Monday, May 29, 2006

Off Topic: Medal of Honor Recipients

It's Memorial Day here in the States, so it's fitting for us to once again visit CMH Online for some examples of gallantry under fire by American troops. The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest honor our country can bestow upon a soldier, and it is often gained at the cost of the recipient's life.

CMH Online has a complete list of all the Medal of Honor recipients and the circumstances in which they received their award. If you want to read about acts of heroism that don't involve heat vision or adamantium claws, go take a look. Here are some excerpts:


Captain Ben L. Salomon was serving at Saipan, in the Marianas Islands on July 7, 1944, as the Surgeon for the 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. The Regiment's 1st and 2d Battalions were attacked by an overwhelming force estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 Japanese soldiers. It was one of the largest attacks attempted in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Although both units fought furiously, the enemy soon penetrated the Battalions' combined perimeter and inflicted overwhelming casualties. In the first minutes of the attack, approximately 30 wounded soldiers walked, crawled, or were carried into Captain Salomon's aid station, and the small tent soon filled with wounded men. As the perimeter began to be overrun, it became increasingly difficult for Captain Salomon to work on the wounded. He then saw a Japanese soldier bayoneting one of the wounded soldiers lying near the tent. Firing from a squatting position, Captain Salomon quickly killed the enemy soldier. Then, as he turned his attention back to the wounded, two more Japanese soldiers appeared in the front entrance of the tent. As these enemy soldiers were killed, four more crawled under the tent walls. Rushing them, Captain Salomon kicked the knife out of the hand of one, shot another, and bayoneted a third. Captain Salomon butted the fourth enemy soldier in the stomach and a wounded comrade then shot and killed the enemy soldier. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Captain Salomon ordered the wounded to make their way as best they could back to the regimental aid station, while he attempted to hold off the enemy until they were clear. Captain Salomon then grabbed a rifle from one of the wounded and rushed out of the tent. After four men were killed while manning a machine gun, Captain Salomon took control of it. When his body was later found, 98 dead enemy soldiers were piled in front of his position. Captain Salomon's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company B, 2d Battalion, 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. Place and date: Giao Duc District, Dinh Tuong Province, Republic of Vietnam, 29 December 1968.

Pfc. Nash distinguished himself while serving as a grenadier with Company B, in Giao Duc District. When an ambush patrol of which he was a member suddenly came under intense attack before reaching its destination, he was the first to return the enemy fire. Taking an exposed location, Pfc. Nash suppressed the hostile fusillade with a rapid series of rounds from his grenade launcher, enabling artillery fire to be adjusted on the enemy. After the foe had been routed, his small element continued to the ambush site where he established a position with 3 fellow soldiers on a narrow dike. Shortly past midnight, while Pfc. Nash and a comrade kept watch and the 2 other men took their turn sleeping, an enemy grenade wounded 2 soldiers in the adjacent position. Seconds later, Pfc. Nash saw another grenade land only a few feet from his own position. Although he could have escaped harm by rolling down the other side of the dike, he shouted a warning to his comrades and leaped upon the lethal explosive. Absorbing the blast with his body, he saved the lives of the 3 men in the area at the sacrifice of his life. By his gallantry at the cost of his life are in the highest traditions of the military service, Pfc. Nash has reflected great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.


Rank and organization: Chaplain (Capt.), U.S. Army, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 199th Infantry Brigade. place and date: Near Phuoc-Lac, Bien Hoa province, Republic of Vietnam, 6 December 1967 .

Citation: Chaplain Liteky distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while serving with Company A, 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry, 199th Light Infantry Brigade. He was participating in a search and destroy operation when Company A came under intense fire from a battalion size enemy force. Momentarily stunned from the immediate encounter that ensued, the men hugged the ground for cover. Observing 2 wounded men, Chaplain Liteky moved to within 15 meters of an enemy machine gun position to reach them, placing himself between the enemy and the wounded men. When there was a brief respite in the fighting, he managed to drag them to the relative safety of the landing zone. Inspired by his courageous actions, the company rallied and began placing a heavy volume of fire upon the enemy's positions. In a magnificent display of courage and leadership, Chaplain Liteky began moving upright through the enemy fire, administering last rites to the dying and evacuating the wounded. Noticing another trapped and seriously wounded man, Chaplain Liteky crawled to his aid. Realizing that the wounded man was too heavy to carry, he rolled on his back, placed the man on his chest and through sheer determination and fortitude crawled back to the landing zone using his elbows and heels to push himself along. pausing for breath momentarily, he returned to the action and came upon a man entangled in the dense, thorny underbrush. Once more intense enemy fire was directed at him, but Chaplain Liteky stood his ground and calmly broke the vines and carried the man to the landing zone for evacuation. On several occasions when the landing zone was under small arms and rocket fire, Chaplain Liteky stood up in the face of hostile fire and personally directed the medivac helicopters into and out of the area. With the wounded safely evacuated, Chaplain Liteky returned to the perimeter, constantly encouraging and inspiring the men. Upon the unit's relief on the morning of 7 December 1967, it was discovered that despite painful wounds in the neck and foot, Chaplain Liteky had personally carried over 20 men to the landing zone for evacuation during the savage fighting. Through his indomitable inspiration and heroic actions, Chaplain Liteky saved the lives of a number of his comrades and enabled the company to repulse the enemy. Chaplain Liteky's actions reflect great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.

That's the real shit right there.


Jeffrey said...

This one's my favourite:


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. Entered service at: Shelley, Idaho. Born: 27 February 1932, Idaho Falls, Idaho. G.O. No.: 83, 2 November 1953. Citation: Sgt. Bleak, a member of the medical company, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and indomitable courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. As a medical aidman, he 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.

Chance said...

I'd buy the comic book adaptation.

Dave, have you read Madel of Honor, by Allen Mikaelian? It goes into detail about a few MoH winners. I was especially moved by the stories of the black and Nisei soldiers.

Anonymous said...

To quote the author of this site:

"F*@% YEAH!"

I'm Chalk!

David said...

wow. Those stories brought tears to my eyes. that IS the real deal

Harpo said...

I'm glad I wasn't the only one, david.

zailo said...

The real shit indeed.

kalel666 said...

Although he never won the CMOH, check out the story on Rick Rescorla. He was one of the inspirations for the book "We Were Soldiers Once, And Young", appearing on the cover even. You may have seen the movie based on the book, starring Mel Gibson. He had a pretty storied career in the Army, and lost his life saving others in the South Tower of the WTC on 9/11. Here's a pretty good run down of what a man looks like:

gorjus said...

This is amazing. These fellas are extraordinary.

Pappy Patchin said...

The military is filled with everyday "heroes" just doing their jobs to insure their buddies come home alive. These few Medal of Honor recipients are truly "Heroes" but each says they wear the medal for the men they served with. I know a few from WW II, Korea and Vietnam and none consider themselves anything more than a soldier.

Pappy Patchin
Retired Soldier

Grotesqueticle said...

Dan Daley and Smedly Butler.

That's all you need to know.

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