Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 27 May

There are 17 Medals awarded for actions on this day, with volunteers, bad days in the Navy, an overlooked hero, two iconic jump-on-the-grenade events, and a Corporal who probably lost a bet or something.

By G007america – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=94008342

Civil War Soldiers who forgot the cardinal rule – never volunteer – the USS Cincinnati has a very bad day, and Corporal Johnson must have lost a “rock-paper-scissors” contest.

DELAND, Frederick N RANK: PRIVATE UNIT/COMMAND: COMPANY B, 49TH MASSACHUSETTS INFANTRY DATE: MAY 27, 1863 PLACE: PORT HUDSON, LOUISIANA, USA
CITATION: Volunteered in response to a call and, under a heavy fire from the enemy, advanced and assisted in filling with fascines a ditch which presented a serious obstacle to the troops attempting to take the works of the enemy by assault.

JOHNS, Henry T RANK: PRIVATE (HIGHEST RANK: FIRST LIEUTENANT) UNIT/COMMAND: COMPANY C, 49TH MASSACHUSETTS INFANTRY DATE: MAY 27, 1863 PLACE: PORT HUDSON, LOUISIANA, USA
CITATION: Volunteered in response to a call and took part in the movement that was made upon the enemy’s works under a heavy fire therefrom in advance of the general assault.

STRONG, James N. RANK: SERGEANT (HIGHEST RANK: SECOND LIEUTENANT) UNIT/COMMAND: COMPANY C, 49TH MASSACHUSETTS INFANTRY DATE: MAY 27, 1863 PLACE: PORT HUDSON, LOUISIANA, USA
CITATION: Volunteered in response to a call and took part in the movement that was made upon the enemy’s works under a heavy fire therefrom in advance of the general assault.

**WARREN, Francis E RANK: CORPORAL UNIT/COMMAND: COMPANY C, 49TH MASSACHUSETTS INFANTRY DATE: MAY 27, 1863 PLACE: PORT HUDSON, LOUISIANA, USA
CITATION: Volunteered in response to a call and took part in the movement that was made upon the enemy’s works under a heavy fire therefrom in advance of the general assault.

BOIS, Frank RANK: QUARTERMASTER UNIT/COMMAND: U.S.S. CINCINNATI DATE: MAY 27, 1863 PLACE: VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI, USA
CITATION: Served as quartermaster on board the U.S.S. Cincinnati during the attack on the Vicksburg batteries and at the time of her sinking, 27 May 1863. Engaging the enemy in a fierce battle, the Cincinnati, amidst an incessant fire of shot and shell, continued to fire her guns to the last, though so penetrated by enemy shellfire that her fate was sealed. Conspicuously cool in making signals throughout the battle, Bois, after all the Cincinnati’s staffs had been shot away, succeeded in nailing the flag to the stump of the forestaff to enable this proud ship to go down, “with her colors nailed to the mast.”

CORCORAN, Thomas E RANK: LANDSMAN UNIT/COMMAND: U.S.S. CINCINNATI DATE: MAY 27, 1863 PLACE: VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI, USA
CITATION: Served on board the U.S.S. Cincinnati during the attack on the Vicksburg batteries and at the time of her sinking, 27 May 1863. Engaging the enemy in a fierce battle, the Cincinnati, amidst an incessant fire of shot and shell, continued to fire her guns to the last, though so penetrated by shellfire that her fate was sealed. Serving bravely during this action, Corcoran was conspicuously cool under the fire of the enemy, never ceasing to fight until this proud ship went down, “her colors nailed to the mast.”

DOW, Henry RANK: BOATSWAIN’S MATE UNIT/COMMAND: U.S.S. CINCINNATI MAY 27, 1863 PLACE: VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI, USA
CITATION: Served on board the U.S.S. Cincinnati during the attack on the Vicksburg batteries and at the time of her sinking, 27 May 1863. Engaging the enemy in a fierce battle, the Cincinnati, amidst an incessant fire of shot and shell, continued to fire her guns to the last, though so penetrated by shellfire that her fate was sealed. Serving bravely during this action, Dow was conspicuously cool under the fire of the enemy, never ceasing to fight until this proud ship went down, “her colors nailed to the mast.”

HAMILTON, Thomas W RANK: QUARTERMASTER UNIT/COMMAND: U.S.S. CINCINNATI DATE: MAY 27, 1863 PLACE: VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI, USA
CITATION: Served as quartermaster on board the U.S.S. Cincinnati during the attack on the Vicksburg batteries and at the time of her sinking, 27 May 1863. Engaging the enemy in a fierce battle, the Cincinnati, amidst an incessant fire of shot and shell, continued to fire her guns to the last although so penetrated by enemy shell fire that her fate was sealed. Conspicuously gallant during this action, Hamilton, severely wounded at the wheel, returned to his post and had to be sent down below, to hear the incessant roar of guns as the gallant ship went down, “her colors nailed to the mast.”

