Today's Medal of Honor Moment for 21 September

 
« Previous story
Next story »
 
Barker_JC_USMCPosthumous Medal of Honor awardee Lance Corporal Jedh Barker.  One helluva tough Marine.       There have been nine Medals awarded for actions on this day in history.  Five of them went to sailors for doing heroic things during the Civil War and in the 'Interim Period, 1871-1898."  All of those awards would probably be Navy and Marine Corps Medals today, the highest naval award for non-combat valor.
Civil War, aboard USS Montauk:
HORTON, JAMES Rank and organization: Gunner's Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1838, Massachusetts. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served as gunner's mate on board the U.S.S. Montauk, 21 September 1864. During the night of 21 September, when fire was discovered in the magazine lightroom of the vessel, causing a panic and demoralizing the crew, Horton rushed into the cabin, obtained the magazine keys, sprang into the lightroom and began passing out combustibles, Including the box of signals in which the fire originated. ROUNTRY, JOHN Rank and organization: First Class Fireman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1840, Massachusetts. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served as first class fireman on board the U.S.S. Montauk, 21 September 1864. During the night of 21 September when fire was discovered in the magazine lightroom of that vessel, causing a panic and demoralizing the crew, Rountry, notwithstanding the cry of "fire in the magazine," forced his way with hose in hand, through the frightened crowd to the lightroom and put out the flames. WEEKS, CHARLES H. Rank and organization: Captain of the Foretop, U.S. Navy. Born: 1837, New Jersey. Accredited to: New Jersey. G.O. No.: 84, 3 October 1867. Citation: Served as captain of the foretop on board the U.S.S. Montauk, 21 September 1864. During the night of 21 September, when fire was discovered in the magazine lightroom of that vessel, causing a panic and demoralizing the crew, Weeks, notwithstanding the cry of "fire in the magazine," displayed great presence of mind and rendered valuable service in extinguishing the flames which were imperiling the ship and the men on board. Interim Awards, 1871-1898, aboard (well, technically overboard) USS Trenton: MOORE, PHILIP Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born. 1853, Newfoundland. Accredited to: Rhode Island. G. O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. Citation: For jumping overboard from the U.S.S. Trenton, at Genoa, Italy, 21 September 1880, and rescuing from drowning Hans Paulsen, ordinary seaman. RUSSELL, JOHN Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1852, New York, N.Y. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. Citation: For jumping overboard from the U.S.S. Trenton, at Genoa, Italy, 21 September 1880, and rescuing from drowning Hans Paulsen, ordinary seaman.
As I continued through the wars, I allowed myself a glimmer of hope that this would be a really unique day for the Medal.  All the Medals for saving lives, all the recipients surviving, and not earned while wading through a sea of blood in a larger battle.  Then I got to the end of the World War Two list, and the Medal forcefully reminded me of the conditions under which we usually find it.  Four more Medals, all posthumous. World War II, in Holland during Operation Market-Garden, and one very focused soldier with a bazooka.
*TOWLE, JOHN R.
Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company C, 504th Parachute Infantry, 82d Airborne Division. Place and date: Near Oosterhout, Holland, 21 September 1944. Entered service at: Cleveland, Ohio. Birth: Cleveland, Ohio. G.O. No.: 18, 15 March 1945. Citation. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 21 September 1944, near Oosterhout, Holland. The rifle company in which Pvt. Towle served as rocket launcher gunner was occupying a defensive position in the west sector of the recently established Nijmegen bridgehead when a strong enemy force of approximately 100 infantry supported by 2 tanks and a half-track formed for a counterattack. With full knowledge of the disastrous consequences resulting not only to his company but to the entire bridgehead by an enemy breakthrough, Pvt. Towle immediately and without orders left his foxhole and moved 200 yards in the face of Intense small-arms fire to a position on an exposed dike roadbed. From this precarious position Pvt. Towle fired his rocket launcher at and hit both tanks to his immediate front. Armored skirting on both tanks prevented penetration by the projectiles, but both vehicles withdrew slightly damaged. Still under intense fire and fully exposed to the enemy, Pvt. Towle then engaged a nearby house which 9 Germans had entered and were using as a strongpoint and with 1 round killed all 9. Hurriedly replenishing his supply of ammunition, Pvt. Towle, motivated only by his high conception of duty which called for the destruction of the enemy at any cost, then rushed approximately 125 yards through grazing enemy fire to an exposed position from which he could engage the enemy half-track with his rocket launcher. While in a kneeling position preparatory to firing on the enemy vehicle, Pvt. Towle was mortally wounded by a mortar shell. By his heroic tenacity, at the price of his life, Pvt. Towle saved the lives of many of his comrades and was directly instrumental in breaking up the enemy counterattack.
We then find ourselves on the Korean peninsula and a Corporal who smothers a grenade for his buddies.
*DAVENPORT, JACK A.
