Harvey “Barney” Barnum is a retired Marine Corps officer, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Vietnam War. After retiring from the Marine Corps. he was named Principal Director, Drug Enforcement Policy, office of the Secretary of Defense and then Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Reserve Affairs. He later served as Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs).
Barnum was born in Cheshire, Connecticut, and graduated from St. Anselm College, where joined the Marine Corps’ Platoon Leaders Class program.
As a 1st lieutenant in Vietnam, he was leading a unit was pinned down by heavy and accurate enemy fire that killed his company commander and radio operator. Barnum first gave aid to his dying commander and then, taking command himself, moved into the midst of heavy fire, encouraging and reorganizing his fellow Marines before leading their attack on the enemy. Exposing himself to enemy fire, he brandished a .45 caliber handgun and told his troops to follow him on a successful counterattack. Finally, he directed the landing of two transport helicopters for the evacuation of the dead and wounded.
For this, he received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for military valor in combat, in 1967. The citation reads, “His gallant initiative and heroic conduct reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.” Barnum later became the first Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam to return for another tour.
Barnum is a past president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. In 2023, the U.S. Navy commissioned a new destroyer, The USS Harvey C. Barnum Jr.