters, Atlantic Fleet. He stayed there until sometime in late May 1942. They put 3 divisions and 1 regimental combat group through training in Solomon, Maryland. That was a great experience because he got to meet a lot of people at a lot of different ranks. His job was to control the beaches for security and personal property and give guidance and instructions to people that didn't know where they were going. It was a good chance to meet thousands of soldiers. But, after he got to his unit in Camp Pickett and was going to learn about his squad, he only got 4 or 5 days before they shipped out. They got to know each other on the ship over and in North Africa.They arrived in Sicily and had a very successful landing. It wasn't really combat, more like moving a few people out of the way until they could get to the main forces. There was not much opposition as far as Germans against American forces for the 45th Infantry Division in Sicily. Barfoot remembers the war really began when they crossed the channel into Italy. The 45th went through Salerno and he had the opportunity to lead a patrol across the Saline River up to the town of Paestum where the Germans were withdrawing from several days of fighting. Barfoot felt he had fine troops and they had become a professional fighting force after Salerno. They moved up to Venafro where the Germans held up for winter and recalls they ran into some serious fighting. They were in the lead platoon and attacked the Germans on the edge of the mountains. They had one of the most difficult days of the war and lost a lot of men. After staying there a while, they moved back to Venafro and received orders to move out again. Barfoot led the platoon right back to the same place and this time he was recommended for the Silver Star and got it after they got to Anzio sometime later.He was awarded the Silver Star and suggests others read his citation, but basically he lead several patrols into the German lines, he personally eliminated the German unit Headquarters. One time in that area, he took three officers out of the unit on a patrol out front to show them the terrain around January 2nd [Annotator’s Note: 1944]

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Barfoot and the 45th Infantry Division went on up into the mountains around the 2nd of January, 1944. They moved out of the furthest combat area they captured, and moved back to the flatlands near Salerno and went into training in preparation to invade Anzio. When they got to Anzio, they had some tough fighting for a while. They stabilized themselves on the beach, and stayed there for a while and were under intense German shelling for some time. They were eventually able to prevent them from eliminating the beachhead. On 23 May, 1944, they made the attempt to break out of the beachhead area of Anzio. As a result of his actions there, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, but he didn't receive the medal there. He received it in Southern France, after making another amphibious operation. After they had hit the German lines pretty strongly at Rammersvillers [Annotator’ Note: unsure of spelling] he left the unit and went back to Épinal to receive the Medal of Honor and was sent home to sell war bonds.During the actions that lead to him receiving the Medal of Honor, Barfoot wasn't concerned with anything but eliminating the German positions. He had been in front of the position they attacked for about four weeks and had made patrols. He knew where the German minefields were and that proved to be a great advantage for his troops. He led the platoon. Captain Nation, a Lieutenant at that time, was platoon commander and Barfoot was a squad leader. Barfoot asked if he could lead a squad around to the flank and go through the minefields and get to the German positions without casualties. He took his unit and put them in position to defend a possible withdrawal. He personally went into the German positions himself and got into the trenches with them. As he moved up the trenches, he was able to eliminate all of the troops in front of his unit. He recalls about three machine gun positions, one surrendered and the other two eliminated. Barfoot thinks the citation said he sent 17 prisoners back.In the afternoon, they had occupied the German positions. He was out front with some of his squad looking at the terrain and looking for potentially hazardous problems ahead of the platoon. He ran into some artillery pieces that hadn't been destroyed so he destroyed one. He got to a railroad track and the Germans counter attacked with tanks and sent three of them under a trestle. They sent the main part down the railroad. One came toward Barfoot's position and he was able to knock it out with a rocket launcher/bazooka. He hit the front track and it turned. He was able to get it completely out of action by getting the crew. The other two tanks ran alongside this one and one was knocked out by artillery. Barfoot can’t recall what happened to the other, but he is confident it was knocked out since it didn't withdraw in his direction. When he got back to his platoon, he found out they had been ordered to withdraw and reform the line. Lieutenant Nation had pulled the platoon back. Barfoot went around looking for wounded and found two. One was wounded in his buttocks and Barfoot evacuated him and the other was wounded in the arm and leg and could hold on to him. He evacuated both in the direction of an aid station. When he got there, he left them and rejoined his unit.They went from before daylight to well after dark that day. Barfoot says that one significant thing he wants people to know is that soldiers have a heart and they believe in things very strongly. After he joined his unit and they all became good buddies, they'd have a few days off and go to church. They learned that even with some Jewish and Catholic boys in the outfit, when the chaplain came up, they'd go and