RICHMOND, Va. — A 90-year-old Medal of Honor winner can keep his 21-foot flagpole in his front yard after a homeowner's association dropped its request to remove it, a spokesman for Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said yesterday.
The Sussex Square homeowners' association likewise has agreed to drop threats to take legal action against retired Army Col. Van T. Barfoot, Warner spokesman Kevin Hall said.
The association had threatened to take Barfoot to court if he failed to remove the pole from his suburban Richmond home by Dec. 11. It had said the pole violated the neighborhood's aesthetic guidelines.
Dropping the issue effectively ends a request that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs had called "silly."
Warner and Sen. Jim Webb, both Virginia Democrats, had rallied behind Barfoot, a World War II veteran. In a letter last week, Webb urged the association to "consider the exceptional nature of Col. Barfoot's service when considering his pride and determination in honoring our flag." Barfoot's fight also lit up veterans' bulletin boards and blog sites supporting him.
Barfoot won the Medal of Honor 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 won the Purple Heart and other decorations, and served in Korea and Vietnam before retiring from the service in 1974.
Neither Barfoot's daughter, Margaret Nicholls, nor homeowners' president Glenn Wilson returned telephone messages.
Gibbs said during a Dec. 7 press briefing that he hadn't spoken directly to President Barack Obama about the flap, but said "the president believes — I think all of us believe — that the very least we can do is show our gratitude and thanks to somebody that served our country so admirably."
He went on to say that "it's silly to ... think that somebody that's done that can't have a flagpole and ... show the proper respect and appreciation that any flag deserves by flying that in their neighborhood."