Memories jarred loose…

John Wayne in “Hellfighters”, 1968.

This movie has been playing recently.

I saw that movie in 1969, at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver. I was 12, Dad was in Vietnam, and I had to have some surgery. I was in a private room, because the surgery was in a delicate area, but also because staff was afraid the ward full of still-bleeding Vietnam amputees (some of them less than a week out from being wounded) might screw with the son of an officer.

As soon as the Docs left, a couple of troops opened my door, stuck their heads in and said, “Damn, kid, that sucks! Wanna watch “Hellfighters” with us?

Yes, I did. And I did. Good times. Even when one of the wounded kids died the next day. The ragged wounded warriors formed a rough honor cordon as they wheeled the dead soldier out, and I did my JFK Jr imitation in the line with them. Powerful introduction to the reality of my Dad’s career.

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Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 15 May

Medal of Honor Recipient Sergeant Henry Johnson

There are 14 Medals awarded for actions on this day. 11 from the Civil War, and one each from the Indian Campaigns, WWI, and Vietnam. One is technically posthumous.  The Civil War was a busy day at Resaca, and Drewry’s Bluff, both on land and the James River aboard USS Galena, including two officers together who strove to prevent a mass friendly fire incident and soldiers who stopped retreating to rescue or protect wounded brothers.

 

 

And, an injustice was rectified in the case of Sergeant Johnson.
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Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 14 May

There are nine Medals awarded for actions on this day. Five during the Civil War, three during WWII, and one during Vietnam.

There is a phrase which often closes WWII citations, especially for the sea services; “He gallantly gave his life for his country.”

Bullshit. 

You read those citations, and the proper closing should reflect, “He died for his buddies,” as PFC Diamond’s does.  Mom, Apple Pie, and Uncle Sam get you *in* the service.  When you are in the meadow where the Iron Crosses grow, you fight for each other, and little else.  Leave that crap for the GOFOs and politicians.

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Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 13 May

There are nine Medals awarded for actions on this day. Nine for the same action during the Philippine Insurrection, and three during Vietnam. Two were posthumous.

Philippine Insurrection. This is a fascinating fight – and seven of the 11 participants got the Medal. There was one fatality, the leader of the unit (a civilian, in fact, who died of wounds). “While at Baliuag, Lawton asked William H. Young, a civilian adventurer from Connecticut, and his detachment of 25 “specially qualified enlisted men”, known as Young’s Scouts, to reconnoiter the country around San Miguel de Mayumo and San Ildefonso (also in Bulacan Province). These towns controlled the approaches to San Isidro. Sixteen of the scouts were from the 1st North Dakota Volunteer Infantry, 6 from the 2nd Oregon Volunteers and 3 from the 4th U.S. Cavalry.” I would note that there was at least one artilleryman there, Captain Birkhimer of my regiment, the 3rd Artillery. Interesting article with pictures by Arnaldo Dumindin, at the Philippine-American War, 1899-1902

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Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 12 May

There are 38 Medals awarded for actions on this day, 35 of them for actions at Spotsylvania Courthouse in 1864. The rest are one each from the Indian Campaigns, WWII, and Vietnam. Happily, none were posthumous (whatever the enemy casualty count might have been).

Civil War- This is an interesting group, with more detail than the usual “Capture of flag” laconic citations from the era. Two of our flag-seizers apparently yelled, “Flags? We don’t need no stinking flags!” and tossed them aside and went on to killing Confederates. Then there’s the poker player who bluffed 6 rebels into giving up themselves and their colors while armed with a “an empty cocked rifle”, and the Private who would capture a flag this day, but by the end of the war less than a year later would be a Brevet Major. And a surprising number of junior officers acting as regimental commanders under fire. Like I said, not your usual acerbic citations for the Civil War.

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Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 11 May

There are 62 Medals awarded on this day, 55 of them for one battle, back when the Medal was about the only option. One was a posthumous award.

Civil War.

TREAT, HOWELL B.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company I, 52d Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At Buzzard’s Roost, Ga., 11 May 1864. Entered service at: Painesville, Ohio. Birth: Painesville, Ohio. Date of issue: 14 August 1894. Citation: Risked his life in saving a wounded comrade.

YEAGER, JACOB F.

Rank and organization: Private, Company H, 101st Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At Buzzard’s Roost, Ga., 11 May 1864. Entered service at: Tiffin, Ohio. Birth: Lehigh County, Pa. Date of issue: 3 August 1897. Citation: Seized a shell with fuze burning that had fallen in the ranks of his company and threw it into a stream, thereby probably saving his comrades from injury.