hear him talk. That went on even at Salerno and Anzio. So in the morning when they had moved into position to go, Barfoot called all the squad leaders and assistant squad leaders and a platoon sergeant from outside was there with them. Barfoot had a book in his pocket and he took it out and a GI named Royal K. Reese from Nacogdoches, Texas was one of his squad leaders and had a cigarette lighter. He held it in the dark and Barfoot took his New Testament that was sent to him by his mother-in-law to be and he read just a few words out of it. They stuck with him and continue to stick with him today and he felt it was a real lesson for him. It was from Matthew 6:19 and said, "Lay not up for yourself treasures upon Earth, where moth and rust does corrupt and where thieves do not break through (break in) and steal. But, lay up for yourself treasures in Heaven where neither moth and rust does not corrupt, and thieves do not break through (break in) and steal." Barfoot never had to read that verse over again. In fact, he doesn't think anything ever caused him to solidify an idea in his head than this one verse. He recalls those men with him went through a lot of the war together and survived. But, there were many more cases where fighting was more difficult to him than Salerno or the landing in Southern France, fighting in Southern France where the Germans were falling back were a lot more difficult.

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Barfoot recalls difficult times when they landed in Southern France, he was the Platoon Leader and had been promoted to Lieutenant and had joined another company. He led the 1st Platoon of their unit over the beaches. Their objective was to knock out an enemy position that was the communications center for the coastal artillery along the beach. They fought through grape vineyards, down a hill and into a plaza area of Sainte Maxime, France where they had to move undetected. They did so and were able to open the door and get into the communication center and blow it up. It was difficult and fortunately Barfoot didn't have anyone wounded. After they left there, the Germans had established defensive positions above the town. They were well dug in and it was probably two companies or a battalion sized group. Barfoot's unit was in the back of the company. He had a good Lieutenant with him that killed a sniper there [Annotators note: hard to understand what city]. They got into a sheltered area and a sniper shot Barfoot's 2nd Lieutenant bar off his helmet and the bullet ran over and down his head. Barfoot's radio operator/runner was able to shoot him out of the tree. They lost several initially and one of Barfoot's men was wounded. This was a difficult day, after they took the town of Sainte Maxime.Barfoot feels that the history of the Third Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division will better tell the story of what individual combat was like rather than him go into much more detail or many more stories. They made it through Sainte Maxime and made it to the Rhone River and other areas they had to fight. When Barfoot got to Rambersvillers [Annotators note: unsure of spelling] someone came to him and told him to report back to Headquarters. When he got back there, the 45th Division Commander came up and told him that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor. Barfoot requested that they award it to him while he was still in France. They did so at Epinal and pulled his platoon out of action for the event. They can be seen in the background of some of the photos of his award ceremony.They were the men of 3rd Platoon, Company I, 3rd Battalion of 157th Infantry, 45th Infantry Division.Barfoot was asked if he wanted to come back to the United States to be awarded the Medal of Honor, but he chose to do it with his men present. He notes that most people were awarded by the President. Barfoot didn't give it much thought when he found out he was being awarded the Medal of Honor. He felt that he hadn't done more there than he had done elsewhere. He just did his job and tried to save the lives of the people that were helping him. He felt it was not a big thing for a man in combat to think about medals, awards or recognitions. He just thinks about getting the job done. Barfoot feels that he did all he could. He never asked a soldier or anyone to do any task that he couldn't or wouldn't do if he was in the same position. He didn't send anyone out to do a special task that he wouldn't do or hadn't already done. He made sure to get the maximum out of every man he had in his unit. No shirkers and fortunately he was the leader of one of those units. Not only as a squad leader, platoon leader and later on in his career as a battalion commander and while in Vietnam had a larger job and never had any problems.When Barfoot was sent back to the United States to sell war bonds, it was not something he would have selected to do or was adapted to. But, as long as it helped the war effort, he saw it as another job to do. He enjoyed meeting people and felt they were friendly and eager to find out what was going on with their relatives, friends and family that were in the war. He could tell them about his experiences or the men that were with him, but he couldn't tell these people what their loved one was doing. And he didn't try to embellish or detract from any of the actions. He honestly told them what he saw and there were some things he didn't share because no one outside of the combat area should know. He feels that is one of the problems of today. We hear too much information from the combat zone. In hearing too much by inexperienced people and without understanding what things are all about, we get distorted ideas and positions in life. We get confused and get Americans confused. Barfoot feels that is one of the biggest problems of today's military. Too many stories are coming out of the same room.