JENKINS, Thomas RANK: SEAMAN UNIT/COMMAND: U.S.S. CINCINNATI DATE: MAY 27, 1863 PLACE: VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI, USA
CITATION: Served on board the U.S.S. Cincinnati during the attack on the Vicksburg batteries and at the time of her sinking, 27 May 1863. Engaging the enemy in a fierce battle, the Cincinnati, amidst an incessant fire of shot and shell, continued to fire her guns to the last, though so penetrated by shell fire that her fate was sealed. Serving bravely during this action, Jenkins was conspicuously cool under the fire of the enemy, never ceasing to fight until this proud ship went down, “her colors nailed to the mast.”

MCHUGH, Martin RANK: SEAMAN UNIT/COMMAND: U.S.S. CINCINNATI DATE: MAY 27, 1863 PLACE: VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI, USA
CITATION: Served on board the U.S.S. Cincinnati during the attack on the Vicksburg batteries and at the time of her sinking, 27 May 1863. Engaging the enemy in a fierce battle, the Cincinnati, amidst an incessant fire of shot and shell, continued to fire her guns to the last, though so penetrated by shellfire that her fate was sealed. Serving bravely during this action, McHugh was conspicuously cool under the fire of the enemy, never ceasing to fire until this proud ship went down, “her colors nailed to the mast.”

JOHNSON, Follett RANK: CORPORAL UNIT/COMMAND: COMPANY H, 60TH NEW YORK INFANTRY DATE: MAY 27, 1864 PLACE: NEW HOPE CHURCH, GEORGIA, USA
CITATION: Voluntarily exposed himself to the fire of a Confederate sharpshooter, thus drawing fire upon himself and enabling his comrade to shoot the sharpshooter.

PUTNAM, Edgar P RANK: SERGEANT (HIGHEST RANK: BREVET MAJOR, NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS) UNIT/COMMAND: COMPANY D, 9TH NEW YORK CAVALRY DATE: MAY 27, 1864 PLACE: CRUMPS CREEK, VIRGINIA, USA
CITATION: With a small force on a reconnaissance, drove off a strong body of the enemy, charged into another force of the enemy’s cavalry and stampeded them, taking 27 prisoners.

RUTHERFORD, John T RANK: FIRST LIEUTENANT (HIGHEST RANK: BREVET MAJOR) UNIT/COMMAND: COMPANY L, 9TH NEW YORK CAVALRY DATE: MAY 27, 1864 PLACE: YELLOW TAVERN & HANOVERTOWN, VIRGINIA, USA
CITATION: Made a successful charge at Yellow Tavern, Va., 11 May 1864, by which 90 prisoners were captured. On 27 May 1864, in a gallant dash on a superior force of the enemy and a personal encounter, captured his opponent.

INTERIM AWARDS 1871 – 1899

CUTTER, George W RANK: LANDSMAN UNIT/COMMAND: U.S.S. POWHATAN DATE: MAY 27, 1872 PLACE: NORFOLK, VIRGINIA, USA
CITATION: On board the U.S.S. Powhatan, Norfolk, Va., 27 May 1872. Jumping overboard on this date, Cutter aided in saving one of the crew of that vessel from drowning.

WWII: PFC (later Staff Sergeant) Lara’s award was made in 2014, resulting from a review of awards for possibly having been downgraded due to racial prejudice that has resulted in several new awards.

*LARA, Salvador J RANK: PRIVATE FIRST CLASS UNIT/COMMAND: 2D PLATOON, COMPANY L, 180TH INFANTRY, 45TH INFANTRY DIVISION DATE: MAY 27 – 28, 1944 PLACE: APRILIA, ITALY
CITATION: Private First Class Salvador J. Lara distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as the Squad Leader of a rifle squad with 2d Platoon, Company L, 180th Infantry, 45th Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Aprilia, Italy on May 27 and 28, 1944. On the afternoon of the 27th, Private First Class Lara aggressively led his rifle squad in neutralizing multiple enemy strongpoints and in inflicting large numbers of casualties on the enemy. Having taken his initial objective, Private First Class Lara noticed that the unit to his right was meeting stiff resistance from a large, well-entrenched enemy force in a deep ditch. Private First Class Lara quickly gathered three men and attacked a wide section of the enemy position, killing four, forcing fifteen others to surrender and causing two enemy mortar crews to abandon their weapons. His fearless and efficient performance enabled both his own unit and the unit to his right to continue to their objective. The next morning, as his company resumed the attack, Private First Class Lara sustained a severe leg wound, but did not stop to receive first aid. His company suffered heavy casualties as a result of withering machinegun fire coming from an enemy strongpoint on the right flank. After requesting permission to destroy the enemy machineguns armed only with a Browning Automatic Rifle, Private First Class Lara crawled alone toward the nearest machinegun. Despite his painful wound and the extreme danger of the task, he rose and fearlessly charged the nest, killing the crew members. Another machinegun opened fire on him, but he quickly neutralized this weapon with accurate fire from his Browning, killing three more of the enemy. His aggressive attack forced two other machinegun crews to flee their weapons. After rejoining his company, Private First Class Lara continued his exemplary performance until he captured his objective. Private First Class Lara’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

