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First Name: David

Last Name: Barkley

Birthplace: Laredo, TX, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: San Antonio, TX
Middle Name: Bennes

Date of Birth: 31 March 1899

Date of Death: 09 November 1918

Rank: Private

Years Served: 1917 - 1918
David Bennes Barkley

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)


David Bennes Barkley

Private, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War I

Private David Bennes Barkley (often spelled Barkeley) (31 March 1899 - 9 November 1918), was a U.S. Army soldier who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War I. He was one of three Texans to be awarded the Medal of Honor in World War I.

David Bennes Barkley was born on 31 March 1899 in Laredo, TX, to Josef and Antonia (Cantú) Barkley, and grew up with his Mexican-American mother. He enlisted in the Army when the U.S. entered what was then known as the Great War. He used his Anglo father's name to avoid being segregated into a non-combat unit.

As a part of Company A, 356th Infantry, 89th Division in France, he and Sergeant M. Waldo Hatler swam 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." Sgt. Hatler survived to bring the information back to their unit. For his heroism, Barkley was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company A, 356th Infantry, 89th Division.

Place and date: Near Pouilly, France, 9 November 1918.

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.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster
Croix de Guerre (France)
Croce al Merito di Guerra (Italy)
World War I Victory Medal


In 1921, an elementary school in San Antonio, TX, was named in his honor.

On 10 January 1941, the U.S. Army installation Camp Barkeley, was named in his honor. A clerical error resulted in the discrepancy in spelling.

When his Hispanic background was discovered in 1989, Barkley was recognized as the U.S. Army's first Hispanic Medal of Honor recipient.

A memorial honoring the 41 Hispanic soldiers who have received the Medal of Honor was built in Laredo, TX, in 2002 and the plaza was named after David B. Barkley. The David B. Barkley Plaza has a bronze statue of David B. Barkley and an American flag measuring 100 feet by 50 feet and is 308 feet tall, making if one of the tallest flagpoles in the United States.

Death and Burial

Private David Bennes Barkley died of drowning on 9 November 1918. Private Barkley lay in state at the Alamo, the second person to ever receive this honor. He was then buried at the San Antonio National Cemetery in San Antonio, TX.

Honoree ID: 1736   Created by: MHOH




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