Just a reminder... as with all material LeatherneckM31 photos... these photographs are copyrighted material, all rights reserved.
A smooth transition as Mike takes over from Don as president of the Host City Program... just in time for the Recipients' annual convention in Green Bay.
Approximately 70 Recipients attend Septmber '07
Mr. Rubin's is an amazing story among thousands of Recipients' combat actions
I had followed Ted's story for many years as fellow Korean War comrades and suppoorters fought to get his Medal, the recommentation for which had destroyed by a company first sergeant who was a virulent anti-Semite
Joe landed his cargo plane on a remote Vietnam landing strip to snatch a Special Forces team from certain death.
Despite surviving the crash of his chopper, Wetzel, while trying to save a comradfe was brough down by a grenade explosion which shreaded his arm, rendering it useless. He fought on for the next 12 hours before reinforcements could arrive.
Pardon a few "I love me" shots in this batch... Cliff Yow has joined our group and now I have someone who I can share the photo duties with and appear in some besides.
Catton has been instrumental in the arrest and prosecution of a number of MOH frauds. One actually showed up here at the Green Bay convention.
Korea -- Cpl. Miyamura ordered his men to fall back while he remained to cover their movement. He killed more than 50 of the enemy before his ammunition was depleted and he was severely wounded. He maintained his magnificent stand despite his painful wounds, continuing to repel the attack until his position was overrun. When last seen he was fighting ferociously against an overwhelming number of enemy soldiers.
Korea -- Simanek jumped into the trench line with six comrades as the rest of the patrol headed back down the hill. Though wounded by an exploding grenade, he continued to operate the patrol’s radio and fire at the enemy with a .45-caliber pistol. Then his weapon jammed; he yelled to a Marine to toss him another one, but at that moment a secondChinese grenade landed in the middle of the trench. Realizing that it could kill or injure all the Marines in the bunker, he rolled over on top of it and absorbed the force of the explosion with his legs.
Simanek tried to make his legs move but couldn’t—he was also badly wounded in the hip and knee. With the enemy becoming bolder, he asked for air support, and a P-51 swooped down to drop napalm. For the next two hours, he maintained radio communications with the command post and directed tank and artillery fire against enemy positions, while at the same time shooting at the Chinese with his pistol. The Chinese finally retreated.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Vickey is a great person who gets things done at the Medal of Honor Scoiety HQ.
Kaneohe Bay, Dec. 7 -- Although painfully wounded many times, Finn continued to man this gun and to return the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes.
Germany -- Automatic weapons fire was crackling all around him. To his amazement, Oresko covered the fifty feet to the first German gun position without getting hit. He tossed a grenade into the log bunker; after it exploded, he rushed in, shooting point-blank with his rifle and killing all the soldiers manning the position. Then the second German gun started firing on him, wounding him in the hip and knocking him down. While the gun continued to fire, he realized that because he was at the base of the bunker, below the gun slit, the gunners couldn’t see him. As he crawled forward, his hand touched a wire hidden in the snow; he rolled into a shallow hole just as a booby trap went off close by.
By this time, Oresko was directly below the German machine gun, which continued firing over his head at his men. He reached inside his jacket for grenades, but there weren’t any there—he had lost them in the snow. He crawled back to retrieve them, then headed back to the gun. He pulled the pin on one of the grenades, counted to four, and tossed it into the bunker. As it exploded, he followed it in, wiping out all the soldiers inside with his rifle. In all, he killed twelve Germans and cleared the way for his company to go back on the offensive.
The position secured, Oresko allowed medics to evacuate him to a field hospital.
One of "our" Host City Receipents... were especially glad to have David at our functions each year.
Central Highlands '67 --Sergeant McNerney told his company commander that he would go to the front of the action to get a clearer picture of what they faced. He still remembers the sound of the bullets all around him: like angry bees. Hitting the dirt, he opened fire on the North Vietnamese and killed several of them. Then he saw, as if in slow motion, a grenade sailing through the air toward him. The concussion lifted him in the air and thumped him down.