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Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 10 May

There are nine Medals awarded for actions on this day, one of them posthumous. They span the Civil War, naval lifesaving Medals and World War II.
Civil War. Medals scattered all over today – including Tom Custer, who is permanent party here at Fort Leavenworth.

ARNOLD, ABRAHAM K.

Rank and organization: Captain, 5th U.S. Cavalry, Place and date: At Davenport Bridge, Va., 10 May 1864. Entered service at: Bedford, Pa. Born: 24 March 1837, Bedford, Pa. Date of issue: 1 September 1893. Citation: By a gallant charge against a superior force of the enemy, extricated his command from a perilous position in which it had been ordered.

CUSTER, THOMAS W.

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, Company B, 6th Michigan Cavalry. Place and date: At Namozine Church, Va., 10 May 1863. Entered service at: Monroe, Mich. Birth: New Rumley, Ohio. Date of issue: 3 May 1865. Second award. Citation: Capture of flag on 10 May 1863.

CUTCHEON, BYRON M.

Rank and organization: Major, 20th Michigan Infantry. Place and date: At Horseshoe Bend, Ky., 10 May 1863. Entered service at: Ypsilanti, Mich. Born: 11 May 1836, Pembroke, N.H. Date of issue: 29 June 1891. Citation: Distinguished gallantry in leading his regiment in a charge on a house occupied by the enemy.

LUCE, MOSES A.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company E, 4th Michigan Infantry. Place and date: At Laurel Hill, Va., 10 May 1864. Entered service at: Hillsdale, Mich. Born: 14 May 1842, Payson, Adams County, Ill. Date of issue: 7 February 1895. Citation: Voluntarily returned in the face of the advancing enemy to the assistance of a wounded and helpless comrade, and carried him, at imminent peril, to a place of safety.

SEAVER, THOMAS O.

Rank and organization: Colonel, 3d Vermont Infantry. Place and date: At Spotsylvania Courthouse, Va., 10 May 1864. Entered service at: Pomfret, Vt. Born: 23 December 1833, Davendish, Vt. Date of issue: 8 April 1892. Citation: At the head of 3 regiments and under a most galling fire attacked and occupied the enemy’s works.

Interim Awards, 1866-1870

BATES, RICHARD

Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1829, Wales. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 77, 1 August 1866. Citation: For heroic conduct in rescuing from drowning James Rose and John Russell, seamen of the U.S.S. Winooski, off Eastport, Maine, 10 May 1866.

BROWN, JOHN

Rank and organization: Captain of the Afterguard, U.S. Navy. Born: 1838, Denmark. Accredited to: Maryland. G.O. No.: 77, 1 August 1866. Citation: For heroic conduct with 2 comrades, in rescuing from drowning James Rose and John Russell, seamen, of the U.S.S. Winooski, off Eastport, Maine, 10 May 1866.

BURKE, THOMAS

Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1833, Ireland. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 77, 1 August 1866. Citation: For heroic conduct, with 2 comrades, in rescuing from drowning James Rose and John Russell, seamen, of the U.S.S. Winooski, off Eastport, Maine, 10 May 1866.

World War II. The war may be over in Europe, but it still rages in the Pacific.

*HALYBURTON, WILLIAM DAVID, JR.

Rank and organization: Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class, U.S. Naval Reserve. Born: 2 August 1924, Canton, N.C. Accredited to: North 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 Rifle Company in the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyu Chain, 10 May 1945. Undaunted by the deadly accuracy of Japanese counterfire as his unit pushed the attack through a strategically important draw, Halyburton unhesitatingly dashed across the draw and up the hill into an open fire-swept field where the company advance squad was suddenly pinned down under a terrific concentration of mortar, machinegun and sniper fire with resultant severe casualties. Moving steadily forward despite the enemy’s merciless barrage, he reached the wounded marine who lay farthest away and was rendering first aid when his patient was struck for the second time by a Japanese bullet. Instantly placing himself in the direct line of fire, he shielded the fallen fighter with his own body and staunchly continued his ministrations although constantly menaced by the slashing fury of shrapnel and bullets falling on all sides. Alert, determined and completely unselfish in his concern for the helpless marine, he persevered in his efforts until he himself sustained mortal wounds and collapsed, heroically sacrificing himself that his comrade might live. By his outstanding valor and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of tremendous odds, Halyburton sustained and enhanced the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

Vietnam – An eagle screams.

*SABO, Jr, LESLIE H.

