Sunday, May 29, 2005

Off Topic: Medal of Honor Recipients

Okay, not to get all patriotic on your ass, but since this is Memorial Day Weekend I thought I'd share some stuff from one of my favorite sites, a complete list of all the Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. It's broken down for you by conflict, and then alphabetically by last name. Each recipient has a brief essay on the circumstances in which they received the Medal, written in the vernacular of the day. It makes for fascinating reading. Sadly, most of the soldiers who win this highest honor do so after sacrificing their own lives.

If you appreciate heroism and bravery as much as I do, set the damn X-Men comic down and head on over to the site and check out the exploits of some real-life bad-asses.

Here's an example:


Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Medical Company 223d Infantry Regiment, 40th Infantry Division. Place and date: Vicinity of Minari-gol, Korea, 14 June 1952.

Citation: ...As a medical aidman, [Sgt. Bleak] volunteered to accompany a reconnaissance patrol committed to engage the enemy and capture a prisoner for interrogation. Forging up the rugged slope of the key terrain, the group was subjected to intense automatic weapons and small arms fire and suffered several casualties. After administering to the wounded, he continued to advance with the patrol. Nearing the military crest of the hill, while attempting to cross the fire-swept area to attend the wounded, he came under hostile fire from a small group of the enemy concealed in a trench. Entering the trench he closed with the enemy, killed 2 with bare hands and a third with his trench knife. Moving from the emplacement, he saw a concussion grenade fall in front of a companion and, quickly shifting his position, shielded the man from the impact of the blast.

Later, while ministering to the wounded, he was struck by a hostile bullet but, despite the wound, he undertook to evacuate a wounded comrade. As he moved down the hill with his heavy burden, he was attacked by 2 enemy soldiers with fixed bayonets. Closing with the aggressors, he grabbed them and smacked their heads together, then carried his helpless comrade down the hill to safety. Sgt. Bleak's dauntless courage and intrepid actions reflect utmost credit upon himself and are in keeping with the honored traditions of the military service.

Did you catch that? He smacked their fucking heads together!

Here's another:


Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company B, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry, 196th Infantry Brigade, 23d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near the village of Hiep Duc, Republic of Vietnam, 7 June 1970.

Citation: ...S/Sgt. Murray's squad was searching for an enemy mortar that had been threatening friendly positions when a member of the squad tripped an enemy grenade rigged as a booby trap. Realizing that he had activated the enemy booby trap, the soldier shouted for everybody to take cover. Instantly assessing the danger to the men of his squad, S/Sgt. Murray unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own safety, threw himself on the grenade absorbing the full and fatal impact of the explosion. By his gallant action and self sacrifice, he prevented the death or injury of the other members of his squad. S/Sgt. Murray's extraordinary courage and gallantry, at the cost of his life above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Unfortunately, there's more than a few Medal of Honor recipients who died by jumping on grenades to save their comrades.

Here's one last example:

HOWARD, JAMES H. (Air Mission)

Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army Air Corps. Place and date: Over Oschersleben, Germany, 11 January 1944.

Citation: ...Col. Howard was the leader of a group of P51 aircraft providing support for a heavy bomber formation on a long-range mission deep in enemy territory. As Col. Howard's group met the bombers in the target area the bomber force was attacked by numerous enemy fighters. Col. Howard, with his group, and at once engaged the enemy and himself destroyed a German ME. 110. As a result of this attack Col. Howard lost contact with his group, and at once returned to the level of the bomber formation. He then saw that the bombers were being heavily attacked by enemy airplanes and that no other friendly fighters were at hand.

While Col. Howard could have waited to attempt to assemble his group before engaging the enemy, he chose instead to attack single-handed a formation of more than 30 German airplanes. With utter disregard for his own safety he immediately pressed home determined attacks for some 30 minutes, during which time he destroyed 3 enemy airplanes and probably destroyed and damaged others. Toward the end of this engagement 3 of his guns went out of action and his fuel supply was becoming dangerously low. Despite these handicaps and the almost insuperable odds against him, Col. Howard continued his aggressive action in an attempt to protect the bombers from the numerous fighters. His skill, courage, and intrepidity on this occasion set an example of heroism which will be an inspiration to the U.S. Armed Forces.

One guy in a P-51 against 30 German fighters? That's some ice-cold shit right there.

Anyway, hope everybody's enjoying their weekend. We will commence with our regularly scheduled mockery/adulation of comic books shortly.


Greg said...

Wow, that's awesome. I'll have to steal the link from you.

Anonymous said...

The two Delta Force snipers who landed to defend the second crashed chopper in Blackhawk Down when they knew it meant certain death are two of my favorites. These real life stories are why you get chills when you read the that Thor you reviewed about the last stand of Skurge the Executioner.

Yail Bloor

juana said...

Thanks for posting the excellent link ... i'm swiping it, too.

Todd D. said...

I read this page every year about this time, usually because of Joe Scoleri over on Boardgamegeek.

The whole site makes me melancholy.

Matt said...

Yeah, I get a lump in my throat every time I read any of those. Thanks for reminding us.

RTO Trainer said...

If you don't mind me plugging my own blog, you can get daily doses of Medal of Honor Citations at This Day in U.S. Military History.

I've had the honor of meeting three Medal of Honor recipients. They are some of the most humble, down to earth, people.

David Campbell said...

Thanks RTO! Your blog is fantastic.

N said...

To all: I highly recommend the book Medal Of Honor, by Allen Mikaelian, which depicts the lives and acts of heroism of a handfull of MOH recipients. Check it out.

Doug Bleak said...

Dave Bleak was an hero not only in combat but in life also. Sadly we lost Sgt. Bleak on the morning of March 23, 2006 at 02:58. As a family and a Nation we have lost another.

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