Learning that his commander and forward artillery observer had been killed, McNerney took over command of the company. Sensing that the enemy was about to envelop his unit, he called in artillery fire to within about sixty-five feet of his position. Having run out of smoke grenades, McNerney moved into a nearby clearing to mark the location for U.S. planes. In plain view of the enemy and under constant fire, he climbed a tree and tied the unit’s brightly colored identification panel to the highest branches so that friendly aircraft would know where the Americans were.
Still under heavy fire, McNerney crawled into no-man’s-land to collect demolition materials from the rucksacks of the men who had dropped them when the fighting began. He used the explosives to blow up large trees and clear a landing site so that helicopters could begin evacuating his hard-hit unit. Disregarding the pain of his injuries and refusing medical evacuation, McNerney remained with his unit until the next day, when a new commander arrived.
Nick is a friened of mine... a fellow Coloradoan.
With "Medal of Honor -- Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty" Nick has produced a landmark piece of history. In the 145 years of the Medal'sa history no one had ever undertaken the daunting taks of making formal portraits of the nation's Recipients.
A richly moving testament to our military heroes--137 recipients of the Medal of Honor, in photographs as they are today. Photographed over the course of five years, Del Calzo's portraits present these icons of valor with dignity and reverence. The book has received extensive critical acclaim nationally on TV, cable and print, including the NY Times Best Seller List for four consecutive weeks. Now in its second (and expanded) edition.
Two generations... WWII and Vietnam
By late 1968, Howard had already been recommended for the Medal of Honor on two separate occasions when, on the afternoon of December 28, his unit was ordered to rescue a wounded Green Beret. As the choppers carrying his platoon of American and Vietnamese Special Forces tried to land, the enemy opened fire. It took two hours for Howard and his men to clear the landing zone and get all the troops in. By dusk, as they were moving forward to a hill where they thought the wounded Green Beret might be hiding, a force of about 250 North Vietnamese suddenly attacked.
Howard and his lieutenant were at the head of the platoon when a claymore mine went off nearby. Howard was knocked unconscious; when he came to, he thought he was blind, until he realized that the blood from wounds on his face had gotten into his eyes.
His hands were mangled by shrapnel, which had also destroyed his weapon. He could hear his lieutenant groaning in pain a few yards away, and he was almost overcome by a sickening odor: An enemy soldier with a Soviet flamethrower was burning the bodies of Howard’s comrades killed in the attack.
Deciding to blow himself up rather than be incinerated, too, Howard struggled to get a grenade off his web belt, then fumbled with the pin. The soldier with the flamethrower watched him for a moment, then walked away. Howard threw the grenade after him,
then crawled to his lieutenant and tried to pull him down the hill into a ravine where the surviving Americans and South Vietnamese had taken refuge.
When he got the officer down to a large tree root, where another GI had taken shelter, he screamed at the soldier to hand over his weapon. The soldier tossed him his .45 pistol, then opened fire himself with his rifle, killing three enemy soldiers who were trying to capture Howard and his lieutenant.
At that moment an NVA round struck Howard’s ammunition pouch, blowing him several feet down the hill. Still clutching the .45, he crawled back to the lieutenant, shooting several North Vietnamese along the way, and finally dragged him down to the ravine.
Howard took charge of the remaining Special Forces troops, then called in U.S. air strikes. For the next two days the North Vietnamese probed his position. On the morning of December 31, U.S. helicopters were finally able to stage an evacuation.
Iwo Jima -- On March 2, Wahlen was wounded again, this time in the back. Again he refused evacuation. The next day, he moved out with his company in an assault that took him over more than six hundred yards of open terrain in the face of Japanese fire. He was hit in the leg; unable to walk, he crawled fifty yards to administer first aid to another fallen Marine. Of the 240 men in Wahlen’s company, only five came through the battle of Iwo Jima without being wounded or killed. Counting replacements brought up during the fighting, the company suffered a 125 percent casualty rate.
Sakato tried to enlist in the Army Air Corps but was rejected because of his draft status—4-C, undesirable alien.
Finally successful, he enlisted and was assigned to the 442nd Regt. Comnat Team.
