Pfc. Charles Heyward Barker, US Army, Medal of Honor, Korean War
Pfc. Charles Heyward Barker, US Army, Medal of Honor, Korean War

BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D.  Charles Heyward  Barker was born in Pickens County, South Carolina, on April 12, 1935.  He joined the Army in 1952 and after completing basic training and infantry training was posted to the 7th Infantry Division, Company K of the 17th Infantry Regiment.  In June of 1953 Barker and his platoon were engaged with the rest of the 17th Infantry Regiment in one of the most well-known and hardest fought battles of the Korean War, The Battle of Pork Chop Hill.

Barker, who was a Private at the time, was on patrol with his platoon outside the Pork Chop outpost when they came across a large group of Chinese soldiers digging entrenchments. Barker and another soldier provided covering fire with their rifles and grenades while the rest of the platoon moved to a better position on higher ground. As the fight intensified and ammunition ran low, the platoon was ordered to withdraw to the outpost.

Pfc. Barker moved to an open area firing his rifle and hurling grenades on the hostile positions. As enemy action increased in volume and intensity, mortar bursts fell on friendly positions, ammunition was in critical supply, and the platoon was ordered to withdraw into a perimeter defense preparatory to moving back to the outpost.

Barker volunteered to stay behind and cover the retreat; he was last seen engaging Chinese soldiers in hand-to-hand combat.

Voluntarily electing to cover the retreat, Barker maintained a defense and undoubtedly was responsible for saving the lives of many of his comrades. He was last seen in close hand-to-hand combat with the enemy. Pfc. Barker’s unflinching courage, consummate devotion to duty, and supreme sacrifice enabled the patrol to complete the mission and effect an orderly withdrawal to friendly lines, reflecting lasting glory upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the military service.

Barker was posthumously promoted to private first class and, on June 7, 1955, awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on Pork Chop Hill.

 

 

 

 

 

Medal of Honor citation

Barker’s official Medal of Honor citation reads:

Pfc. Barker, a member of Company K, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and indomitable courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. While participating in a combat patrol engaged in screening an approach to “Pork-Chop Outpost,” Pfc. Barker and his companions surprised and engaged an enemy group digging emplacements on the slope. Totally unprepared, the hostile troops sought cover. After ordering Pfc. Barker and a comrade to lay down a base of fire, the patrol leader maneuvered the remainder of the platoon to a vantage point on higher ground. Pfc. Barker moved to an open area firing his rifle and hurling grenades on the hostile positions. As enemy action increased in volume and intensity, mortar bursts fell on friendly positions, ammunition was in critical supply, and the platoon was ordered to withdraw into a perimeter defense preparatory to moving back to the outpost. Voluntarily electing to cover the retrograde movement, he gallantly maintained a defense and was last seen in close hand-to-hand combat with the enemy. Pfc. Barker’s unflinching courage, consummate devotion to duty, and supreme sacrifice enabled the patrol to complete the mission and effect an orderly withdrawal to friendly lines, reflecting lasting glory upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the military service.

Pfc. Charles H. Barker’s name is engraved in Court Four of the courts of the missing at The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu.

 

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