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Barfoot grew up on a farm and his family was all on the farm. They grew cotton and corn and made a living during the Depression when nobody was making money. They made enough to live on and the children went to school and worked. In the summer time, they would cut the school afternoon short and come home to pick cotton or whatever they had to do. On the weekends, the only thing they had to do was play baseball or go to a local game. In the winter time, the boys went hunting and fishing. It was not like farming today with air-conditioned tractors. They used hoes and picked the grass out of the corn and cotton. They grew up as a family and all did well. Barfoot said one of his brothers didn't go to war because of a foot injury that he could walk on, but kept him from being a soldier. The other was older and married and had a child that was an invalid early in life. He was the only male out of the family that could serve. Two of his sisters were nurses. One was an employee with a manufacturing unit and the other was young when the war was almost over. His mother and father stayed home and his mother took care of the family while his father took care of the business. They were wonderful people and great Christians.Barfoot recalled seeing them for the first time when he returned from the war. He flew from New York to Jackson [Annotator’s Note: Mississippi] and was happy to be there. When he got to Jackson, there was a vehicle and entourage to meet him. There was a driver and he told him to take him home. They stopped off in Carthage at the county seat for a parade and when he finally got home it was just his family and he enjoyed seeing them very much. He didn't stay long; after he left there he went to Virginia where he finished his tour and got married.Barfoot feels that his faith didn't get him through the war, but it sure helped. It helped calm him down a lot of times when he might have been too excited. He noted that it was amazing what your mentality, if you develop it properly, will do for you. He was never afraid and never doubted that he wouldn't get through. He expected to get wounded and he did. He was wounded three times, but he never stopped or had fear of going back the next time. He says “your faith and mental capacity of the human nature is the greatest defense you have, because you don't lose your perspective when you are doing a job.” He flew combat missions in Vietnam even though he was in a senior position there as a Deputy Aviation Officer in Vietnam. He flew 26 combat missions and none of that ever bothered him.Once World War II ended, he discussed with his wife what to do next and she said he should do whatever he wanted to. He wanted to try it a little longer in the military. They found it was exciting to stay in the Army and finish his education and have an opportunity to raise a family. She enjoyed it and she became like a mother to the young people coming into the military, especially to the men he commanded. When he had to go to another war and go overseas by himself, she was able to manage and take the children. When he retired, they came to Virginia and built a house and were living on a farm until she died in 1992. He felt they were extremely fortunate to have the children that they have. He has family pictures all over his house of his wife, his parents and his family.Barfoot thinks that he couldn't ask for anything else in life other than to let him have good health for the rest of it.