Promoted to Staff Sergeant, SSGT Lara survived his Medal action, but died on September 1, 1945, shortly after World War II ended, while serving with the 602d Ordnance Armament Maintenance Battalion in France.

Vietnam

*FLEEK, Charles C RANK: SERGEANT UNIT/COMMAND: COMPANY C, 1ST BATTALION, 27TH INFANTRY, 25TH INFANTRY DIVISION DATE: MAY 27, 1967 PLACE: BINH DUONG PROVINCE, REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM
CITATION: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Fleek distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader in Company C, during an ambush operation. Sgt. Fleek’s unit was deployed in ambush locations when a large enemy force approached the position. Suddenly, the leading enemy element, sensing the ambush, halted and started to withdraw. Reacting instantly, Sgt. Fleek opened fire and directed the effective fire of his men upon the numerically superior enemy force. During the fierce battle that followed, an enemy soldier threw a grenade into the squad position. Realizing that his men had not seen the grenade, Sgt. Fleek, although in a position to seek cover, shouted a warning to his comrades and threw himself onto the grenade, absorbing its blast. His gallant action undoubtedly saved the lives or prevented the injury of at least eight of his fellow soldiers. Sgt. Fleek’s gallantry and willing self-sacrifice were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

*PHIPPS, Jimmy W Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps, Company B, 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Rein), FMF. Place and date: Near An Hoa, Republic of Vietnam, 27 May 1969. Entered service at: Culver City, Calif. Born: 1 November 1950, Santa Monica, Calif.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a combat engineer with Company B in connection with combat operations against the enemy. Pfc. Phipps was a member of a 2-man combat engineer demolition team assigned to locate and destroy enemy artillery ordnance and concealed firing devices. After he had expended all of his explosives and blasting caps, Pfc. Phipps discovered a 175mm high explosive artillery round in a rice paddy. Suspecting that the enemy had attached the artillery round to a secondary explosive device, he warned other marines in the area to move to covered positions and prepared to destroy the round with a hand grenade. As he was attaching the hand grenade to a stake beside the artillery round, the fuse of the enemy’s secondary explosive device ignited. Realizing that his assistant and the platoon commander were both within a few meters of him and that the imminent explosion could kill all 3 men, Pfc. Phipps grasped the hand grenade to his chest and dived forward to cover the enemy’s explosive and the artillery round with his body, thereby shielding his companions from the detonation while absorbing the full and tremendous impact with his body. Pfc. Phipps’ indomitable courage, inspiring initiative, and selfless devotion to duty saved the lives of 2 marines and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country .

No big battle that entered the history books. No pivotal action where the outcome lay in the balance.

Sergeant Fleek’s and PFC Phipps’ legacy is that of the lives led by the buddies they saved that day, and the people they inspired and touched before that moment they jumped into eternity… and now – you.

*Asterisk indicates a posthumous award.
**If the name Francis E Warren seems familiar (or, more likely, F.E. Warren) that’s because President Hoover in 1930 renamed Fort Russel, Wyoming to “Fort Francis E. Warren,” to honor Wyoming’s territorial and first state governor. Warren, who was awarded his Medal at the age of 19, was also a U.S. Senator for 37 years, dying in office in November 1929 at the age of 85. Fort Warren is now “F.E. Warren Air Force Base, home to 20th Air Force and a missile wing.

Published by The Armorer

A grumpy old Cincinnatus who feeds goats, dogs, cats, ducks, peafowl, a horse, and sundry avians, especially in the winter. From time to time you will see guns. Until such time as the Progressives repeal the 2nd Amendment, everything you see is legal, Federal, State, Local, where I live. Your progressive paradise may have different rules. Don't project them onto me. Federalism still exists, even if it is but a shadow of what the Framers intended.

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