Segment 2


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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