MEDAL of HONOR Citations – MEDICAL PERSONNEL

(submitted by Alain Batens)

Last updated December 11th 2002

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(Medal of Honor, Army – period 1944 – the part illustrated above is from the collection of Alain Batens)

Description: a gold five-pointed star, surrounded by a green laurel wreath, suspended from a gold bar with the inscription VALOR, surmounted by an eagle; the medal itself is suspended by a blue neck ribbon with a shield of the same color + 13 white stars, arranged in the form of three chevrons above the medal – this medal is only awarded by the President in the name of Congress, for a deed of personal bravery or self-sacrifice involving risk of life – introduced as "The Badge of Military Merit" on 7 August 1792, re-introduced on 17 February 1862 for the Army . Remark: the present design dates from 23 April 1904, while the neck ribbon was only adopted in 1944; there’s a special Medal of Honor for the US Navy and the US Air Force (with minor design differences)

 

The President of the United States, in the name of Congress, awarded more than 3,400 Medals of Honor to the Nation’s bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard personnel, since the decoration’s creation in 1861 !

In order to underline the acts of bravery and heroism carried out by Combat Medic in World War 2, I thought it would be fully justified to print some of the citations as recorded in military archives . I’ve taken 2 at random

(ETOUSA) Medal of Honor Recipients:

Dennis HOLM   (submitted by Alain Batens)

Some time ago, we had the privilege of receiving a very kind e-mail of a person with a lot of interest in the Medal of Honor – after having browsed through our webpages – this gentleman thought it was very touching of us giving so much attention to Medal of Honor citations specifically involving medical personnel – he also declared to be very moved and wondered what went through a Medic’s mind, when he spontaneously commits himself to an act of heroism, which could more than likely end his own life …

 The person we are talking of is Dennis HOLM, former Art Director with the Stamp Division, US Postal Service (in the early 1980s), who designed the Medal of Honor commemorative stamp, depicting all three Medals of Honor . He also experienced the First Day (of issue) ceremonies at The Pentagon on June 7, 1983, where he was invited as an honored guest and designer . Mr. Holm described this as quite a special experience to be there with all those men wearing the ‘blue ribbon’, but said, it made him really feel very humble, and grateful to be present among them …

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 Above  is an illustration of a First  Day Cover and Medal of Honor Commemorative Stamp (as designed by Dennis HOLM), dated Washington, D.C., June 7, 1983, and signed by the designer himself . (courtesy D. Holm)

Mr. Holm was kind enough to provide us also with an (updated) list secured from the U.S. Army Medical Department Museum, providing names of U.S. Army, Medical Department Medal of Honor recipients, from the Civil War to Vietnam

CIVIL WAR                                                                            WORLD WAR II

 William R.D. Blackwood                                                   PFC Desmond T. Doss

Joseph K. Corson                                                             PVT Harold A. Garman

Richard Curran                                                                   PFC Lloyd C. Hawks (*)

Andrew Davidson                                                               CPL Thomas J. Kelly

Gabriel Grant                                                                     PVT William D. McGee (*)

Gabriel Ranney                                                                  PFC Frederick C. Murphy (*)

Jacob F. Raub                                                                    T/5 James K. Okubo

Harry James Thompson                                                    T/4 Laverne Parrish (*)

Dr. Mary E. Walker                                                             PFC Frank J. Petrarca (*)

                                                                                            CPT Ben L. Salomon (*)

INDIAN WARS                                                                 T/5 Alfred L. Wilson (*)

 William C. Bryan                                                                      KOREAN WAR

Oscar Burkard                                                                     SGT David B. Bleak                        

Bernard J.D. Irwin                                                               PFC Richard G. Wilson (*)                                        

John O. Skinner                                                                  PFC Bryant E. Womack (*)                 

Henry R. Tilton                                                                                    

Leonard Wood                                                                            VIETNAM WAR

                                                                                             SGT Gary B. Beikirch                  

SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR                                         CPL Thomas W. Bennett (*)

                                                                                             MAJ Patrick H. Brady

James Robb Church                                                          SP4 Donald W. Evans, Jr (*)

                                                                                            SP5 Charles C. Hagemeister                   

PHILIPPINE INSURRECTION                                      SP5 Lawrence Joel

                                                                                             PFC Kenneth M. Kays                 

George W. Mathews                                                          SP4 Joseph G. LaPointe, Jr (*)

George F. Shiels                                                                SP4 Thomas J. McMahon (*)                  