When Germans counterattacked his unit, one of his close friends was hit and died in his arms. Seeking vengeance, Sakato took charge of the squad, fighting with an enemy rifle and pistol he picked up from the battlefield after his tommy gun ran out of ammunition. He killed another seven Germans and led his platoon in capturing thirty-four more. His unit held its position until it was relieved.
A few days later, the 442nd attempted to break through the Germans’ encirclement of a battalion of the 141st Infantry Regiment, known as the Lost Battalion. The Japanese American unit suffered more than 800 casualties in rescuing the 211 trapped GIs. During the battle, Sakato was knocked down by a mortar shell; the bulky winter overcoat he was carrying in his pack kept him from being killed by the shrapnel that struck his spine and lungs.
Sakato was hospitalized for eight months. He heard that he had been recommended for the Medal of Honor, but the decoration he received was the Distinguished Service Cross. He didn’t think anything more about it until the morning fifty-five years later when he received a call from the Pentagon. His award was being upgraded to the Medal of Honor as the result of a review of the records of Asian American soldiers who had received the DSC.
Rubin, a Jew, survived Nazi death camps to immigrate to America and enlist for the Korean War.
Rubin's unit was overwhelming by North Korean troops who assaulted a hill defended solely by Corporal Rubin. He inflicted a staggering number of casualties on the attacking force during his personal 24-hour battle, single-handedly slowing the enemy advance and allowing the 8th Cavalry Regiment to complete its withdrawal successfully. Following the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, the 8 th Cavalry Regiment proceeded northward and advanced into North Korea. During the advance, he helped capture several hundred North Korean soldiers. On October 30, 1950, Chinese forces attacked his unit at Unsan, North Korea, during a massive nighttime assault. That night and throughout the next day, he manned a .30 caliber machine gun at the south end of the unit's line after three previous gunners became casualties. He continued to man his machine gun until his ammunition was exhausted. His determined stand slowed the pace of the enemy advance in his sector, permitting the remnants of his unit to retreat southward. As the battle raged, Corporal Rubin was severely wounded and captured by the Chinese. Choosing to remain in the prison camp despite offers from the Chinese to return him to his native Hungary, Corporal Rubin disregarded his own personal safety and immediately began sneaking out of the camp at night in search of food for his comrades. Breaking into enemy food storehouses and gardens, he risked certain torture or death if caught. Corporal Rubin provided not only food to the starving Soldiers, but also desperately needed medical care and moral support for the sick and wounded of the POW camp. His brave, selfless efforts were directly attributed to saving the lives of as many as forty of his fellow prisoners.
Vietnam -- Stumph picked up 1 of the men and carried him back to the safety of the trench. Twice more S/Sgt. Stumpf dashed forward while the enemy turned automatic weapons and machineguns upon him, yet he managed to rescue the remaining 2 wounded squad members. He then organized his squad and led an assault against several enemy bunkers from which continuously heavy fire was being received He and his squad successfully eliminated 2 of the bunker positions, but one to the front of the advancing platoon remained a serious threat. Arming himself with extra hand grenades, S/Sgt. Stumpf ran over open ground, through a volley of fire directed at him by a determined enemy, toward the machinegun position. As he reached the bunker, he threw a hand grenade through the aperture. It was immediately returned by the occupants, forcing S/Sgt. Stumpf to take cover. Undaunted, he pulled the pins on 2 more grenades, held them for a few seconds after activation, then hurled them into the position, this time successfully destroying the emplacement. With the elimination of this key position, his unit was able to assault and overrun the enemy.