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In Vietnam, Barfoot found the news different from the perspective he got from it in the United States. He saw and heard the actions of college students towards the people going to Vietnam. He got a different perspective when he got there. He anticipated it would have been entirely different from World War II when the whole nation was behind you and troops were willing to do anything to get the job done. People were nervous and young replacement troops were very nervous. People that had been there fighting had a rotation time and were anxious to do their time and come home. But, the troops over there did a wonderful job even though there were difficult situations. The American soldiers fought the war as if everything was all right back home. Barfoot feels that the American soldier tried to forget about what was going on in the US and fight the war. But, it was an entirely different situation. Barfoot states that it would be like playing professional football with teams fighting from all over the country to win the game, where in Vietnam you have teams that are from certain parts of the country that don't have full backing of their supporting area.In his analogy, no matter where you were from, everybody was pulling for you. Barfoot feels the same thing as Vietnam is going on in Iraq.Barfoot flew most of his combat missions in the "delta" and in the highlands and around Saigon and Bien Hoa. When flying these missions one had to be very alert and know thier area. You'd seek a target and deliver your ammunition. It wasn't a difficult situation, but you didn't want to hang around and let the enemy fire on you. Barfoot’s missions involved firing at ground targets instead of air-to-air. He flew a helicopter gunship. He flew all over the country and flew other types of aircraft on other types of missions. His job was primarily administrative, though. Barfoot became an aviator when he was 40 years old because he felt he needed to get into a position where he could help th Army. They needed close air support and the only way they could get it was when they took the Air Force out of the Army and made it a force to protect all the troops and get air superiority. The only way they could get it after they took the Air Force out of the Army, was to enable the Army to get flying capability for ground support.Barfoot retired from the Army in September of 1974 at the rank of Colonel. He was wounded three times in World War II. Once he was shot in the hand and leg. The next he got a couple of wounds in his side and his leg. He got a Purple Heart too for getting his helmet and his head shot. He received one wound in France and two in Italy.Barfoot feels that it is important for people to study history, no matter what war or subject matter it is so that we can know what we have gone through in the past and see the problems they had then. Technology has changed the techniques, but from a human point, we have to do what we can to stay alive and be successful. He feels studying the Civil War, World War I, and the actions between those wars is an important thing. People didn't have the same weapons, but they have the same responsibilities. How they handled a situation may be somewhat related to modern or future topics. Barfoot feels the human factor and how people stood up to the challenges is important. He reads history and likes it a lot. He feels there are some good examples in history that could be applied to situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He feels it is good to have discipline and cohesiveness within units. He feels there are people put in positions where they might do something they might not normally do.Barfoot has nothing against any man and woman fighting the war. He feels that they are doing a marvelous job and are doing the best that they can under the circumstances. He feels completely disturbed by accusations some people are making about others and the pressure that troops are under. He feels that if you haven't been there and haven't served and don't know the situation, the best you can do is to not talk about it. He hopes in history, and says on the History Channel, that we'll have confidence in the people we send to do the job and continue to do so until the job is done. Then, we can critique it after it is finished. He notes that you don't critique a football game or basketball game before it is finished, you wait until it is finished and try to see what you can do better.

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Barfoot has returned to Italy and France, but not back to Vietnam. He went all over France and Germany. He returned at the 50th Anniversary after World War II on an official visit and went back once on his own to see what it was like and toured the country. He was stationed in Germany too and while there, they traveled all over the country. He took his wife around and showed her some of the places he fought. He enjoyed going back. Barfoot talks with the interviewer about traveling to Europe.[Annotator’s Note: A monkey toy starts interrupting the casual conversation by randomly going off and playing a song.]Barfoot thinks future Americans should love their country and do all that they can for it. They shouldn’t criticize people doing their job, unless they have experience or unless they are a professional in their particular field. And most of all, he feels they should love their neighbor as they love themselves. He defines neighbors as anyone that has a belief in America. feels that if you find someone that doesn't like America, you don't have to deal with him because he is not your neighbor.Barfoot feels he can only talk about what he did and what he recalls and felt. He feels young people should work their way through school and learn as much as they can about technology and learn to help others that are less fortunate. He also feels World War II changed his life by taking him off the farm where he was destined to work and where he never really dealt with the general public; it enabled him to see the world. He also would have never had the chance to meet the most wonderful lady in the world and have the beautiful family that he has. He also feels he wouldn't have survived the 88 years he had up to the time of this interview.Barfoot feels we need more history to allow people to see what America has been like. He feels if we want to evaluate ourselves between now and the future, we should look back. He feels that you’ll never know exactly where you ar going, but you can get an idea of where you might be going if you look back at past history. He wonders if people that landed in America to start the country or if George Washington's forces could ever have conceived of where we'd be today. When Barfoot was a kid, he was very interested in machinery, but he could never conceive of what we have now. Our technology has grown by leaps and bounds. It is essential that we stay in touch with what is going on today. He looks at every paper he can, looks at a lot of books and documentation and he gets a glimpse of what is going on, but certainly doesn't know for sure. 

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