Specialist Four Leslie H. Sabo Jr. distinguished himself by conspicuous acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his own life while serving as a rifleman in Company B, 3d Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division in Se San, Cambodia, on May 10, 1970. On that day, Specialist Four Sabo and his platoon were conducting a reconnaissance patrol when they were ambushed from all sides by a large enemy force. Without hesitation, Specialist Four Sabo charged an enemy position, killing several enemy soldiers. Immediately thereafter, he assaulted an enemy flanking force, successfully drawing their fire away from friendly soldiers and ultimately forcing the enemy to retreat. In order to re-supply ammunition, he sprinted across an open field to a wounded comrade. As he began to reload, an enemy grenade landed nearby. Specialist Four Sabo picked it up, threw it, and shielded his comrade with his own body, thus absorbing the brunt of the blast and saving his comrade’s life. Seriously wounded by the blast, Specialist Four Sabo nonetheless retained the initiative and then single-handedly charged an enemy bunker that had inflicted severe damage on the platoon, receiving several serious wounds from automatic weapons fire in the process. Now mortally injured, he crawled towards the enemy emplacement and, when in position, threw a grenade into the bunker. The resulting explosion silenced the enemy fire, but also ended Specialist Four Sabo’s life. His indomitable courage and complete disregard for his own safety saved the lives of many of his platoon members. Specialist Four Sabo’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty, at the cost of his life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company B, 3d Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, and the United States Army.

*Asterisk indicates posthumous award.

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Oceania has never been at war with Eastasia.

And vice versa, if today is Tuesday. Or Friday. Or, at least in digits; the greatest paradigm shift for narrative control ever. Tim Berners-Lee gave us a gift with HTML. And, like the children we are, we broke it. Thoroughly. Swiftly.

And possibly irremediably.

Moscow’s War on History.

“In the wake of Russia’s Victory Day military parade on Sunday, Russian lawmakers plan to ban any comparisons between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The parade marks the 76th anniversary of the end of World War II and, as is traditional, will be held in Red Square.”

But wait – there’s more! Don’t forget the “European Civil War!”

Was It Over When the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor During the ‘European Civil War?’

Buy now, and I’ll throw in the 1619 Project!

Why Are We Teaching Kids That America Was Always Racist?

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Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 9 May

There are two Medals awarded for actions on this day, both during the Civil War.

Civil War. As a Redleg, anyone who saves the guns is all right by me. And Sergeant Ferrier’s citation seems a little sparse for what looks to have been a hard ride.

COUGHLIN, JOHN

Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, 10th New Hampshire Infantry. Place and date: At Swifts Creek, Va., 9 May 1864. Entered service at: Manchester, N.H. Birth: Vermont. Date ·S issue: 31 August 1893. Citation: During a sudden night attack upon Burnham’s Brigade, resulting in much confusion, this officer, without waiting for orders, led his regiment forward and interposed a line of battle between the advancing enemy and Hunt’s Battery, repulsing the attack and saving the guns.

FERRIER, DANIEL T.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company K, 2d Indiana Cavalry. Place and date: At Varnells Station, Ga., 9 May 1864. Entered service at: Delphi, Ind. Birth:——. Date of issue: 30 March 1898. Citation: While his regiment was retreating, voluntarily gave up his horse to his brigade commander who had been unhorsed and was in danger of capture, thereby enabling him to rejoin and rally the disorganized troops. Sgt. Ferrier himself was captured and confined in Confederate prisons, from which he escaped and, after great hardship, rejoined the Union lines.

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Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 8 May

There are thirteen Medals awarded for actions on this day, from the Civil War, through World War II and Vietnam. Four are posthumous.

Civil War.

GALLOWAY, GEORGE N.

Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 95th Pennsylvania Infantry. Place and date: At Alsops Farm, Va., 8 May 1864. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Philadelphia, Pa. Date of issue: 24 October 1895. Citation: Voluntarily held an important position under heavy fire.

McKAY, CHARLES W.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company C, 154th New York Infantry. Place and date: At Dug Gap, Ga., 8 May 1864. Entered service at: Allegheny, Cattaraugus County, N.Y. Birth: Mansfield, N.Y. Date of issue: 13 April 1894. Citation: Voluntarily risked his life in rescuing under the fire of the enemy a wounded comrade who was Iying between the lines.

MOREY, DELANO

Rank and organization: Private, Company B, 82d Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At McDowell, Va., 8 May 1862. Entered service at: Hardin County, Ohio. Birth: Licking County, Ohio. Date of issue: 14 August 1893. Citation: After the charge of the command had been repulsed, he rushed forward alone with an empty gun and captured two of the enemy’s sharpshooters.

