There are four Medals awarded for this day, two of which are posthumous. Tomorrow, there will be some awards with multi-day spans which *started* today, but my convention is to use the end-date. Leavenworth has two distinctions regarding the Medal of Honor – we have the second greatest number of Holders buried locally – 20, second only to Arlington National Cemetery, and we used to have two living holders who live here, Colonel(R) Roger Donlon and LTC(R) Chuck Hagemeister, but sadly Chuck passed away unexpectedly last month.
Our first recipient of the Medal for 9 June is one of those who has a local connection to the Castle. He’s buried in Leavenworth National Cemetery.
Port Republic was the culminating battle of Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign of 1862, and was the roughest of the campaign. The National Park Service summarizes it thusly: Jackson concentrated his forces east of the South Fork of the Shenandoah against the isolated brigades of Tyler and Carroll of Shields’s division, Brig. Gen. Erastus Tyler commanding. Confederate assaults across the bottomland were repulsed with heavy casualties, but a flanking column turned the Union left flank at the Coaling. Union counterattacks failed to reestablish the line, and Tyler was forced to retreat. Confederate forces at Cross Keys marched to join Jackson at Port Republic burning the North River Bridge behind them. Frémont’s army arrived too late to assist Tyler and Carroll and watched helplessly from across the rain-swollen river. After these dual defeats at Cross Keys and Port Republic, the Union armies retreated, leaving Jackson in control of the upper and middle Shenandoah Valley and freeing his army to reinforce Lee before Richmond.
It was during those assaults across the bottomlands that Confederate artillery batteries were advanced to facilitate the assault – and were forced to withdraw under extreme pressure – with some of that pressure being provided by Private John Gray of the 5th Ohio –
Rank and organization: Private, Company B, 5th Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At Port Republic, Va., 9 June 1862. Entered service at: Hamilton County, Ohio. Birth: Scotland. Date of issue: 14 March 1864. Citation: Mounted an artillery horse of the enemy and captured a brass 6-pound piece in the face of the enemy’s fire and brought it to the rear.
For a lurid and stirring account of the fighting at Port Republic – click here.
The second award on this day is also a Civil War award – and is interesting for the way the citation reads… the very Victorian Era way the citation reads.
Rank and organization: Captain of the Forecastle, U.S. Navy. Born: 1837, Middletown, Conn. Accredited to: Connecticut. G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864. Citation: Served as captain of the forecastle on board the U.S.S. Dacotah on the occasion of the destruction of the blockade runner Pevensey, near Beauford, N.C., 9 June 1864. “Learning that one of the officers in the boat, which was in danger of being, and subsequently was, swamped, could not swim, Harding remarked to him: ‘If we are swamped, sir, I shall carry you to the beach or I will never go there myself.’ He did not succeed in carrying out his promise, but made desperate efforts to do so, while others thought only of themselves. Such conduct is worthy of appreciation and admiration–a sailor risking his own life to save that of an officer.”
Now we advance to World War II and the Normandy Campaign. Private First Class DeGlopper gave his life for his comrades – but did so hard.
*DEGLOPPER, CHARLES N.
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Co. C, 325th Glider Infantry, 82d Airborne Division. Place and date: Merderet River at la Fiere, France, 9 June 1944. Entered service at: Grand Island, N.Y. Birth: Grand Island, N.Y. G.O. No.: 22, 28 February 1946. Citation: He was a member of Company C, 325th Glider Infantry, on 9 June 1944 advancing with the forward platoon to secure a bridgehead across the Merderet River at La Fiere, France. At dawn the platoon had penetrated an outer line of machineguns and riflemen, but in so doing had become cut off from the rest of the company. Vastly superior forces began a decimation of the stricken unit and put in motion a flanking maneuver which would have completely exposed the American platoon in a shallow roadside ditch where it had taken cover. Detecting this danger, Pfc. DeGlopper volunteered to support his comrades by fire from his automatic rifle while they attempted a withdrawal through a break in a hedgerow 40 yards to the rear. Scorning a concentration of enemy automatic weapons and rifle fire, he walked from the ditch onto the road in full view of the Germans, and sprayed the hostile positions with assault fire. He was wounded, but he continued firing. Struck again, he started to fall; and yet his grim determination and valiant fighting spirit could not be broken. Kneeling in the roadway, weakened by his grievous wounds, he leveled his heavy weapon against the enemy and fired burst after burst until killed outright. He was successful in drawing the enemy action away from his fellow soldiers, who continued the fight from a more advantageous position and established the first bridgehead over the Merderet. In the area where he made his intrepid stand his comrades later found the ground strewn with dead Germans and many machineguns and automatic weapons which he had knocked out of action. Pfc. DeGlopper’s gallant sacrifice and unflinching heroism while facing unsurmountable odds were in great measure responsible for a highly important tactical victory in the Normandy Campaign.
In 2014, a review of awards for possibly having been downgraded due to racial prejudice resulted in several new awards. This is one of them, and the abbreviated citation is not unsual with those awards.
*GANDARA, Joe RANK: PRIVATE UNIT/COMMAND: COMPANY D, 2D BATTALION, 507TH PARACHUTE INFANTRY REGIMENT, 17TH AIRBORNE DIVISION DATE: JUNE 9, 1944 PLACE: AMFREVILLE, FRANCE
CITATION: Private Joe Gandara distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company D, 2d Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Amfreville, France on June 9, 1944. On that day, Private Gandara’s detachment came under devastating enemy fire from a strong German force, pinning the men to the ground for a period of four hours. Private Gandara voluntarily advanced alone toward the enemy position. Firing his machinegun from his hip as he moved forward, he destroyed three hostile machineguns before he was fatally wounded. Private Gandara’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, 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.
*Indicates postuhumous award.