Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 26 June

Medal of Honor recipient Kiyoshi Muranaga. Courtesy the CMOHS.

There are seven Medals awarded for actions on this day, beginning, as we usually do, with the Civil War.  An early instance of “Leave no man behind” as a command philosophy:

WILLIAMS, JOHN

Rank and organization: Captain of the Maintop, U.S. Navy. Born: 1828, New Orleans, La. Accredited to: Louisiana. G.O. No.: 11, 3 April 1863. Citation: Serving as captain of the maintop of the U.S.S. Pawnee in the attack upon Mathias Point, 26 June 1861, Williams told his men, while lying off in the boat, that every man must die on his thwart sooner than leave a man behind. Although wounded by a musket ball in the thigh he retained the charge of his boat; and when the staff was shot away, held the stump in his hand, with the flag, until alongside the Freeborn.

Next, back to the Indian Wars, and the diminuendo of Little Big Horn.  They weren’t listed yesterday because I’ve adopted the convention that when there is more than one covered date on a citation, I’m using the last day as the day for marking the award.  All products of the Reno-Benteen fight, and while they probably would be Bronze Stars with V or Silver Stars today – it still took notable courage to get out of your rifle pit, and attract attention to yourself getting water and bringing it to the wounded.

CALLEN, THOMAS J.

Rank and organization: Private, Company B, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date. At Little Big Horn, Mont., 25-26 June 1876. Entered service at: Boston, Mass. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 24 October 1896. Citation: Volunteered and succeeded in obtaining water for the wounded of the command; also displayed conspicuously good conduct in assisting to drive away the Indians.

GOLDIN, THEODORE W.

Rank and organization: Private, Troop G, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Little Big Horn, Mont., 26 June 1876. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Born: 25 July 1855, Avon, Rock County, Wis. Date of issue: 21 December 1895. Citation: One of a party of volunteers who, under a heavy fire from the Indians, went for and brought water to the wounded .

SCOTT, GEORGE D.

Rank and organization: Private

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, Company D, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Little Big Horn, Mont., 25-26 June 1876. Entered service at: Mt. Vernon, Ky. Birth: Lancaster County, Ky. Date of issue: 5 October 1878. Citation: Voluntarily brought water to the wounded under fire.

STIVERS, THOMAS W.

Rank and organization: Private, Company D, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Little Big Horn, Mont., 25-26 June 1876. Entered service at: Mt. Vernon, Ky. Birth: Madison County, Ky. Date of issue: 5 October 1878. Citation: Voluntarily brought water to the wounded under fire.

WELCH, CHARLES H.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company D, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Little Big Horn, Mont., 25-26 June 1876. Entered service at: Ft. Snelling, Minn. Birth: New York, N.Y. Date of issue 5 October 1878. Citation: Voluntarily brought water to the wounded under fire.

The Medal took a break for awhile, until World War II, with the Nisei of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Italy.  He was originally awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.  Private First Class Muranaga’s award was upgraded to a Medal of Honor as a part of the review of discriminatory practices in the awards process. Unlike Little Big Horn, which is one of the most written-about battles in military history, the fight which turned out to be the probably the most significant event in PFC Muranaga’s life gets short shrift in the official history:

While the campaign had changed little in its most fundamental aspects, the terrain for the first 100 miles north of Rome was not nearly as favorable for the enemy’s defensive purposes as that farther south. The Fourteenth and Tenth Armies did construct two defensive belts across central Italy, the Dora and Trasimeno (Frieda) Lines, in the attempt to halt or at least slow the Allied advance, but both were overrun by the end of June. Despite increasing resistance Allied casualties were low, and by 21 June the Germans had been pushed 110 miles north of Rome, a stunning advance compared to the five months of agonizingly slow and bloody gains the previous spring. Alexander optimistically predicted in late June that at that rate of advance the Allies could take Leghorn, Ancona, and Bologna within weeks and be in the Po valley by late summer, ready for an assault into Austria and the Danube valley.

*MURANAGA, KIYOSHI K.

Private First Class Kiyoshi K. Muranaga distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 26 June 1944, near Suvereto, Italy. Private First Class Muranaga’s company encountered a strong enemy force in commanding positions and with superior firepower. An enemy 88mm self-propelled gun opened direct fire on the company, causing the men to disperse and seek cover. Private First Class Muranaga’s mortar squad was ordered to action, but the terrain made it impossible to set up their weapons. The squad leader, realizing the vulnerability of the mortar position, moved his men away from the gun to positions of relative safety. Because of the heavy casualties being inflicted on his company, Private First Class Muranaga, who served as a gunner, attempted to neutralize the 88mm weapon alone. Voluntarily remaining at his gun position, Private First Class Muranaga manned the mortar himself and opened fire on the enemy gun at a range of approximately 400 yards. With his third round, he was able to correct his fire so that the shell landed directly in front of the enemy gun. Meanwhile, the enemy crew, immediately aware of the source of mortar fire, turned their 88mm weapon directly on Private First Class Muranaga’s position. Before Private First Class Muranaga could fire a fourth round, an 88mm shell scored a direct hit on his position, killing him instantly. Because of the accuracy of Private First Class Muranaga’s previous fire, the enemy soldiers decided not to risk further exposure and immediately abandoned their position. Private First Class Muranaga’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

 

*Indicates a posthumous award.

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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