NUTTING, LEE

Rank and organization: Captain, Company C., 61st New York Infantry. Place and date: At Todds Tavern, Va., 8 May 1864. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Orange County, N.Y. Date of issue: 21 August 1893. Citation: Led the regiment in charge at a critical moment under a murderous fire until he fell desperately wounded.

PHELPS, CHARLES E.

Rank and organization: Colonel, 7th Maryland Infantry. Place and date: At Laurel Hill, Va., 8 May 1864. Entered service at: Baltimore, Md. Born: 1 May 1833, Guilford, Vt. Date of issue: 30 March 1898. Citation: Rode to the head of the assaulting column, then much broken by severe losses and faltering under the close fire of artillery, placed himself conspicuously in front of the troops, and gallantly rallied and led them to within a few feet of the enemy’s works, where he was severely wounded and captured.

ROBERTSON, ROBERT S.

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, Company K, 93d New York Infantry. Place and date: At Corbins Bridge, Va., 8 May 1864. Entered service at: Argyle, N.Y. Birth: Argyle, N.Y. Date of issue: 2 August 1897. Citation: While acting as aide_de_camp to a general officer, seeing a regiment break to the rear, he seized its colors, rode with them to the front in the face of the advancing enemy, and rallied the retreating regiment.

ROBINSON, JOHN C.

Rank and organization: Brigadier General, U.S. Volunteers. Place and date: At Laurel Hill, Va., 8 May 1864. Entered service at: Binghamton, N.Y. Birth: Binghamton, N.Y. Date of issue: 28 March 1894. Citation: Placed himself at the head of the leading brigade in a charge upon the enemy’s breastworks; was severely wounded.

WELCH, STEPHEN

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company C, 154th New York Infantry. Place and date: At Dug Gap, Ga., 8 May 1864. Entered service at: Allegany, Cattaraugus County, N.Y. Birth: Groton, N.Y. Date of issue: 13 April 1894. Citation: Risked his life in rescuing a wounded comrade under fire of the enemy.

World War II. The Battle of Coral Sea looms large today. And while it may have been Victory in Europe day, in the Pacific, there was still hard fighting in the Philippines.

HALL, WILLIAM E.

Rank and organization: Lieutenant, Junior Grade, U.S. Naval Reserve. Place and date: Coral Sea, 7 and 8 May 1942. Entered service at: Utah. Born: 31 October 1913, Storrs, Utah. Citation: For extreme courage and conspicuous heroism in combat above and beyond the call of duty as pilot of a scouting plane in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Coral Sea on 7 and 8 May 1942. In a resolute and determined attack on 7 May, Lt. (j.g.) Hall dived his plane at an enemy Japanese aircraft carrier, contributing materially to the destruction of that vessel. On 8 May, facing heavy and fierce fighter opposition, he again displayed extraordinary skill as an airman and the aggressive spirit of a fighter in repeated and effectively executed counterattacks against a superior number of enemy planes in which 3 enemy aircraft were destroyed. Though seriously wounded in this engagement, Lt. (j.g.) Hall, maintaining the fearless and indomitable tactics pursued throughout these actions, succeeded in landing his plane safe.

*KROTIAK, ANTHONY L.

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company I, 148th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division. Place and date: Balete Pass, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 8 May 1945. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Born: 15 August 1915, Chicago, Ill. G.O. No.: 18, 13 February 1946. Citation: He was an acting squad leader, directing his men in consolidating a newly won position on Hill B when the enemy concentrated small arms fire and grenades upon him and 4 others, driving them to cover in an abandoned Japanese trench. A grenade thrown from above landed in the center of the group. Instantly pushing his comrades aside and jamming the grenade into the earth with his rifle butt, he threw himself over it, making a shield of his body to protect the other men. The grenade exploded under him, and he died a few minutes later. By his extraordinary heroism in deliberately giving his life to save those of his comrades, Pfc. Krotiak set an inspiring example of utter devotion and self-sacrifice which reflects the highest traditions of the military service.

