While they are all important, some Holders resonate beyond their eras and their Medals. Whether by personal character or subsequent events in their lives, their impact is felt beyond the event, and that’s usually only for those who survive the action that earns them the Medal. Today we have a posthumous WWII Holder who’s fame has lasted many many years beyond our current time. In literature, anyway. “On the bounce, troopers!”
The first Medal awarded for this day was awarded for an action in the Civil War, and is iconic of Civil War Medals – a flag capture.
MARSH, CHARLES H.
Rank and organization: Private, Company D, 1st Connecticut Cavalry. Place and date: At Back Creek Valley, Va., 31 July 1864. Entered service at: New Milford, Conn.. Birth: Milford, Conn. Date of issue: 23 January 1865. Citation: Capture of flag and its bearer.
The Medal then took a long break, before surfacing again in WWII Sicily, New Georgia, torpedoing ships in the Pacific, and our very famous Holder – storied in song and literature.
KISTERS, GERRY H.
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant (then Sergeant), U.S. Army, 2d Armored Division. Place and date: Near Gagliano, Sicily, 31 July 1943. Entered service at: Bloomington, Ind. Birth: Salt Lake City, Utah. G.O. No.: 13, 18 February 1944. Citation: On 31 July 1943, near Gagliano, Sicily, a detachment of 1 officer and 9 enlisted men, including Sgt. Kisters, advancing ahead of the leading elements of U.S. troops to fill a large crater in the only available vehicle route through Gagliano, was taken under fire by 2 enemy machineguns. Sgt. Kisters and the officer, unaided and in the face of intense small arms fire, advanced on the nearest machinegun emplacement and succeeded in capturing the gun and its crew of 4. Although the greater part of the remaining small arms fire was now directed on the captured machinegun position, Sgt. Kisters voluntarily advanced alone toward the second gun emplacement. While creeping forward, he was struck 5 times by enemy bullets, receiving wounds in both legs and his right arm. Despite the wounds, he continued to advance on the enemy, and captured the second machinegun after killing 3 of its crew and forcing the fourth member to flee. The courage of this soldier and his unhesitating willingness to sacrifice his life, if necessary, served as an inspiration to the command.
RAMAGE, LAWSON PATERSON
Rank and organization: Commander, U.S. Navy, U.S.S. Parche. Place and date: Pacific, 31 July 1944. Entered service at: Vermont. Born: 19 January 1920, Monroe Bridge, Mass. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Parche in a predawn attack on a Japanese convoy, 31 July 1944. Boldly penetrating the screen of a heavily escorted convoy, Comdr. Ramage launched a perilous surface attack by delivering a crippling stern shot into a freighter and quickly following up with a series of bow and stern torpedoes to sink the leading tanker and damage the second one. Exposed by the light of bursting flares and bravely defiant of terrific shellfire passing close overhead, he struck again, sinking a transport by two forward reloads. In the mounting fury of fire from the damaged and sinking tanker, he calmly ordered his men below, remaining on the bridge to fight it out with an enemy now disorganized and confused. Swift to act as a fast transport closed in to ram, Comdr. Ramage daringly swung the stern of the speeding Parche as she crossed the bow of the onrushing ship, clearing by less than 50 feet but placing his submarine in a deadly crossfire from escorts on all sides and with the transport dead ahead. Undaunted, he sent 3 smashing “down the throat” bow shots to stop the target, then scored a killing hit as a climax to 46 minutes of violent action with the Parche and her valiant fighting company retiring victorious and unscathed.
Now for the futuristically famous Holder. Who shows what men and women of letters can achieve if they wish. Sadly, few among the mainstream these days have an interest in lifting up a common man who had an uncommon moment, and make him a hero. Today, at least, the money comes in either making him a victim, or, if he won’t fit that niche properly, show him to be nothing special, just someone who stumbled into fame, but I digress.
Oh, they’ve got no time for glory in the Infantry.
Oh, they’ve got no use for praises loudly sung.
But in every soldier’s heart in all the Infantry
Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young.
How many among us have read this phrase, over and over again… “Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young!” Finally – if you click this link, you can hear the song that sent the Mobile Infantry of Rasczak’s Roughnecks out the drop tubes – and more importantly, meet Rodger Young. On the bounce, Mr. Rico!
*YOUNG, RODGER W.
Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, 148th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division. Place and date: On New Georgia, Solomon Islands, 31 July 1943. Entered service at: Clyde, Ohio. Birth: Tiffin, Ohio. G.O. No.: 3, 6 January 1944. Citation: On 31 July 1943, the infantry company of which Pvt. Young was a member, was ordered to make a limited withdrawal from the battle line in order to adjust the battalion’s position for the night. At this time, Pvt. Young’s platoon was engaged with the enemy in a dense jungle where observation was very limited. The platoon suddenly was pinned down by intense fire from a Japanese machinegun concealed on higher ground only 75 yards away. The initial burst wounded Pvt. Young. As the platoon started to obey the order to withdraw, Pvt. Young called out that he could see the enemy emplacement, whereupon he started creeping toward it. Another burst from the machinegun wounded him the second time. Despite the wounds, he continued his heroic advance, attracting enemy fire and answering with rifle fire. When he was close enough to his objective, he began throwing handgrenades, and while doing so was hit again and killed. Pvt. Young’s bold action in closing with this Japanese pillbox and thus diverting its fire, permitted his platoon to disengage itself, without loss, and was responsible for several enemy casualties.
*Indicates a posthumous award.