An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | March 26, 2024

Fort Barfoot celebrates one year since redesignation

By Mike Vrabel | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Fort Barfoot leaders and employees along with community representatives celebrated the first anniversary of the redesignation of the installation in honor of Col. Van T. Barfoot, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient with extensive Virginia ties March 22, 2024, at Fort Barfoot, Virginia. 

Col. James C. Shaver Jr., the Fort Barfoot garrison commander, presided over the ceremony, which featured remarks from retired Lt. Col. Tom Barfoot, the installation namesake’s oldest son, and Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe of Southhampton County, Virginia. . 

“As I look around, I’m humbled, I really am,” said Barfoot. “The support you all have shown for the renaming of this place would make my dad proud. I know he’d be so honored, and I wish he could be up here talking to you right now. He was not only my dad, he was my friend and he was my mentor. He was one hell of a Soldier.”

“We are honored to bear the great name of Col. Van T. Barfoot, and will carry on in his warrior tradition for generations to come,” said Shaver. “We owe this to those who have come before us, those that serve today and those who will come afterwards, and after them as well.”

Fort Barfoot was redesigned March 24, 2023, during a ceremony at the Blackstone Army Airfield. Sen. Tim Kaine and Director of the Army National Guard Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen were in attendance, and Barfoot’s daughter, Margaret Nicholls, gave remarks on behalf of the Barfoot family. Members of Choctaw Nation and local Native American tribes, including the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, performed a ceremonial honor dance to honor Barfoot’s Native American heritage, as his maternal grandmother was a member of Choctaw Nation. 

Read more about the official redesignation ceremony held March 24, 2023, at

Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe gave remarks at the one-year anniversary celebration. 

“I’m so glad Col. Shaver invited us here,” said Brown. “This is still a historical moment. When they had the change of name ceremony, it became history for Fort Barfoot.”

During the ceremony, Shaver briefed the gathered audience on highlights from Fort Barfoot’s first full year, including hosting the Region II Best Warrior Competition, helping send VNG troops to the Southwest Border and hosting training for other services and countries.

“I’m excited about the things we have all accomplished together,” said Shaver. “I’m extremely proud of the team here on the installation and what they do on a daily basis. While this is a team effort, it’s my name on the sign, and I promise you I will continue to give 100% and then some.”

Tom Barfoot, who flew helicopters during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, also spoke to the installation’s unique capabilities. 

“What a great installation,” said Barfoot during the anniversary ceremony. “Dad talked fondly of this place, training for World War II before deploying from here. What a good, great facility for combined arms training, and that’s the way it is today. We have to rely on all the services to get the job done.”

The ceremony also featured a cake cutting featuring Barfoot and the youngest Soldier in attendance. 

Barfoot was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1944 for his actions near Carano, Italy, as a technical sergeant in the 45th Infantry Division, as he battled against German soldiers and tanks. His Medal of Honor citation can be read at He served through the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and eventually became an accomplished aviator, and is a member of the Fort Novosel, Alabama, Aviation Hall of Fame. 

He also has strong connections to the Virginia National Guard as well as the installation which now bears his name. He served two different times as an advisor to Virginia National Guard units. In the 1950s, he served as an advisor to the 116th Infantry Regiment and later was the Senior Army Advisor to the Virginia National Guard until his retirement in 1974. Those jobs brought him to Fort Pickett for training with VNG units on multiple occasions.

“I served as senior advisor for the state of Virginia National Guard for four years. I love them, they’re dedicated people,” Barfoot said during an interview, part of the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. “I’ll tell you, the greatest asset we have now is our National Guard. They’re just complete Soldiers.”

According to the same interview, Barfoot briefly trained at what was then Camp Pickett with the 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, the unit he fought with in Italy, prior to shipping out for Europe during World War II.   

Barfoot passed away in 2012 at the age of 92. In addition to being the new namesake of the VNG installation, a portion of a highway near his place of birth in Mississippi is also dedicated in his honor. There is also a Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center in Richmond, Virginia, operated by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, of which Barfoot was incredibly proud. 

“He passionately pursued the creation of a Veterans nursing facility in central Virginia,” said Nicholls during the original redesignation ceremony. “I remember how he was overcome with emotion when he was told that it would bear his name.” 

Fort Barfoot sits on about 41,000 acres and is operated by the Virginia National Guard, which took control of the post in 1997. Built during World War II and originally named Camp Pickett, It features a combination of open-terrain and wooded maneuver areas, more than 20 ranges capable of training on nearly every Army weapons system, a rail spur and a C-17 capable airfield and restricted airspace to 18,000 feet. It also boasts a forward operating base, multiple training villages and a Combined Arms Collective Training Facility, Fort Barfoot’s urban operations training facility. 

News Archive by Category

All Entries