When he discovered that most of the men in this gunpit were also wounded, he completely disregarded his own injury, directed their withdrawal to a location 30 meters away, and again risked his life by remaining behind and covering the movement with the utmost effectiveness. Noticing that his team sergeant was unable to evacuate the gun pit he crawled toward him and, while dragging the fallen soldier out of the gunpit, an enemy mortar exploded and inflicted a wound in Capt. Donlon's left shoulder. Although suffering from multiple wounds, he carried the abandoned 60mm mortar weapon to a new location 30 meters away where he found 3 wounded defenders. After administering first aid and encouragement to these men, he left the weapon with them, headed toward another position, and retrieved a 57mm recoilless rifle. Then with great courage and coolness under fire, he returned to the abandoned gun pit, evacuated ammunition for the 2 weapons, and while crawling and dragging the urgently needed ammunition, received a third wound on his leg by an enemy hand grenade. Despite his critical physical condition, he again crawled 175 meters to an 81mm mortar position and directed firing operations which protected the seriously threatened east sector of the camp. He then moved to an eastern 60mm mortar position and upon determining that the vicious enemy assault had weakened, crawled back to the gun pit with the 60mm mortar, set it up for defensive operations, and turned it over to 2 defenders with minor wounds. Without hesitation, he left this sheltered position, and moved from position to position around the beleaguered perimeter while hurling hand grenades at the enemy and inspiring his men to superhuman effort. As he bravely continued to move around the perimeter, a mortar shell exploded, wounding him in the face and body. As the long awaited daylight brought defeat to the enemy forces and their retreat back to the jungle leaving behind 54 of their dead, many weapons, and grenades, Capt. Donlon immediately reorganized his defenses and administered first aid to the wounded. His dynamic leadership, fortitude, and valiant efforts inspired not only the American personnel but the friendly Vietnamese defenders as well and resulted in the successful defense of the camp.
Capt. Ray began directing the reinforcement of the site. When an enemy position pinned down 3 of his men with a heavy volume of automatic weapons fire, he silenced the emplacement with a grenade and killed 4 Viet Cong with his rifle fire. As medics were moving a casualty toward a sheltered position, they began receiving intense hostile fire. While directing suppressive fire on the enemy position, Capt. Ray moved close enough to silence the enemy with a grenade. A few moments later Capt. Ray saw an enemy grenade land, unnoticed, near 2 of his men. Without hesitation or regard for his safety he dove between the grenade and the men, thus shielding them from the explosion while receiving wounds in his exposed feet and legs. He immediately sustained additional wounds in his legs from an enemy machinegun, but nevertheless he silenced the emplacement with another grenade. Although suffering great pain from his wounds, Capt. Ray continued to direct his men, providing the outstanding courage and leadership they vitally needed, and prevented their annihilation by successfully leading them from their surrounded position. Only after assuring that his platoon was no longer in immediate danger did he allow himself to be evacuated for medical treatment.
Over a period of three days:
The second night of the battle was fought at close quarters against a North Vietnamese force that was now battalion-size. Modrzejewski was wounded by shrapnel, but he managed to run and crawl two hundred yards to retrieve ammunition and provide it to a vulnerable part of his force. He later called in artillery strikes, which came within a few yards of the Marine positions.
By the third day, his unit had sustained many casualties, was surrounded, and was running out of ammunition. The enemy, now grown to the size of a regiment, attacked just before noon amid the noise of bugles and whistles and the explosions of mortars and automatic weapons. Facing more than one thousand soldiers, Modrzejewski reorganized his men for close combat. He called in air strikes again, calibrating them to hit so close that some of his men had to jump into a stream to keep from being roasted alive by napalm. Then, sometime before dark, for reasons Modrzejewski never fully understood, the North Vietnamese force broke off its assault and withdrew into the mountains.
On the night of April 24, 1951, Miyamura's unit occupied a defensive position near Taejon, South Korea, when it was attacked by the enemy. As the enemy force overran the Americans' position, Corporal Miyamura, a machine-gun squad leader, leaped from his shelter and, in close hand-to-hand combat, killed 10 of the enemy with his bayonet. After the first attack, while Miyamura administered first aid to the wounded and ordered the evacuation of his men, the enemy dealt another savage blow. Miyamura delivered devastating fire with his machine gun until he ran out of ammunition. He then bayoneted his way to a second gun emplacement and covered the withdrawal of his unit with machine gun fire until his ammunition was depleted. Miyamura killed more than 50 of the enemy before he was severely wounded and later captured. He spent 28 months as a prisoner of war and was released in August 1953. Word of his Medal of Honor was kept secret during his time in captivity for his protection.
