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.
Support Texas History Now
Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.
Abilene Reporter-News, January 12, 1941. Austin American-Statesman, January 4, 1992. San Antonio Express-News, May 21, 1989. Committee on Veterans' Affairs, United States Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863–1973 (Washington: GPO, 1973).
- Mexican Americans
- Progressive Era
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
James M. Myers, “Barkley, David Bennes,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 28, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/barkley-david-bennes.
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.