Paul F. Straub                                                                    SP5 Edgar L. McWethy, Jr (*)                 

                                                                                             CWO Michael J. Novosel                  

WORLD WAR I                                                                   SP4 Alfred V. Rascon

                                                                                             WO1 Louis R. Rocco                  

PFC Charles D. Barger                                                    SP5 Clarence E. Sasser                

PFC Jesse N. Funk                                                           PFC Daniel J. Shea

                                                                                             PFC David F. Winder                  

(*) posthumous award                                                                     

ranks as reflected on Citation texts                                                  

 (List & Names, courtesy G. Alan Knight, Curator US Army Medical Department Museum & Dennis Holm, Designer, Medal of Honor Commemorative Stamp)

 

Thomas J. KELLY

Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Medical Detachment, 48th Armored Infantry Battalion, 7th Armored Division. Place & date: Alemert, Germany, 5 April 1945. Entered service at: Brooklyn, N.Y.. Born: Brooklyn, N.Y. (date n.a.). G.O. N°97, 1 November 1945.

Citation: He was an aidman with the 1st Platoon, Co C during an attack on the town of Alemert, Germany. The platoon, committed in a flanking maneuver had advanced down a small open valley, overlooked by wooded slopes hiding enemy machineguns and tanks, when the attack was stopped by murderous fire that inflicted heavy casualties in the American ranks. Ordered to withdraw, Cpl. Kelly reached safety with the uninjured remnants of the unit, but, on realizing the extent of casualties suffered by the platoon, he voluntarily retraced his steps and began evacuating his comrades under direct machinegun fire. He was forced to crawl, dragging the injured behind him for most of the 300 yards separating the exposed area from a place of comparative safety. Two other volunteers who attempted to negotiate the hazardous route with him were mortally wounded, but he kept on with his herculean task after dressing their wounds and carrying them to friendly hands. In all, he made 10 separate trips through the brutal fire, each time bringing out a man from this death trap. 7 more casualties who were able to crawl by themselves he guided and encouraged in escaping from the hail of fire. After he had completed his heroic, self-imposed task and was near collapse from fatigue, he refused to leave his platoon until the attack had been resumed and the objective taken. Cpl. Kelly’s gallantry and intrepidity in the face of seemingly certain death saved the lives of many of his fellow soldiers and was an example of bravery under fire.

Harold A. GARMAN

Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Co. B, 5th Medical Battalion, 5th Infantry Division. Place & date: near Montereau, France, 25 August 1944. Entered service at: Albion, Illinois. Born: 26 February 1918, Fairfield, Ill. G.O. N°20, 29 March 1945.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On 25 August 1944, in the vicinity of Montereau, France, the enemy was sharply contesting any enlargement of the bridgehead which our forces has established on the northern bank of the Seine river in this sector. Casualties were being evacuated to the southern shore in assault boats paddled by litter bearers from the medical battalion. Pvt. Garman, also a litter bearer in this battalion, was working on the friendly shore carrying the wounded from the boats to waiting ambulances. As one boatload of wounded reached midstream, a German machinegun suddenly opened fire upon it from a commanding position on the northern bank 100 yards away. All of the men in the boat immediately took to the water, except one man who was so badly wounded he could not rise from his litter. Two other patients who were unable to swim because of their wounds clung to the sides of the boat. Seeing the extreme danger of these patients, Pvt. Garman without a moment’s hesitation plunged into the Seine. Swimming directly into a hail of machinegun bullets, he rapidly reached the assault boat and then, while still under accurately aimed enemy fire, towed the boat with great effort to the southern shore. This soldier’s moving heroism not only saved the lives of the three patients but so inspired his comrades that additional assault boats were immediately procured and the evacuation of the wounded resumed. Pvt. Garman’s great courage and his heroic devotion to the highest tenets of the Medical Corps may be written with great pride in the annals of the Corps.

NOTE:: other medical personnel equally awarded the Medal of Honor (i.e. ETOUSA) were Lloyd C. HAWKS (Med Det, 30th Inf Regt, 3d Inf Div), William D. McGEE (Med Det, 304th Inf Regt, 76th Inf Div), Frederick C. MURPHY (Med Det, 259th Inf Regt, 65th Inf Div), James K. OKUBO (Med Det, 442d RCT), Alfred L. WILSON (Med Det, 328th Inf Regt, 26th Inf Div) … I hope my records are correct and complete, my sincere apologies if this is not the case, no offense meant by the author !