It was 2:00 a.m., pitch black and raining. Soon the night erupted with enemy artillery, mortar, and machine-gun fire. Seeing the enemy advancing in overwhelming numbers, twenty-year-old Corporal Hernandez and the other soldier in his foxhole opened up with their rifles; almost immediately, both men were wounded.
Though the rest of the platoon retreated, Hernandez and his foxhole mate held their position and kept firing. When a shell ruptured in the chamber of his weapon, Hernandez climbed out of the foxhole and charged the North Koreans armed only with grenades and a rifle with a fixed bayonet. His actions stopped the enemy advance and gave his comrades time to reload their weapons, regroup, and counterattack. But by then, his men had lost sight of him.
Hernandez was found the next morning near death, lying among the bodies of the six North Koreans he had killed before falling to bayonet wounds and fragments from artillery shells. He was initially pronounced dead, but then someone saw a slight movement of his hand, and medics frantically began to work on him. He finally drifted up to semiconsciousness in a South Korean hospital a month later, but he still couldn’t fully comprehend where he was, and he was unable to move his arms or legs, talk, or swallow. Doctors explained
that shrapnel from an artillery shell had torn away a portion of his brain. After eight weeks, he was brought home to Letterman Hospital in San Francisco, where doctors replaced the damaged part of his skull with a plastic plate and covered it with hairless skin. It was months more before he uttered his first word. After several compliments on the cheerful look he had worn during his darkest days, he realized that his frozen “smile” was the result of operations on the bayonet wounds to his face.
When he eventually learned to walk again several months later, he was told he was to receive the Medal of Honor.
Korean War's first MOH
Hudner's wingman, Jesse Brown's Corsair was moking badly and without power, the aircraft was too low for him to bail out or clear the snow-covered mountains. Hudner followed Brown down, calling off a checklist to help prepare him for the crash landing.
Brown put his plane down in a wheels-up landing in a clearing below. The impact buckled the fuselage at the cockpit, and Hudner was certain that Brown was dead. To his amazement, Brown opened the canopy and waved weakly, but he appeared to be unable to free himself. Knowing that rescue helicopters had a long distance to travel, Hudner decided to help Brown get out of the plane himself. He didn’t ask permission from the flight leader because he knew it would be denied.
Hudner radioed, “I’m going in,” then dumped his ordnance, dropped his flaps, and landed wheels up, hitting the hilly area hard. He got out and struggled through the snow to get to the downed plane. Hudner saw that Brown’s right leg was crushed by the damaged instrument panel, and he was unable to pull him out of the wreckage.
Hudner kept packing snow into the smoking engine and talking to Brown as he drifted in and out of consciousness. When a U.S. helicopter arrived, the pilot worked with Hudner for forty-five minutes trying to get Brown out. They hacked at the plane with an ax, and even considered amputating Brown’s trapped leg with a knife. The snow packed on the bottom of their boots prevented them from getting any firm footing
on the plane’s wing. As nightfall approached, bringing temperatures as low as thirty degrees below zero, it was clear that Brown was dead. Hudner hated to leave the body behind, but the helicopter pilot couldn’t fly in the mountainous terrain after dark. Reluctantly, the two men were forced to return to base camp.
Capt. Fritz' vehicle was hit and he was seriously wounded. Realizing that his platoon was completely surrounded, vastly outnumbered, and in danger of being overrun, Capt. Fritz leaped to the top of his burning vehicle and directed the positioning of his remaining vehicles and men. With complete disregard for his wounds and safety, he ran from vehicle to vehicle in complete view of the enemy gunners in order to reposition his men, to improve the defenses, to assist the wounded, to distribute ammunition, to direct fire, and to provide encouragement to his men. When a strong enemy force assaulted the position and attempted to overrun the platoon, Capt. Fritz manned a machinegun and through his exemplary action inspired his men to deliver intense and deadly fire which broke the assault and routed the attackers. Moments later a second enemy force advanced to within 2 meters of the position and threatened to overwhelm the defenders. Capt. Fritz, armed only with a pistol and bayonet, led a small group of his men in a fierce and daring charge which routed the attackers and inflicted heavy casualties. When a relief force arrived, Capt. Fritz saw that it was not deploying effectively against the enemy positions, and he moved through the heavy enemy fire to direct its deployment against the hostile positions. This deployment forced the enemy to abandon the ambush site and withdraw. Despite his wounds, Capt. Fritz returned to his position, assisted his men, and refused medical attention until all of his wounded comrades had been treated and evacuated. The extraordinary courage and selflessness displayed by Capt. Fritz, at the repeated risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect the greatest credit upon himself, his unit, and the Armed Forces.
