There are seven Medals awarded for actions on this day in history. We open with a naval engagement on the Yazoo River, with a crewman of the USS Carondelet against the Confederate ram CSS Arkansas.
MORRISON, JOHN G.
Rank and organization: Coxswain, U.S. Navy. Entered service at: Lansingburg, N.Y. Born: 3 November 1842, Ireland G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Serving as coxswain on board the U.S.S. Carondelet, Morrison was commended for meritorious conduct in general and especially for his heroic conduct and his inspiring example to the crew in the engagement with the rebel ram Arkansas, Yazoo River, 15 July 1862. When the Carondelet was badly cut up, several of her crew killed, many wounded and others almost suffocated from the effects of escaped steam, Morrison was the leader when boarders were called on deck, and the first to return to the guns and give the ram a broadside as she passed. His presence of mind in time of battle or trial is reported as always conspicuous and encouraging.
Interim Awards, 1866-1870. Another naval award for saving a man from drowning. Today this would be awarded as the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, for heroism not involving combat.
Rank and organizarion: Captain of the Afterguard, U.S. Navy. Born: 17 May 1837, Norway. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 77, 1 August 1866. Citation: For heroic efforts to save from drowning Wellington Brocar, landsman, of the Tallapoosa, off New Orleans, 15 July 1866.
Interim Awards 1871-1898. Another pair of Navy and Marine Corps Medals, were they to be awarded today. They are uncharacteristically wordy citations for this team effort.
BUCHANAN, DAVID M.
Rank and organization: Apprentice, U.S. Navy. Born: 1862, Philadelphia, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 246, 22 July 1879. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Saratoga off Battery, New York Harbor, 15 July 1879. On the morning of this date, Robert Lee Robey, apprentice, fell overboard from the after part of the ship into the tide which was running strong ebb at the time and, not being an expert swimmer, was in danger of drowning. Instantly springing over the rail after him, Buchanan never hesitated for an instant to remove even a portion of his clothing. Both men were picked up by the ship’s boat following this act of heroism.
Rank and organization: Apprentice, U.S. Navy. Born: 1863, Washington, D.C. Accredited to: Washington, D.C. G.O. No.: 246, 22 July 1879. Citation: On board the U.S. Training Ship Saratoga. On the morning of 15 July 1879, while the Saratoga was anchored off the Battery, in New York Harbor, R. L. Robey, apprentice, fell overboard. As the tide was running strong ebb, the man, not being an expert swimmer, was in danger of drowning. David M. Buchanan, apprentice, instantly, without removing any of his clothing, jumped after him. Stripping himself, Hayden stood coolly watching the 2 in the water, and when he thought his services were required, made a dive from the rail and came up alongside them and rendered assistance until all 3 were picked up by a boat from the ship.
We move along to World War I and a Gunner of the 10th FA. It worked out well for Lieutenant Hays, who went on to command the 10th Mountain Division in WWII and retired with 3 Stars on his collar points.
HAYS, GEORGE PRICE
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army 10th Field Artillery, 3d Division. Place and date: Near Greves Farm, France, 14-15 July 1918. Entered service at: Okarche, Oklahoma. Born: 27 September 1892, China. G.O. No.: 34, W.D., 1919. Citation: At the very outset of the unprecedented artillery bombardment by the enemy, his line of communication was destroyed beyond repair. Despite the hazard attached to the mission of runner, he immediately set out to establish contact with the neighboring post of command and further establish liaison with 2 French batteries, visiting their position so frequently that he was mainly responsible for the accurate fire therefrom. While thus engaged, 7 horses were shot under him and he was severely wounded. His activity under most severe fire was an important factor in checking the advance of the enemy.
We skip ahead now to World War II, and the Italian Theater, and on of those many Medals awarded to the Japanese-Americans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
Staff Sergeant Kazuo Otani distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 15 July 1944, near Pieve Di S. Luce, Italy. Advancing to attack a hill objective, Staff Sergeant Otani’s platoon became pinned down in a wheat field by concentrated fire from enemy machine gun and sniper positions. Realizing the danger confronting his platoon, Staff Sergeant Otani left his cover and shot and killed a sniper who was firing with deadly effect upon the platoon. Followed by a steady stream of machine gun bullets, Staff Sergeant Otani then dashed across the open wheat field toward the foot of a cliff, and directed his men to crawl to the cover of the cliff. When the movement of the platoon drew heavy enemy fire, he dashed along the cliff toward the left flank, exposing himself to enemy fire. By attracting the attention of the enemy, he enabled the men closest to the cliff to reach cover. Organizing these men to guard against possible enemy counterattack, Staff Sergeant Otani again made his way across the open field, shouting instructions to the stranded men while continuing to draw enemy fire. Reaching the rear of the platoon position, he took partial cover in a shallow ditch and directed covering fire for the men who had begun to move forward. At this point, one of his men became seriously wounded. Ordering his men to remain under cover, Staff Sergeant Otani crawled to the wounded soldier who was lying on open ground in full view of the enemy. Dragging the wounded soldier to a shallow ditch, Staff Sergeant Otani proceeded to render first aid treatment, but was mortally wounded by machine gun fire. Staff Sergeant Otani’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.
Moving on to Vietnam and the first of three Medals earned by Marines during Operation Hastings.
MODRZEJEWSKI, ROBERT J.
Rank and organization: Major (then Capt.), U.S. Marine Corps, Company K, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division, FMF. place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 15 to 18 July 1966. Entered service at: Milwaukee, Wis. Born: 3 July 1934, Milwaukee, Wis. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On 15 July, during Operation HASTINGS, Company K was landed in an enemy-infested jungle area to establish a blocking position at a major enemy trail network. Shortly after landing, the company encountered a reinforced enemy platoon in a well-organized, defensive position. Maj. Modrzejewski led his men in the successful seizure of the enemy redoubt, which contained large quantities of ammunition and supplies. That evening, a numerically superior enemy force counterattacked in an effort to retake the vital supply area, thus setting the pattern of activity for the next 2 1/2 days. In the first series of attacks, the enemy assaulted repeatedly in overwhelming numbers but each time was repulsed by the gallant marines. The second night, the enemy struck in battalion strength, and Maj. Modrzejewski was wounded in this intensive action which was fought at close quarters. Although exposed to enemy fire, and despite his painful wounds, he crawled 200 meters to provide critically needed ammunition to an exposed element of his command and was constantly present wherever the fighting was heaviest, despite numerous casualties, a dwindling supply of ammunition and the knowledge that they were surrounded, he skillfully directed artillery fire to within a few meter* of his position and courageously inspired the efforts of his company in repelling the aggressive enemy attack. On 18 July, Company K was attacked by a regimental-size enemy force. Although his unit was vastly outnumbered and weakened by the previous fighting, Maj. Modrzejewski reorganized his men and calmly moved among them to encourage and direct their efforts to heroic limits as they fought to overcome the vicious enemy onslaught. Again he called in air and artillery strikes at close range with devastating effect on the enemy, which together with the bold and determined fighting of the men of Company K, repulsed the fanatical attack of the larger North Vietnamese force. His unparalleled personal heroism and indomitable leadership inspired his men to a significant victory over the enemy force and reflected great credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and the U.S. Naval Service.
*Indicates a posthumous award.