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company G, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.). Place and date: Vicinity of Songnae-Dong, Korea, 21 September 1951. Entered service at: Mission, Kans. Born: 7 September 1931, Kansas City, Mo. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a squad leader in Company G, in action against enemy aggressor forces, early in the morning. While expertly directing the defense of his position during a probing attack by hostile forces attempting to infiltrate the area, Cpl. Davenport, acting quickly when an enemy grenade fell into the foxhole which he was occupying with another marine, skillfully located the deadly projectile in the dark and, undeterred by the personal risk involved, heroically threw himself over the live missile, thereby saving his companion from serious injury or possible death. His cool and resourceful leadership were contributing factors in the successful repulse of the enemy attack and his superb courage and admirable spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death enhance and sustain the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. Cpl. Davenport gallantly gave his life for his country.  
Now, near Con Thien in Vietnam, we find one hell of a Marine, who, after being rendered unable to fire his machinegun, falls on a grenade *and then* crawls over to administer first aid to another wounded Marine, continuing until he succumbed to his own wounds.  That's a tough young man.  Not that the young Cav trooper who earned the other Medal was any less so.
*BARKER, JEDH COLBY
Rank and organization: Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company F, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division (Rein), FMF. Place and date: Near Con Thien, Republic of Vietnam, 21 September 1967. Entered service at: Park Ridge, N.J. Born: 20 June 1945, Franklin, N.H. 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 Company F. During a reconnaissance operation L/Cpl. Barker's squad was suddenly hit by enemy sniper fire. The squad immediately deployed to a combat formation and advanced to a strongly fortified enemy position, when it was again struck by small arms and automatic weapons fire, sustaining numerous casualties. Although wounded by the initial burst of fire, L/Cpl. Barker boldly remained in the open, delivering a devastating volume of accurate fire on the numerically superior force. The enemy was intent upon annihilating the small marine force and, realizing that L/Cpl. Barker was a threat to their position, directed the preponderance of their fire on his position. He was again wounded, this time in the right hand, which prevented him from operating his vitally needed machine gun. Suddenly and without warning, an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the few surviving marines. Unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his personal safety, L/Cpl. Barker threw himself upon the deadly grenade, absorbing with his body the full and tremendous force of the explosion. In a final act of bravery, he crawled to the side of a wounded comrade and administered first aid before succumbing to his grievous wounds. His bold initiative, intrepid fighting spirit and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of almost certain death undoubtedly saved his comrades from further injury or possible death and reflected great credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country. *LAUFFER, BILLY LANE Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division. place and date: Near Bon Son in Binh Dinh province, Republic of Vietnam, 21 September 1966. Entered service at: phoenix, Ariz. Born: 20 October 1945, Murray, Ky. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Lauffer's squad, a part of Company C, was suddenly struck at close range by an intense machine gun crossfire from 2 concealed bunkers astride the squad's route. Pfc. Lauffer, the second man in the column, saw the lead man fall and noted that the remainder of the squad was unable to move. Two comrades, previously wounded and being carried on litters, were Lying helpless in the beaten zone of the enemy fire. Reacting instinctively, Pfc. Lauffer quickly engaged both bunkers with fire from his rifle, but when the other squad members attempted to maneuver under his covering fire, the enemy fusillade increased in volume and thwarted every attempt to move. Seeing this and his wounded comrades helpless in the open, Pfc. Lauffer rose to his feet and charged the enemy machine gun positions, firing his weapon and drawing the enemy's attention. Keeping the enemy confused and off balance, his 1-man assault provided the crucial moments for the wounded point man to crawl to a covered position, the squad to move the exposed litter patients to safety, and his comrades to gain more advantageous positions. Pfc. Lauffer was fatally wounded during his selfless act of courage and devotion to his fellow soldiers. His gallantry at the cost of his life served as an inspiration to his comrades and saved the lives of an untold number of his companions. His actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.   
*Asterisk indicates a posthumous award. (John Donovan is a Legionnaire with the Department of Kansas with service in the U.S. Army. He blogs at his own website The Castle Argghhh!)
Posted in Uncategorized, top stories | 0 comments
 
« Previous story
Next story »

 

* To comment without a Facebook account, please scroll to the bottom.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Have a tip for us? A link that should appear here? Contact us.
News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.