 

NAVY CORPSMAN MEDAL OF HONOR RECEPIENTS (submitted by Mark Flowers):

Robert Eugene BUSH

Rank and organization: Hospital Apprentice First Class, U.S. Naval Reserve, serving as Medical Corpsman with a rifle company, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. Place and date: Okinawa Jima, Ryukyu Islands, 2 May 1945. Entered service at: Washington. Born: 4 October 1926, Tacoma, Wash.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Medical Corpsman with a rifle company, in action against enemy Japanese forces on OkinawaJima, Ryukyu Islands, 2 May 1945. Fearlessly braving the fury of artillery, mortar, and machinegun fire from strongly entrenched hostile positions,Bush constantly and unhesitatingly moved from 1 casualty to another to attend the wounded falling under the enemy's murderous barrages. As the attack passed over a ridge top, Bush was advancing to administer blood plasma to a Marine officer Iying wounded on the skyline when the Japanese launched a savage counterattack. In this perilously exposed position, heresolutely maintained the flow of life-giving plasma. With the bottle held high in 1 hand, Bush drew his pistol with the other and fired into the enemy's ranks until his ammunition was expended. Quickly seizing a discarded carbine, he trained his fire on the Japanese charging pointblank over the hill, accounting for 6 of the enemy despite his own serious wounds andthe loss of 1 eye suffered during his desperate battle in defense of the helpless man. With the hostile force finally routed, he calmly disregardedhis own critical condition to complete his mission, valiantly refusing medical treatment for himself until his officer patient had been evacuated, and collapsing only after attempting to walk to the battle aid station. His daring initiative, great personal valor, and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice in service of others reflect great credit upon Bush and enhance the finesttraditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

William David HALYBURTON (Posthumous)

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 concentrationof 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.

 Fred Faulkner LESTER (Posthumous)

 Rank and organization: Hospital Apprentice First Class, U.S. Navy. Born: 29 April 1926, Downers Grove, Ill. Accredited to: Illinois.

 Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Medical Corpsman with an assault rifle platoon, attached to the 1st Battalion, 22d Marines, 6th Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyu Chain, 8 June 1945. Quick to spot a wounded Marine Iying in an open field beyond the front lines following the relentless assault against a strategic Japanese hill position, Lester unhesitatingly crawled toward the casualty under a concentrated barrage from hostile machineguns, rifles, and grenades.Torn by enemy rifle bullets as he inched forward, he stoically disregarded the mounting fury of Japanese fire and his own pain to pull the wounded man toward a covered position. Struck by enemy fire a second time before he reached cover, he exerted tremendous effort and succeeded in pulling his comrade to safety where, too seriously wounded himself to administer aid, he instructed 2 of his squad in proper medical treatment of the rescued Marine. Realizing that his own wounds were fatal, he staunchly refusedmedical attention for himself and, gathering his fast-waning strength with calm determination, coolly and expertly directed his men in the treatment of 2 other wounded Marines, succumbing shortly thereafter. Completely selfless in his concern for the welfare of his fighting comrades, Lester, by his indomitable spirit, outstanding valor, and competent direction of others,had saved the life of 1 who otherwise must have perished and had contributed to the safety of countless others. Lester's fortitude in the face of certain death sustains and enhances the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Francis PIERCE Jr.

Rank and organization: Pharmacist's Mate First Class, U.S. Navy serving with 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division.Place and date: Iwo Jima, 15 and 16 March 1945. Entered service at lowa . Born: 7 December 1924, Earlville, lowa.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division, during the Iwo Jima campaign, 15 and 16 March 1945. Almost continuously under fire while carrying out the most dangerous volunteer assignments, Pierce gained valuable knowledge of the terrain and disposition of troops. Caught in heavy enemy rifle and machinegun fire which wounded a corpsman and 2 of the 8 stretcher bearers who were carrying 2 wounded Marines to a forward aid station on 15 March, Pierce quickly took charge of the party, carried the newly wounded men to a sheltered position, and rendered first aid. After directing the evacuation of 3 of the casualties, he stood in the open to draw the enemy's fire and, with his weapon blasting, enabled the litter bearers to reach cover. Turning his attention to the other 2 casualties he was attempting to stop the profuse bleeding of 1 man when a Japanese fired from a cave less than 20 yards away and wounded his patient again. Risking his own life to save his patient, Pierce deliberately exposed himself to draw the attacker from the cave and destroyed him with the last of his ammunition. Then lifting the wounded man to his back, he advanced unarmed through deadly rifle fire across 200 feet of open terrain. Despite exhaustion and in the face of warnings against such a suicidal mission, he again traversed the same fire-swept path to rescue the remaining Marine. On the following morning, he led a combat patrol to the sniper nest and, while aiding a stricken Marine, was seriously wounded. Refusing aid for himself, he directed treatment for the casualty, at the same time maintaining protective fire for his comrades. Completely fearless, completely devoted to the care of his patients, Pierce inspired the entire battalion. His valor in the face of extreme peril sustains and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

