January 11, 2011

David Bennes Barkley

David Bennes Barkley, Medal of Honor recipient, was born, probably in 1899, to Josef and Antonia (Cantú) Barkley in Laredo, Texas. When the United States entered World War I, Barkley enlisted as a private in the United States Army. Family records indicate he did not want to be known as of Mexican descent, for fear he would not see action at the front. He was assigned to Company A, 356th Infantry, Eighty-ninth Division. In France he was given the mission of swimming the Meuse River near Pouilly, in order to infiltrate German lines and gather information about the strength and deployment of German formations. Despite enemy resistance to any allied crossing of the Meuse, Barkley and another volunteer accomplished the mission. While returning with the information, Barkley developed cramps and drowned, on November 9, 1918, just two days before the armistice went into effect. His sacrifice earned praise from Gen. John J. Pershing, the commander of the American Expeditionary Force. Barkley was one of three Texans awarded the nation's highest military honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor, for service in World War I. He was also awarded the Croix de Guerre (France) and the Croce Merito (Italy). In 1921 an elementary school in San Antonio was named for him. He lay in state at the Alamo, the second person to be so honored. He was buried at San Antonio National Cemetery. On January 10, 1941, the War Department named Camp Barkeley for the Texas hero.

Citation
When information was desired as to the enemy's position on the opposite side of the Meuse River, Pvt. Barkeley, with another soldier, volunteered without hesitation and swam the river to reconnoiter the exact location. He succeeded in reaching the opposite bank, despite the evident determination of the enemy to prevent a crossing. Having obtained his information, he again entered the water for his return, but before his goal was reached, he was seized with cramps and drowned.

GPS Coordinates
29° 25.303, -098° 28.037

Section G
San Antonio National Cemetery
San Antonio

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