Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 31 July

Medal of Honor recipient and SciFi hero Rodger W Young. Courtesy the CMOHS.

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.

Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 30 July

Medal of Honor recipient Joseph W Ozbourn. Courtesy the CMOHS.

We start with the Civil War, and 23 Medals for the Battle of the Crater (warning – turn your sound down, annoying music). , plus two others for other fights. There are two more Medals for actions at The Crater, which were awarded for multiple actions. I will list those on the day of the last action the Medal was issued for.

The Civil War has several battles where a large number of Medals are awarded – because not only was the Medal new (it was established in 1863) it was the *only* award of it’s type. So, today, many of these Medals would be covered by the Bronze Star with V, Silver Star and Distinguished Service Cross. There is another thing to consider, especially when comparing to the current environment of the Global War On Terror/Contingency Operations – in the Civil War, the big fights had tens of thousands of people closing, or attempting to close, to hand-to-hand combat. In the post-invasion-of-Iraq fighting rarely do you have a thousand combatants in a fight (2nd Fallujah is a good example) the fights are usually small unit actions, involving fewer than 100 troops combined. There are both fewer people engaged and fewer people observing the engagements. There are simply many Medal moments that… no one noticed. Continue reading “Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 30 July”

Today’s Medal of Honor Post for 29 July

Medal of Honor recipient Hulon B Whittington. Courtesy the CMOHS.
We open with the Civil War and the Battle of Brown’s Mill, where Confederate (and later, during the SpanAm War, Federal) General Joe Wheeler’s cavalry schooled Union cavalry under General Edward McCook near  Newnan, Georgia, bringing a disastrous end to Sherman’s attempt to neatly snip Atlanta from it’s logisitics, forcing a siege.  McCook lost over 1200 troopers killed or captured, to Wheeler’s…. 50.

HEALEY, GEORGE W.

Rank and organization: Private, Company E, 5th Iowa Cavalry. Place and date: At Newnan, Ga., 29 July 1864. Entered service at: Dubuque, Iowa. Birth: Dubuque, Iowa. Date of issue: 13 January 1899. Citation: When nearly surrounded by the enemy, captured a Confederate soldier, and with the aid of a comrade who joined him later, captured 4 other Confederate soldiers, disarmed the 5 prisoners, and brought them all into the Union lines.

The Medal takes a long break, resurfacing again during WWII, with fights in Philippines, New Georgia, and France.  These three fights are evidence of my contention that wars are won by companies, they can be lost by anyone.

MAYFIELD, MELVIN

Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Company D, 20th Infantry, 6th Infantry Division. Place and date: Cordillera Mountains, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 29 July 1945. Entered service at: Nashport, Ohio. Birth: Salem, W. Va. G.O. No.: 49, 31 May 1946. Citation: He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while fighting in the Cordillera Mountains of Luzon, Philippine Islands. When 2 Filipino companies were pinned down under a torrent of enemy fire that converged on them from a circular ridge commanding their position, Cpl. Mayfield, in a gallant single-handed effort to aid them, rushed from shell hole to shell hole until he reached 4 enemy caves atop the barren fire-swept hill. With grenades and his carbine, he assaulted each of the caves while enemy fire pounded about him. However, before he annihilated the last hostile redoubt, a machinegun bullet destroyed his weapon and slashed his left hand. Disregarding his wound, he secured more grenades and dauntlessly charged again into the face of pointblank fire to help destroy a hostile observation post. By his gallant determination and heroic leadership, Cpl. Mayfield inspired the men to eliminate all remaining pockets of resistance in the area and to press the advance against the enemy.

SCOTT, ROBERT S.

