Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 1 November

Hitting about on the average, we have 10 Medals for this day in history.

Indian Campaigns

TAYLOR, BERNARD

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company A, 5th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: Near Sunset Pass, Ariz., 1 November 1874. Entered service at: Washington, D.C. Birth: St. Louis, Mo. Date of issue: 12 April 1875. Citation: Bravery in rescuing Lt. King, 5th U.S. Cavalry, from Indians.

WWI

FORREST, ARTHUR J.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company D, 354th Infantry, 89th Division. Place and date: Near Remonville, France, 1 November 1918. Entered service at: Hannibal, Mo . Birth: St. Louis, Mo. G.O. No.: 50, W.D., 1919. Citation: When the advance of his company was stopped by bursts of fire from a nest of 6 enemy machineguns, without being discovered, he worked his way single-handed to a point within 50 yards of the machinegun nest. Charging, single-handed, he drove out the enemy in disorder, thereby protecting the advance platoon from annihilating fire, and permitting the resumption of the advance of his company.

FURLONG, HAROLD A.

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 353d Infantry, 89th Division. Place and date: Near Bantheville, France, 1 November 1918. Entered service at: Detroit, Mich. Birth: Pontiac, Mich. G.O. No.: 16, W.D., 1919. Citation: Immediately after the opening of the attack in the Bois-de-Bantheville, when his company was held up by severe machinegun fire from the front, which killed his company commander and several soldiers, 1st. Lt. Furlong moved out in advance of the line with great courage and coolness, crossing an open space several hundred yards wide. Taking up a position behind the line of the machineguns, he closed in on them, one at a time, killing a number of the enemy with his rifle, putting 4 machinegun nests out of action, and driving 20 German prisoners into our lines.

SIEGEL, JOHN OTTO

Rank and organization Boatswain’s Mate Second Class, U.S. Navy. Born: 21 April 1890, Milwaukee, Wis. Accredited to: New Jersey. Citation: For extraordinary heroism while serving on board the Mohawk in performing a rescue mission aboard the schooner Hjeltenaes which was in flames on 1 November 1918. Going aboard the blazing vessel, Siegel rescued 2 men from the crew’s quarters and went back the third time. Immediately after he had entered the crew’s quarters, a steam pipe over the door bursted, making it impossible for him to escape. Siegel was overcome with smoke and fell to the deck, being finally rescued by some of the crew of the Mohawk who carried him out and rendered first aid.

Second Haiti Campaign 1919-1920

BUTTON, WILLIAM ROBERT

Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps. Entered service at: St. Louis, Mo. Born: 3 December 1895, St. Louis, Mo. G.O. No.: 536, 10 June 1920. Citation: For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in actual conflict with the enemy near Grande Riviere, Republic of Haiti, on the night of 31 October- l November 1919, resulting in the death of Charlemagne Peralte, the supreme bandit chief in the Republic of Haiti, and the killing, capture and dispersal of about 1,200 of his outlaw followers. Cpl. William R. Button not only distinguished himself by his excellent judgment and leadership but also unhesitatingly exposed himself to great personal danger when the slightest error would have forfeited not only his life but the lives of the detachments of Gendarmerie under his command. The successful termination of his mission will undoubtedly prove of untold value to the Republic of Haiti.

HANNEKEN, HERMAN HENRY

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps. Place and date: Near Grande Riviere, Republic of Haiti, 31 October-1 November 1919. Entered service at: St. Louis, Mo. Born: 23 June 1893, St. Louis, Mo. G.O. No.: 536, 10 June 1920. Other Navy awards: Navy Cross with 1 gold star, Silver Star, Legion of Merit. Citation: For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in actual conflict with the enemy near Grande Riviere, Republic of Haiti, on the night of 31 October-1 November 1919, resulting in the death of Charlemagne Peralte, the supreme bandit chief in the Republic of Haiti, and the killing, capture, and dispersal of about 1,200 of his outlaw followers. 2d Lt. Hanneken not only distinguished himself by his excellent judgment and leadership but also unhesitatingly exposed himself to great personal danger when the slightest error would have forfeited not only his life but the lives of the detachments of gendarmerie under his command. The successful termination of his mission will undoubtedly prove of untold value to the Republic of Haiti.