George Edward WAHLEN

Rank and organization: Pharmacist's Mate Second Class, U.S. Navy, serving with 2d Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division. Place and date: Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands group, 3 March 1945. Entered service at: Utah. Born: 8 August 1924, Ogden, Utah.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 2d Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, during action against enemy  Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano group on 3 March 1945. Painfully wounded in the bitter action on 26 February, Wahlen remained on the battlefield, advancing well forward of the frontlines to aid a wounded Marine and carrying him back to safety despite a terrific concentration of fire. Tireless in his ministrations, he consistently  disregarded all danger to attend his fighting comrades as they fell under the devastating rain of shrapnel and bullets, and rendered prompt assistance to various elements of his combat group as required. When an adjacent platoon suffered heavy casualties, he defied the continuous pounding of heavy mortars and deadly fire of enemy rifles to care for the wounded, working rapidly in an area swept by constant fire and treating 14 casualties before returning to his own platoon. Wounded  again on 2 March, he gallantly refused evacuation, moving out with his company the following day in a furious assault across 600 yards of open terrain and repeatedly rendering medical aid while exposed to the blasting fury of powerful Japanese guns. Stouthearted and indomitable, he persevered in his determined efforts as his unit waged fierce battle and, unable to walk after sustaining a third agonizing wound, resolutely crawled 50 yards to administer first aid to still another fallen fighter. By his dauntless fortitude and valor, Wahlen served as a constant inspiration and contributed vitally to the high morale of his company during critical phases of this strategically important engagement. His heroic spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of overwhelming enemy fire upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Jack WILLIAMS (Posthumous)

Rank and organization: Pharmacist's Mate Third Class, U.S. Naval Reserve. Born: 18 October 1924, Harrison, Ark. Accredited to: Arkansas.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 3d Battalion 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division, during the occupation of Iwo Jima Volcano Islands, 3 March 1945. Gallantly going forward on the front lines under intense enemy small-arms fire to assist a Marine wounded in a fierce grenade battle, Williams dragged the man to a shallow depression and was kneeling, using his own body as a screen from the sustained fire as he administered first aid, when struck in the abdomen and groin 3 times by hostile rifle fire. Momentarily stunned, he quickly recovered and completed his ministration before applying battle dressings to his own multiple wounds. Unmindful of his own urgent need for medical attention, he remained in the perilous fire-swept area to care for another Marine casualty. Heroically completing his task despite pain and profuse bleeding, he then endeavored to make his way to the rear in search of adequate aid for himself when struck down by a Japanese sniper bullet which caused his collapse. Succumbing later as a result of his self-sacrificing service to others, Williams, by his courageous determination, unwavering fortitude and valiant performance of duty, served as an inspiring example of heroism, in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

John Harlan WILLIS (Posthumous)

Rank and organization: Pharmacist's Mate First Class, U.S. Navy. Born: 10 June 1921, Columbia, Tenn. Accredited to: Tennessee.

 Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Platoon Corpsman serving with the 3d Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, during operations against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 28 February 1945. Constantly imperiled by artillery and mortar fire from strong and mutually supporting pillboxes and caves studding Hill 362 in the enemy's cross-island defenses, Willis resolutely administered first aid to the many Marines wounded during the furious close-in fighting until he himself was struck by shrapnel and was ordered back to the battalion aid station. Without waiting for official medical release, he quickly returned to his company and, during a savage hand-to-hand enemy counterattack, daringly advanced to the extreme front lines under mortar and sniper fire to aid a Marine Iying wounded in a shellhole. Completely unmindful of his own danger as the Japanese intensified their attack, Willis calmly continued to administer blood plasma to his patient, promptly returning the first hostile grenade which landed in the shell-hole while he was working and hurling back seven more in quick succession before the ninth grenade exploded in his hand and instantly killed him. By his great personal valor in  saving others at the sacrifice of his own life, he inspired his companions, although terrifically outnumbered, to launch a fiercely determined attack and repulse the enemy  force. His exceptional fortitude and courage in the performance of duty reflect the highest credit upon Willis and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

  

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