Rank and organization: Captain (then Lieutenant), U.S. Army, 172d Infantry, 43d Infantry Division. Place and date. Near Munda Air Strip, New Georgia, Solomon Islands, 29 July 1943. Entered service at. Santa Fe, N. Mex. Birth: Washington, D.C. G.O. No.: 81, 14 October 1944. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty near Munda Airstrip, New Georgia, Solomon Islands, on 29 July 1943. After 27 days of bitter fighting, the enemy held a hilltop salient which commanded the approach to Munda Airstrip. Our troops were exhausted from prolonged battle and heavy casualties, but Lt. Scott advanced with the leading platoon of his company to attack the enemy position, urging his men forward in the face of enemy rifle and enemy machinegun fire. He had pushed forward alone to a point midway across the barren hilltop within 75 yards of the enemy when the enemy launched a desperate counterattack, which f successful would have gained undisputed possession of the hill. Enemy riflemen charged out on the plateau, firing and throwing grenades as they moved to engage our troops. The company withdrew, but Lt. Scott, with only a blasted tree stump for cover, stood his ground against the wild enemy assault. By firing his carbine and throwing the grenades in his possession he momentarily stopped the enemy advance using the brief respite to obtain more grenades. Disregarding small-arms fire and exploding grenades aimed at him, suffering a bullet wound in the left hand and a painful shrapnel wound in the head after his carbine had been shot from his hand, he threw grenade after grenade with devastating accuracy until the beaten enemy withdrew. Our troops, inspired to renewed effort by Lt. Scott’s intrepid stand and incomparable courage, swept across the plateau to capture the hill, and from this strategic position 4 days later captured Munda Airstrip.

WHITTINGTON, HULON B.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, 41st Armored Infantry 2d Armored Division. Place and date: Near Grimesnil, France, 29 July 1944. Entered service at: Bastrop, La. Born: 9 July 1921, Bogalusa, La. G.O. No.: 32, 23 April 1945. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. On the night of 29 July 1944, near Grimesnil, France, during an enemy armored attack, Sgt. Whittington, a squad leader, assumed command of his platoon when the platoon leader and platoon sergeant became missing in action. He reorganized the defense and, under fire, courageously crawled between gun positions to check the actions of his men. When the advancing enemy attempted to penetrate a roadblock, Sgt. Whittington, completely disregarding intense enemy action, mounted a tank and by shouting through the turret, directed it into position to fire pointblank at the leading Mark V German tank. The destruction of this vehicle blocked all movement of the remaining enemy column consisting of over 100 vehicles of a Panzer unit. The blocked vehicles were then destroyed by handgrenades, bazooka, tank, and artillery fire and large numbers of enemy personnel were wiped out by a bold and resolute bayonet charge inspired by Sgt. Whittington. When the medical aid man had become a casualty, Sgt. Whittington personally administered first aid to his wounded men. The dynamic leadership, the inspiring example, and the dauntless courage of Sgt. Whittington, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.

Today’s Medal of Honor Post for 28 July

Medal of Honor recipient John C Morgan. Courtesy the CMOHS.
Today the show opens during the Civil War with four Medals awarded, including one tough Quartermaster and that Civil War classic, the flag capture.

CLARK, JOHN W.

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant and Regimental Quartermaster, 6th Vermont Infantry. Place and date: Near Warrenton, Va., 28 July 1863. Entered service at: Vermont. Born: 21 October 1830, Montpelier, Vt. Date of issue: 17 August 1891. Citation: Defended the division train against a vastly superior force of the enemy; he was severely wounded, but remained in the saddle for 20 hours afterward until he had brought his train through in safety.

DAVIS, HARRY

Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 46th Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At Atlanta, Ga., 28 July 1864. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Franklin County, Ohio. Date of issue: 2 December 1864. Citation: Capture of flag of 30th Louisiana Infantry (C.S.A.).

MURPHY, ROBINSON B.

Rank and organization: Musician, Company A, 127th Illinois Infantry. Place and date: At Atlanta, Ga., 28 July 1864. Entered service at: Oswego, Kendall County, Ill. Birth: Oswego, Kendall County, Ill. Date of issue: 22 July 1890. Citation: Being orderly to the brigade commander, he voluntarily led two regiments as reinforcements into line of battle, where he had his horse shot under him.

O’CONNOR, TIMOTHY

Rank and Organization: Private (Highest rank, Sergeant) Company E, 1ST U.S. Cavalry DATE: JULY 28, 1864 PLACE: NEAR MALVERN, VIRGINIA, USA
CITATION: Capture of flag of the 18th North Carolina Infantry (C.S.A.).

TORGLER, ERNST

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company G, 37th Ohio Infantry Place and date: At Ezra Chapel, Ga., 28 July 1864. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: 10 May 1894. Citation: At great hazard of his life he saved his commanding officer, then badly wounded, from capture.

Continue reading “Today’s Medal of Honor Post for 28 July”

Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 27 July

Medal of Honor recipient Frank J Petrarca. Courtesy the CMOHS.
The Medal makes it’s first appearance during the War with Spain, with some sailors doing some mine-clearing.

MORIN, WILLIAM H.

