David B. Barkley
David Bennes Barkley
David Bennes Barkley
|Born||March 31, 1899|
|Died||November 9, 1918 (aged 19)|
Meuse River, France
|Place of burial|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1917 - 1918|
|Unit||356th Infantry Regiment, 89th Division|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Croix de Guerre
Croce al Merito di Guerra
David Bennes Barkley, also known as David B. Barkeley Cantu (March 31, 1899 – November 9, 1918), was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during World War I in France. After successfully completing a scouting mission behind enemy lines he drowned while swimming back across the Meuse River.
Barkley was born in Laredo, Webb County, Texas to Joseph S. Barkley and the former Antonia Cantu. Joseph was a career Soldier, and the couple married in Starr County, TX while Joseph was stationed at Ft Ringgold, TX. Deployed to Puerto Rico shortly after David's birth, the family remained in Texas. David grew up with his Mexican-American mother and younger sister while his father remained in the Army. David first enlisted in the Texas National Guard, entering the U.S. Army in April 1917, shortly after the U.S. entered World War I. He enlisted under his legal name, though some claim he used his Anglo father's name only to avoid being segregated into a non-combat unit.  Segregated units, however, not only applied to African Americans in the Army at that time but also to Hispanics according to U.S. Army regulations. It was not until May 1917 when an Act of Congress passed to increase needed manpower to allow Hispanics to join in the fight. 
Arriving in France with the 155th Infantry in August 1918, he was later assigned to Company A, 356th Infantry, 89th Division. Only days before the Armistice, he volunteered for a mission with Sergeant M. Waldo Hatler to swim across the Meuse River near Pouilly-sur-Meuse to get behind German lines and gather information about troop strength and deployments. They were able to gather the needed information; however, returning across the river, Barkley was "seized with cramps and drowned". (This is the exact wording from his citation, duplicated below.) Sergeant Hatler survived to bring the information back to their unit.
Barkley was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, one of three Texans to be awarded the Medal of Honor during World War I. Additionally, France awarded him the Croix de Guerre, and Italy the Croce al Merito di Guerra.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company A, 356th Infantry, 89th Division. Place and date: Near Pouilly, France, November 9, 1918. Entered service at: San Antonio, Tex. Birth: Laredo, Tex. G.O. No.: 20, W.D., 1919. 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.
Barkley has received notable posthumous recognition. In 1921, an elementary school in San Antonio, Texas, was named in his honor. On January 10, 1941, a U.S. Army installation, Camp Barkeley, was also named in his honor. A clerical error resulted in the discrepancy in spelling. His mother attended the dedication ceremony and met with surviving members of his unit, and her photo appeared in several Texas newspapers.
David B. Barkley Plaza
A memorial honoring the forty-one Hispanic soldiers who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor was built in Laredo in 2002 and named for Barkley. The David B. Barkley Plaza has a bronze statue of David B. Barkley and an American flag measuring 100 ft by 50 ft and is 308 ft tall making it the tallest flagpole in the United States. The memorial is located at .
Awards and decorations
David Bennes Barkley's awards and decorations include the following:
- Medal of Honor
- Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster.
- World War I Victory Medal
- French Croix de Guerre with Palm medals (2)
- Croce al Merito di Guerra (War Merit Cross)-Italy
- List of Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients
- List of Medal of Honor recipients
- List of Medal of Honor recipients for World War I
- Private Marcelino Serna who also served in the 86th Division and became the most decorated soldier from Texas in World War I.
- D. López. "Saving Private Aztlan: Preserving the History of Latino Service in Wartime". Diálogo Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-07-19. Retrieved 2006-07-14.
- "Texas Medal of Honor recipients". HomeOfHeroes.com. Retrieved 2006-07-14.
- James M. Myers: David Bennes Barkley, Medal of Honor recipient from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved December 23, 2008.
- Myers, James M. (2005). "Camp Barkeley". Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 2006-07-14.
- "Laredo Morning Times; Monument to medal holders unveiled early". Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
- "There's a Flagpole Spec; The story behind the design and construction of the world's tallest flagpoles" (pdf). Retrieved October 5, 2010.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
 Hispanics in the U.S. Army. 1900. https://www.army.mil/hispanics/history.html
- James M. Myers: Barkley, David Bennes from the Handbook of Texas Online (2001). Retrieved December 23, 2008.
- "Camp Barkeley". Archived from the original on December 13, 2001. Retrieved July 14, 2006.