Maj. Fisher observed a fellow airman crash land on the battle-torn airstrip. In the belief that the downed pilot was seriously injured and in imminent danger of capture, Maj. Fisher announced his intention to land on the airstrip to effect a rescue. Although aware of the extreme danger and likely failure of such an attempt, he elected to continue. Directing his own air cover, he landed his aircraft and taxied almost the full length of the runway, which was littered with battle debris and parts of an exploded aircraft. While effecting a successful rescue of the downed pilot, heavy ground fire was observed, with 19 bullets striking his aircraft. In the face of the withering ground fire, he applied power and gained enough speed to lift-off at the overrun of the airstrip. Maj. Fisher's profound concern for his fellow airman, and at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.
1967-- An estimated fifteen hundred Vietcong soldiers launched an intense ground assault, failing to overrun Davis' artillery battery only because a river separated the two forces.
Davis’ squad was operating a 105 mm howitzer that fired eighteen thousand beehive darts in each shell. When he saw how close the enemy had come, Davis took over a machine gun and provided covering fire for his gun crew. But an enemy recoilless rifle round scored a direct hit on the howitzer, knocking the crew from the weapon and blowing Davis sideways into a foxhole. Sometime before dawn, as he lay unconscious, he was seriously wounded in the back and buttocks by a beehive round fired from an American weapon. When Davis regained consciousness, he was convinced that the heavily outnumbered Americans couldn’t survive the attack, so he decided to fire off at least one round from the damaged artillery piece before being overrun. He struggled to his feet, rammed a shell into the gun, and fired point-blank at the Vietcong who were advancing five deep directly in front of the weapon; the beehive round cut them down. An enemy mortar round exploded nearby, knocking Davis to the ground, but he got up and kept firing the howitzer. When there were no more rounds left, he fired a white phosphorus shell, and then the last round he had—a “propaganda shell” filled with leaflets.
At this point, he heard yelling from the other side of the river and realized that GIs had been cut off there. Despite the fact that he could not swim due to his injuries, he got in the water and paddled across on an air mattress from the American camp. Scrambling up the bank, he found three wounded soldiers, one of them suffering from a head wound that looked fatal. He gave them all morphine and got the gravely wounded soldier back across the river where others pulled him to safety. Davis then went back for the other two wounded soldiers and pulled them onto the air mattress across
the river to the firebase. He eventually made his way to an American howitzer crew and resumed the fight.
From the window of the factory, he saw that an abandoned half-track across the street contained rockets. Under intense enemy fire, he ran to the half-track, loaded the bazooka, and fired at the nearest tank. By what he would later call a miracle, the rocket hit
the exact spot where the turret joined the chassis and disabled the vehicle.
Moving to another position, Currey saw three Germans in the doorway of an enemy-held house and shot all of them with his Browning Automatic Rifle. He then picked up the bazooka again and advanced, alone, to within fifty yards of the house. He fired a shot that collapsed one of its walls, scattering the remaining German soldiers inside. From this forward position, he saw five more GIs who had been cut off during the American withdrawal and were now under fire from three nearby German tanks. With antitank grenades he’d collected from the half-track, he forced the crews to abandon the tanks. Next, finding a machine gun whose crew had been killed, he opened fire on the retreating Germans, allowing the five trapped Americans to escape.
At nightfall, as Currey and his squad, including two seriously wounded men, tried to find their way back to the American lines, they came across an abandoned Army jeep fitted out with stretcher mounts. They loaded the wounded onto it, and Currey, perched on the jeep’s spare wheel with a Browning in his hand, rode shotgun back to the American lines.