Rank and organization: Boatswain’s Mate Second Class, U.S. Navy. Born: 23 May 1869, England. G.O. No.: 500, 14 December 1898. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Marblehead at the approaches to Caimanera, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 26 and 27 July 1898. Displaying heroism, Morin took part in the perilous work of sweeping for and disabling 27 contact mines during this period.

SPICER, WILLIAM

Rank and organization: Gunner’s Mate First Class, U.S. Navy. Born: 28 May 1864, England. Accredited to. New York. G.O. No.: 500, 14 December 1898. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Marblehead at the approaches to Caimanera, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 26 and 27 July 1898. Displaying heroism, Spicer took part in the perilous work of sweeping for and disabling 27 contact mines during this period.

SUNDQUIST, AXEL

Rank and organization: Chief Carpenter’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 26 May 1867, Furland, Russia. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 500, 19 December 1898. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Marblehead at the approaches to Caimanera, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 26 and 27 July 1898. Displaying heroism, Sundquist took part in the perilous work of sweeping for and disabling 27 contact mines during this period.

TRIPLETT, SAMUEL

Rank and organization: Ordinary Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 18 December 1869, Chenokeeke, Kans. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 500, 14 December 1898. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Marblehead at the approaches to Caimanera, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 26 and 27 July 1898. Displaying heroism, Triplett took part in the perilous work of sweeping for and disabling 27 contact mines during this period.

The Medal bides it’s time until World War II, on New Georgia, in the Pacific.  I must admit, the closing line of PFC Petrarca’s citation jars harshly to these ears, echoing as it does the great lie – Dulce Et Decorum Est, Pro Patria Mori.

*PETRARCA, FRANK J.

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Medical Detachment, 145th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division. Place and date: At Horseshoe Hill, New Georgia, Solomon Islands, 27 July 1943. Entered service at: Cleveland, Ohio. Birth: Cleveland, Ohio. G.O. No.: 86, 23 December 1943. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Petrarca advanced with the leading troop element to within 100 yards of the enemy fortifications where mortar and small-arms fire caused a number of casualties. Singling out the most seriously wounded, he worked his way to the aid of Pfc. Scott, Iying within 75 yards of the enemy, whose wounds were so serious that he could not even be moved out of the direct line of fire Pfc Petrarca fearlessly administered first aid to Pfc. Scott and 2 other soldiers and shielded the former until his death. On 29 July 1943, Pfc. Petrarca. during an intense mortar barrage, went to the aid of his sergeant who had been partly buried in a foxhole under the debris of a shell explosion, dug him out, restored him to consciousness and caused his evacuation. On 31 July 1943 and against the warning of a fellow soldier, he went to the aid of a mortar fragment casualty where his path over the crest of a hill exposed him to enemy observation from only 20 yards distance. A target for intense knee mortar and automatic fire, he resolutely worked his way to within 2 yards of his objective where he was mortally wounded by hostile mortar fire. Even on the threshold of death he continued to display valor and contempt for the foe, raising himself to his knees, this intrepid soldier shouted defiance at the enemy, made a last attempt to reach his wounded comrade and fell in glorious death.

*Indicates a posthumous award.

Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 26 July

Medal of Honor recipient Louis H Wilson, Jr. Courtesy the CMOHS.

The Medal waits until 1876 to show itself, during the Interim Awards, 1871-1898 period, with a sailor saving a drowning shipmate.  This is another of those circumstances where today they would be awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism not involving combat.  I know for you regular readers that gets a little tiresome to read – but take one for the Googlers, who may read only one in the whole series.

COREY, WILLIAM

Rank and organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1853, New York, N.Y. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 215, 9 August 1876. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Plymouth, Navy Yard, New York, 26 July 1876. Showing heroic conduct, Corey endeavored to save the life of one of the crew of that ship who had fallen overboard from aloft.

GIDDING, CHARLES

Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1853, Bangor, Maine. Accredited to: Maine. G.O. No.: 215, 9 August 1876. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Plymouth, Gidding showed heroic conduct in trying to save the life of one of the crew of that ship, who had fallen overboard from aloft at the Navy Yard, New York, 26 July 1876.

KERSEY, THOMAS

Rank and organization: Ordinary Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1847, St. Johns, Newfoundland. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 215, 9 August 1876. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Plymouth at the Navy Yard, New York, 26 July 1876, Kersey displayed bravery and presence of mind in rescuing from drowning one of the crew of that vessel.

We move on to the Philippine Insurrection. Continue reading “Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 26 July”