Because of the Brave

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Medal of Honor Recipient: Colonel Barney Barnum

Posted by hfalk on January 5, 2020 at 7:40 PM


[December 2016, Alexis Falk, Colonel Barney Barnum, Jack Falk, Hayley Falk and Andrew Falk]

In September of 2015 I had the honor of meeting Medal of Honor recipient Harvey C. "Barney" Barnum Jr in his hometown of Cheshire Connecticut, which is also mine. Colonel Barnum was born on July 21, 1940. Growing up in Cheshire attending Cheshire High School, class of '58. Colonel Barnum attended Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire and joined the Platoon Leaders program from 1958-1961.

Colonel Barnum attended basic training in Quantico Virginia and then served in the 1st Battalion in Okinawa, Japan. From then on, his military background expands to battalion liaison officer and being promoted to Lieutenant. In December of 1965 Colonel Barnum was sent to Vietnam as an artillery forward observer. During “Operation Harvest Moon" Lieutenant Barnum would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on December 18, 1965 — for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty".[2] The North Vietnamese launched a well planned attack, with the initial shots mortally wounding the Company Commander and Radio Operator. After the Company Commander died in his arms he assumed command. Even though they were under heavy attacks and outmanned 10-1, Lt Barnum lead his troops, exposing himself countless times while reorganizing for defense and eventually an offensive push that allowed for a successful evacuation, never leaving a man behind.[3]”


[Jeffrey Falk, Colonel Barney Barnum and Don Falk at the Medal of Honor Memorial Highway]

[December 2019, Jack Falk, Colonel Barnum and Hayley Falk]


The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.

[Pictures and caption provided by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society]


Now, in December of 2016 I had the honor of meeting Colonel Barnum again, along with his wife Martha, at his home in Virginia. He was kind enough to let my family and I hold the medal of honor he was awarded.


[Colonel Barney Barnum’s Medal of Honor]

This was a once in a lifetime experience that most people will never get to do, something that I will treasure for the rest of my life, and part of what inspired me for Because of the Brave. I feel so blessed that for the past 5 years Colonel Barnum and Martha have opened their house to us when we travel for Wreaths Across America. It is a learning experience each time, as he always has so much to share. This past year I spent time in conversation with Martha who is one of the strongest and intelligent women I have ever met. Colonel Barnum is a man who inspires me to do more, and to be more. Below I will share the citation that goes more in depth about his story.



This is his citation from the Congressional Medal of Honor society website



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. When the company was suddenly pinned down by a hail of extremely accurate enemy fire and was quickly separated from the remainder of the battalion by over 500 meters of open and fire-swept ground, and casualties mounted rapidly. Lt. Barnum quickly made a hazardous reconnaissance of the area, seeking targets for his artillery. Finding the rifle company commander mortally wounded and the radio operator killed, he, with complete disregard for his safety, gave aid to the dying commander, then removed the radio from the dead operator and strapped it to himself. He immediately assumed command of the rifle company, and moving at once into the midst of the heavy fire, rallying and giving encouragement to all units, reorganized them to replace the loss of key personnel and led their attack on enemy positions from which deadly fire continued to come. His sound and swift decisions and his obvious calm served to stabilize the badly decimated units and his gallant example as he stood exposed repeatedly to point out targets served as an inspiration to all. Provided with 2 armed helicopters, he moved fearlessly through enemy fire to control the air attack against the firmly entrenched enemy while skillfully directing 1 platoon in a successful counterattack on the key enemy positions. Having thus cleared a small area, he requested and directed the landing of 2 transport helicopters for the evacuation of the dead and wounded. He then assisted in the mopping up and final seizure of the battalion's objective. His gallant initiative and heroic conduct reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.




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