*POWERS, JOHN JAMES

Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Navy. Born: 13 July 1912, New York City, N.Y. Accredited to: New York. Other Navy award: Air Medal with 1 gold star. Citation: For distinguished and conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, while pilot of an airplane of Bombing Squadron 5, Lt. Powers participated, with his squadron, in 5 engagements with Japanese forces in the Coral Sea area and adjacent waters during the period 4 to 8 May 1942. Three attacks were made on enemy objectives at or near Tulagi on 4 May. In these attacks he scored a direct hit which instantly demolished a large enemy gunboat or destroyer and is credited with 2 close misses, 1 of which severely damaged a large aircraft tender, the other damaging a 20,000-ton transport. He fearlessly strafed a gunboat, firing all his ammunition into it amid intense antiaircraft fire. This gunboat was then observed to be leaving a heavy oil slick in its wake and later was seen beached on a nearby island. On 7 May, an attack was launched against an enemy airplane carrier and other units of the enemy’s invasion force. He fearlessly led his attack section of 3 Douglas Dauntless dive bombers, to attack the carrier. On this occasion he dived in the face of heavy antiaircraft fire, to an altitude well below the safety altitude, at the risk of his life and almost certain damage to his own plane, in order that he might positively obtain a hit in a vital part of the ship, which would insure her complete destruction. This bomb hit was noted by many pilots and observers to cause a tremendous explosion engulfing the ship in a mass of flame, smoke, and debris. The ship sank soon after. That evening, in his capacity as Squadron Gunnery Officer, Lt. Powers gave a lecture to the squadron on point-of-aim and diving technique. During this discourse he advocated low release point in order to insure greater accuracy; yet he stressed the danger not only from enemy fire and the resultant low pull-out, but from own bomb blast and bomb fragments. Thus his low-dive bombing attacks were deliberate and premeditated, since he well knew and realized the dangers of such tactics, but went far beyond the call of duty in order to further the cause which he knew to be right. The next morning, 8 May, as the pilots of the attack group left the ready room to man planes, his indomitable spirit and leadership were well expressed in his own words, “Remember the folks back home are counting on us. 1 am going to get a hit if 1 have to lay it on their flight deck.” He led his section of dive bombers down to the target from an altitude of 18,000 feet, through a wall of bursting antiaircraft shells and into the face of enemy fighter planes. Again, completely disregarding the safety altitude and without fear or concern for his safety, Lt. Powers courageously pressed home his attack, almost to the very deck of an enemy carrier and did not release his bomb until he was sure of a direct hit. He was last seen attempting recovery from his dive at the extremely low altitude of 200 feet, and amid a terrific barrage of shell and bomb fragments, smoke, flame and debris from the stricken vessel.

*RICKETTS, MILTON ERNEST

Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Navy. Born: 5 August 1913, Baltimore, Md. Appointed from: Maryland. Citation: For extraordinary and distinguished gallantry above and beyond the call of duty as Officer-in-Charge of the Engineering Repair Party of the U.S.S. Yorktown in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Battle of the Coral Sea on 8 May 1942. During the severe bombarding of the Yorktown by enemy Japanese forces, an aerial bomb passed through and exploded directly beneath the compartment in which Lt. Ricketts’ battle station was located, killing, wounding or stunning all of his men and mortally wounding him. Despite his ebbing strength, Lt. Ricketts promptly opened the valve of a near-by fireplug, partially led out the fire hose and directed a heavy stream of water into the fire before dropping dead beside the hose. His courageous action, which undoubtedly prevented the rapid spread of fire to serious proportions, and his unflinching devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Vietnam

*KEITH, MIGUEL

Rank and organization: Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Combined Action platoon 1-3-2, 111 Marine Amphibious Force. place and date: Quang Ngai province, Republic of Vietnam, 8 May 1970. Entered service at: Omaha, Nebr. Born: 2 June 1951, San Antonio, Tex. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machine gunner with Combined Action platoon 1-3-2. During the early morning L/Cpl. Keith was seriously wounded when his platoon was subjected to a heavy ground attack by a greatly outnumbering enemy force. Despite his painful wounds, he ran across the fire-swept terrain to check the security of vital defensive positions and then, while completely exposed to view, proceeded to deliver a hail of devastating machine gun fire against the enemy. Determined to stop 5 of the enemy soldiers approaching the command post, he rushed forward, firing as he advanced. He succeeded in disposing of 3 of the attackers and in dispersing the remaining 2. At this point, a grenade detonated near L/Cpl. Keith, knocking him to the ground and inflicting further severe wounds. Fighting pain and weakness from loss of blood, he again braved the concentrated hostile fire to charge an estimated 25 enemy soldiers who were massing to attack. The vigor of his assault and his well-placed fire eliminated 4 of the enemy soldiers while the remainder fled for cover. During this valiant effort, he was mortally wounded by an enemy soldier. By his courageous and inspiring performance in the face of almost overwhelming odds, L/Cpl. Keith contributed in large measure to the success of his platoon in routing a numerically superior enemy force, and upheld the finest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the U.S. Naval Service.

*Asterisk indicates posthumous award.

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