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 Рbut 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”

Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 25 July

Medal of Honor recipient Ambrosio Guillen. Courtesy the CMOHS.
A very light day for the Medal. Only three have been awarded for actions on 25 July. One was posthumous.

We open with the Civil War and a trooper who hunted down and killed a General.  Admittedly, a fantasy for many soldiers over the aeons, this trooper got the Medal for it.

LUCAS, GEORGE W.
Rank and organization: Private, Company C, 3d Missouri Cavalry. Place and date: At Benton, Ark., 25 July 1864. Entered service at: Mt. Sterling, Brown County, Ill. Birth: Adams County, Ill. Date of issue: December 1864. Citation: Pursued and killed Confederate Brig. Gen. George M. Holt, Arkansas Militia, capturing his arms and horse.

From the Interim Awards, 1871-1898, another sailor saving a drowning shipmate, which today would not be a Medal of Honor, but a Navy and Marine Corps Medal, for heroism not involving combat.¬† But there weren’t any other choices, back in the day.

PARKER, ALEXANDER
Rank and organization: Boatswain’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1832, Kensington, N.J. Accredited to: New Jersey. G.O. No.: 215, 9 August 1876. Citation: For gallant conduct in attempting to save a shipmate from drowning at the Navy Yard, Mare Island, Calif., on 25 July 1876.

Korea, 1953  The tragedy of this award is that Staff Sergeant Ambrosio earned this Medal two days before the armistice went into effect.

*GUILLEN, AMBROSIO

Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, Company F, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.). Place and date: Near Songuch-on, Korea, 25 July 1953. Entered service at: El Paso, Tex. Born: 7 December 1929, La Junta, Colo. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a platoon sergeant of Company F in action against enemy aggressor forces. Participating in the defense of an outpost forward of the main line of resistance, S/Sgt. Guillen maneuvered his platoon over unfamiliar terrain in the face of hostile fire and placed his men in fighting positions. With his unit pinned down when the outpost was attacked under cover of darkness by an estimated force of 2 enemy battalions supported by mortar and artillery fire, he deliberately exposed himself to the heavy barrage and attacks to direct his men in defending their positions and personally supervise the treatment and evacuation of the wounded. Inspired by his leadership, the platoon quickly rallied and engaged the enemy in fierce hand-to-hand combat. Although critically wounded during the course of the battle, S/Sgt. Guillen refused medical aid and continued to direct his men throughout the remainder of the engagement until the enemy was defeated and thrown into disorderly retreat. Succumbing to his wounds within a few hours, S/Sgt. Guillen, by his outstanding courage and indomitable fighting spirit, was directly responsible for the success of his platoon in repelling a numerically superior enemy force. His personal valor reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

*Indicates a posthumous award.

Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 24 July

Medal of Honor recipient Richard A Pittman. Courtesy the CMOHS.
Today is a rare one for the Medal.¬† There are no posthumous awards.¬† There was a time, during the Vietnam War and earlier, when we actually awarded the Medal to living people.¬†¬†Starting with Somalia and moving forward, however, it seems the unwritten policy is that it’s the Medal of Posthumous Honor, as yesterday’s announcement of the awarding of the Medal to SFC Jared Monti simply reinforces

I simply do not believe that there have been no deserving men or women who managed to survive a Medal-quality action.¬† Since the timeline seems to be 18 months to two years, perhaps we’ll see something percolate up.¬† One can only hope.¬† Of course, we’ve been making awards 40 years after the fact, so there may be some catch-ups later.

[NB: I am pleased to see that with the departure of Secretary of Defense Gates, the “Rumsfeld Rule” of “No one who lives is worthy” has fallen by the wayside. To Secretary Gate’s everlasting shame, in his book, he even acknowledges he thought the approach was wrong, yet he did nothing to change it. Asshat.]

Today’s Medals bracket the history of the Medal – two for an action at Newby’s Crossroads in Virginia in 1863 and one from the war in Vietnam.

The fighting at Newby’s Crossroads was part of the readjustment that occurred after Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg and his withdrawal back into Virginia.¬† This fight was part of the limited counterattacks designed to keep the Army of the Potomac at bay while Lee stabilized the situation.¬† In this case, keeping Custer’s Michigan Cavalry at bay.

HASTINGS, SMITH H.

Rank and organization: Captain, Company M, 5th Michigan Cavalry. Place and date: At Newbys Crossroads, Va., 24 July 1863. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Quincy, Mich. Date of issue: 2 August 1897. Citation: While in command of a squadron in rear guard of a cavalry division, then retiring before the advance of a corps of infantry, was attacked by the enemy and, orders having been given to abandon the guns of a section of field artillery with the rear guard that were in imminent danger of capture, he disregarded the orders received and aided in repelling the attack and saving the guns.

WOODRUFF, CARLE A.

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, 2d U.S. Artillery. Place and date: At Newbys Crossroads, Va., 24 July 1863. Entered service at: Washington, D.C. Born: Buffalo, N.Y. Date of issue: 1 September 1893. Citation: While in command of a section of a battery constituting a portion of the rear guard of a division then retiring before the advance of a corps of Infantry was attacked by the enemy and ordered to abandon his guns. Lt. Woodruff disregarded the orders received and aided in repelling the attack and saving the guns.

Vietnam

PITTMAN, RICHARD A.

Rank and organization: Sergeant (then L/Cpl.), U.S. Marine Corps, Company 1, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein) FMF. Place and date: near the Demilitarized Zone, Republic of Vietnam, 24 July 1966. Entered service at: Stockton, Calif. Born: 26 May 1945, French Camp, San Joaquin, Calif. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. While Company 1 was conducting an operation along the axis of a narrow jungle trail, the leading company elements suffered numerous casualties when they suddenly came under heavy fire from a well concealed and numerically superior enemy force. Hearing the engaged marines’ calls for more firepower, Sgt. Pittman quickly exchanged his rifle for a machinegun and several belts of ammunition, left the relative safety of his platoon, and unhesitatingly rushed forward to aid his comrades. Taken under intense enemy small-arms fire at point blank range during his advance, he returned the fire, silencing the enemy position. As Sgt. Pittman continued to forge forward to aid members of the leading platoon, he again came under heavy fire from 2 automatic weapons which he promptly destroyed. Learning that there were additional wounded marines 50 yards further along the trail, he braved a withering hail of enemy mortar and small-arms fire to continue onward. As he reached the position where the leading marines had fallen, he was suddenly confronted with a bold frontal attack by 30 to 40 enemy. Totally disregarding his safety, he calmly established a position in the middle of the trail and raked the advancing enemy with devastating machinegun fire. His weapon rendered ineffective, he picked up an enemy submachinegun and, together with a pistol seized from a fallen comrade, continued his lethal fire until the enemy force had withdrawn. Having exhausted his ammunition except for a grenade which he hurled at the enemy, he then rejoined his platoon. Sgt. Pittman’s daring initiative, bold fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty inflicted many enemy casualties, disrupted the enemy attack and saved the lives of many of his wounded comrades. His personal valor at grave risk to himself reflects the highest credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and the U.S. Naval Service.