WWII

CASAMENTO, ANTHONY

Rank and organization: Corporal, Company D, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division. Place and date: Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Entered service at: Brooklyn, New York. Date and place of birth: 16 November 1920, Brooklyn, New York. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, in action against the enemy Japanese forces on 1 November 1942. Serving as a leader of a machine gun section, Corporal Casamento directed his unit to advance along a ridge near the Matanikau River where they engaged the enemy. He positioned his section to provide covering fire for two flanking units and to provide direct support for the main force of his company which was behind him. During the course of this engagement, all members of his section were either killed or severely wounded and he himself suffered multiple, grievous wounds. Nonetheless, Corporal Casamento continued to provide critical supporting fire for the attack and in defense of his position. Following the loss of all effective personnel, he set up, loaded, and manned his unit’s machine gun. tenaciously holding the enemy forces at bay. Corporal Casamento single-handedly engaged and destroyed one machine gun emplacement to his front and took under fire the other emplacement on the flank. Despite the heat and ferocity of the engagement, he continued to man his weapon and repeatedly repulsed multiple assaults by the enemy forces, thereby protecting the flanks of the adjoining companies and holding his position until the arrival of his main attacking force. Corporal Casamento’s courageous fighting spirit, heroic conduct, and unwavering dedication to duty reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

*OWENS, ROBERT ALLEN

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 13 September 1920, Greenville, S.C. Accredited to: South Carolina. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with a marine division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during extremely hazardous landing operations at Cape Torokina, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, on 1 November 1943. Forced to pass within disastrous range of a strongly protected, well-camouflaged Japanese 75-mm. regimental gun strategically located on the beach, our landing units were suffering heavy losses in casualties and boats while attempting to approach the beach, and the success of the operations was seriously threatened. Observing the ineffectiveness of marine rifle and grenade attacks against the incessant, devastating fire of the enemy weapon and aware of the urgent need for prompt action, Sgt. Owens unhesitatingly determined to charge the gun bunker from the front and, calling on 4 of his comrades to assist him, carefully placed them to cover the fire of the 2 adjacent hostile bunkers. Choosing a moment that provided a fair opportunity for passing these bunkers, he immediately charged into the mouth of the steadily firing cannon and entered the emplacement through the fire port, driving the guncrew out of the rear door and insuring their destruction before he himself was wounded. Indomitable and aggressive in the face of almost certain death, Sgt. Owens silenced a powerful gun which was of inestimable value to the Japanese defense and, by his brilliant initiative and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice, contributed immeasurably to the success of the vital landing operations. His valiant conduct throughout reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service.

Korea.  A Medal Holder who is also an actual candidate for Sainthood.  Finally, this year, Father Kapaun came home.

KAPAUN, EMIL J*

Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun, while assigned to Headquarters Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism, patriotism, and selfless service between Nov. 1, 1950 and May 23, 1951. During the battle of Unsan, Kapaun was attached to the 3rd Battalion of the 8th Cavalry Regiment, which was assigned to provide a rear guard for the regiment’s withdrawal.

As Chinese Communist forces encircled the battalion, Kapaun moved fearlessly from foxhole to foxhole under enemy direct fire in order to provide comfort and reassurance to the outnumbered Soldiers. When Chinese commandoes attacked the battalion command post, Kapaun and other members of the headquarters withdrew 500 meters across a nearby river, but Kapaun returned to help the wounded, gathering approximately 30 injured men into the relative protection of a Korean dugout.

The battalion repelled the Chinese attack shortly before dawn Nov. 2, but found itself defending a small perimeter, entirely surrounded by enemy troops. Kapaun spent the day rescuing wounded Americans from the no-man’s land outside the battalion perimeter. Despite continuing enemy fire, he repeatedly crawled to wounded men and either dragged them back to safety of the American lines or dug shallow trenches to shield them from enemy fire. As the day passed, it became clear that the battalion’s position was hopeless. Kapaun rejected several chances to escape, instead volunteering to stay behind and care for the wounded. At dusk, he made his way back to the dugout, now 150 meters outside the American perimeter, where more than 50 wounded men had been gathered. Among the injured Americans was a wounded Chinese officer. As Chinese infantry closed on their position, Kapaun convinced him to negotiate for the safety of the injured Americans.

Shortly after Kapaun’s capture, he intervened to save the life of Staff Sergeant Herbert Miller, who was lying in a nearby ditch with a broken ankle and other injuries. As a Chinese soldier prepared to execute Miller, Kapaun risked his own life by pushing the Chinese soldier aside and hoisting Miller to his feet. Kapaun carried and supported Miller for several days as the prisoners marched north, until their column reached Pyoktong.

After a few days at Pyoktong, Kapaun and other prisoners were marched to a new camp. In addition to their wounds, many of the Americans were weakened by the meager rations of boiled corn and millet, while others suffered from dysentery caused by the contaminated water they drank. Kapaun worked tirelessly to bolster the morale of the prisoners. Moving from group to group during rest stops to encourage the men to take care of each other and keep going. During the marches themselves, he led by example in caring for injured Soldiers, refusing to take a break from carrying the stretchers of the wounded while encouraging others to do their part. At the next prison camp, Sambukol, malnutrition began to cause pellagra and beriberi among the Americans, and Kapaun again risked his life, dodging guards after dark to steal additional rations from the Chinese captors, which he distributed evenly among the prisoners.

When the American prisoners were transferred back to Pyoktong in January of 1951, their situation went from bad to worse. As malnutrition and dysentery combined with extreme cold weather and overcrowding, prisoners began to die by the hundreds. Kapaun continued to risk his life by sneaking around the camp after dark, foraging for food, caring for the sick, and encouraging his fellow Soldiers to sustain their faith and their humanity. On at least one occasion, he was caught and brutally punished for his disobedience, being forced to sit outside in subzero weather without any garments.

In March, the Chinese instituted a mandatory re-education program in which they tried to persuade their captives to renounce the war, reject their religious beliefs and embrace communism. Again risking punishment and torture, Kapaun patiently and politely rejected every theory put forth by the Chinese instructors. Later that month, Kapaun openly flouted the Chinese prohibition against religious services by conducting a sunrise service on Easter morning, 1951.

A short while later, Kapaun began to suffer from the physical toll of his captivity. A blood clot in his leg nearly killed him. The Chinese, wary of Kapaun’s influence over the other prisoners, refused to provide medical assistance. His fellow prisoners helped Kapaun recover, but within a couple of weeks he began to suffer from pneumonia. Over the protests of his fellow captives, the Chinese transferred him to their filthy, unheated hospital, where he died alone. As he was being carried to the hospital, he asked God’s forgiveness for his captors, and made his fellow prisoners promise to keep their faith.

Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun repeatedly risked his own life to save the lives of hundreds of fellow Americans. His extraordinary courage, faith and leadership inspired thousands of prisoners to survive hellish conditions, resist Chinese indoctrination, and retain their faith in God and their country. His actions reflect the utmost credit upon him, the 1st Cavalry Division, and the United States Army.

Vietnam.  Major General Rogers was the first Medal holder I ever met, back when I was attending the Battalion S1 course at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana and we had lunch with him when he was visiting from the Pentagon..  The most senior grade to receive the Army Medal in Vietnam were two Lieutenant Colonels, of which MG Rogers was one.  The most senior recipients during the war were a Navy Captain and an Air Force Colonel.  MG Rogers remains the highest ranking African-American recipient of the Medal.

ROGERS, CHARLES CALVIN

Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S . Army, 1st Battalion, 5th Artillery, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Fishhook, near Cambodian border, Republic of Vietnam, 1 November 1968. Entered service at: Institute, W Va. Born: 6 September 1929, Claremont, W Va. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Lt. Col. Rogers, Field Artillery, distinguished himself in action while serving as commanding officer, 1st Battalion, during the defense of a forward fire support base. In the early morning hours, the fire support base was subjected to a concentrated bombardment of heavy mortar, rocket and rocket propelled grenade fire. Simultaneously the position was struck by a human wave ground assault, led by sappers who breached the defensive barriers with bangalore torpedoes and penetrated the defensive perimeter. Lt. Col. Rogers with complete disregard for his safety moved through the hail of fragments from bursting enemy rounds to the embattled area. He aggressively rallied the dazed artillery crewmen to man their howitzers and he directed their fire on the assaulting enemy. Although knocked to the ground and wounded by an exploding round, Lt. Col. Rogers sprang to his feet and led a small counterattack force against an enemy element that had penetrated the howitzer positions. Although painfully wounded a second time during the assault, Lt. Col. Rogers pressed the attack killing several of the enemy and driving the remainder from the positions. Refusing medical treatment, Lt. Col. Rogers reestablished and reinforced the defensive positions. As a second human wave attack was launched against another sector of the perimeter, Lt. Col. Rogers directed artillery fire on the assaulting enemy and led a second counterattack against the charging forces. His valorous example rallied the beleaguered defenders to repulse and defeat the enemy onslaught. Lt. Col. Rogers moved from position to position through the heavy enemy fire, giving encouragement and direction to his men. At dawn the determined enemy launched a third assault against the fire base in an attempt to overrun the position. Lt. Col. Rogers moved to the threatened area and directed lethal fire on the enemy forces. Seeing a howitzer inoperative due to casualties, Lt. Col. Rogers joined the surviving members of the crew to return the howitzer to action. While directing the position defense, Lt. Col. Rogers was seriously wounded by fragments from a heavy mortar round which exploded on the parapet of the gun position. Although too severely wounded to physically lead the defenders, Lt. Col. Rogers continued to give encouragement and direction to his men in the defeating and repelling of the enemy attack. Lt. Col. Rogers’ dauntless courage and heroism inspired the defenders of the fire support base to the heights of valor to defeat a determined and numerically superior enemy force. His relentless spirit of aggressiveness in action are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

*Asterisk indicates 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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