Today's Medal of Honor Moment for 20 October

 
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woodrow keebleMaster Sergeant Woodrow Keeble, Medal of Honor Recipient for Korea. Today is another one of those busy days for the Medal, where you can see the change over time of the criteria for the award.  In sharp relief in fact. There are 38 Medals awarded for actions on this day, 32 for one fight during the Indian Campaigns, and all the recipients survived to get their Medal. All the rest of the awards were posthumous. To be fair, the one for Master Sergeant Keeble was posthumous because it was awarded in 2008, well after he passed on to Fiddler’s Green in 1982. There are two Naval Medals from the "Interim Period, 1920-1940," two for World War II and one for Korea. And when you read the citations, you can see how the criteria has changed.   We open with the Indian Wars, and the biggest battle of those campaigns as far as the Medal is concerned.  32 of the 426 total awards are from this one fight against the Apaches in Arizona. As is typical with citations from prior to 1900, the Indian Campaign citations are sparse. They were based on this report from Captain Bernard: "These men are they who advanced with me up the steep and rocky mesa under as heavy a fire as I ever saw delivered from the number of men, Indians, say from one hundred to two hundred. These men advanced under this fire until within thirty steps from the Indians when they came to a ledge of rocks where every man who showed his head was shot at by several Indians at once. Here the men remained and did good shooting through the crevices of the rocks until ordered to fall back which was done by running from rock to rock where they would halt and return the fire of the Indians." That sounds like just about any fight in the Hindu Kush these days.  There is one Medal, to Lieutenant Hall, for a fight in Colorado a decade after the fight in Arizona. Two of the most-decorated companies of the Indian Campaigns, G Company, 1st Cavalry (number 2 over all) and G Company, 8th Cavalry (number 5 over all) earned all of their Medals in this one fight - 18 and 14 respectively.   
DICKENS, CHARLES H. Rank and organization: Corporal, Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. DONAHUE, JOHN L. Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Baltimore County, Md. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. ELWOOD, EDWIN L. Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: California. Birth: St. Louis, Mo. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. GEORGIAN, JOHN Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Bravery in action. HALL, WILLIAM P. Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, 5th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: Near Camp on White River, Colo., 20 October 1879. Entered service at: Huntsville, Mo. Birth: Randolph County, Mo. Date of issue: 18 September 1897. Citation: With a reconnoitering party of 3 men, was attacked by 35 Indians and several times exposed himself to draw the fire of the enemy, giving his small party opportunity to reply with much effect. HARDING, MOSHER A. Rank and organization: Blacksmith, Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at:------. Birth: Canada West. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. JARVIS, FREDERICK Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Essex County, N.Y. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. KEENAN, BARTHOLOMEW T. Rank and organization: Trumpeter, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Brooklyn, N.Y . Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. KELLEY, CHARLES Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. MEAHER, NICHOLAS Rank and organization: Corporal, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Perry County, Ohio. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. MURPHY, EDWARD Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth. Ireland. Date of issue: Unknown. Citation: Gallantry in action. OLIVER, FRANCIS Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Baltimore, Md. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Bravery in action. PENGALLY, EDWARD Rank and organization: Private, Company B, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: England. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. POWERS, THOMAS Rank and organization: Corporal, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: New York, N.Y. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. RUSSELL, JAMES Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: New York, N.Y. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action with Indians. SCHROETER, CHARLES Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. SCOTT, ROBERT B. Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Washington County, N.Y. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. SEWARD, GRIFFIN Rank and organization: Wagoner, Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1863. Entered service at:------. Birth: Dover, Del. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. SMITH, ANDREW J. Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: Baltimore, Md. Birth: Baltimore, Md. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. SMITH, THEODORE F. Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Rahway, N.J. Date of issue: 14 February 1879. Citation: Gallantry in action. SMITH, THOMAS Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth. Boston, Mass. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. SMITH, THOMAS J. Rank and organization. Private, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: England. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. SMITH, WILLIAM Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at. ------. Birth. Bath, Maine. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. SMITH, WILLIAM H. Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Lapeer County, Mich. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. SPENCE, ORIZOBA Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: Tionesta, Pa. Birth: Forest County, Pa. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation. Gallantry in action. SPRINGER, GEORGE Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at:------. Birth: York County, Pa. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. STEINER, CHRISTIAN Rank and organization: Saddler, Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. SULLIVAN, THOMAS Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Covington. Ky. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action against Indians concealed in a ravine. SUMNER, JAMES Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill., Birth: England. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action. THOMPSON, JOHN Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: New York, N.Y. Birth: Scotland. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Bravery in action with Indians. TRACY, JOHN Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: St. Paul, Minn. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Bravery in action with Indians. WARD, CHARLES H. Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: Philadelphia, Pa. Birth: England, Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action with Indians. WEISS, ENOCH R. Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., 20 October 1869. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Kosciusko County, Ind. Date of issue: 14 February 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action with Indians.  
Interim Awards, 1920-1940 - two sailors who died trying to save their fellow sailors and ship during a turret fire.  
*CHOLISTER, GEORGE ROBERT Rank and organization: Boatswain's Mate First Class, U.S. Navy. Born: 18 December 1898, Camden, N.J. Accredited to: New Jersey. (Awarded by Special Act of Congress 3 February 1933.) Citation: For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession on the occasion of a fire on board the U S.S. Trenton. At 3:35 on the afternoon of 20 October 1924, while the Trenton was preparing to fire trial installation shots from the two 6-inch guns in the forward twin mount of that vessel, 2 charges of powder ignited. Twenty men were trapped in the twin mount. Four died almost immediately and 10 later from burns and inhalation of flames and gases. The 6 others were severely injured. Cholister, without thought of his own safety, on seeing that the charge of powder from the left gun was ignited, jumped for the right charge and endeavored to put it in the immersion tank. The left charge burst into flame and ignited the right charge before Cholister could accomplish his purpose. He fell unconscious while making a supreme effort to save his shipmates and died the following day. *DREXLER, HENRY CLAY Rank and organization: Ensign, U.S. Navy. Born: 7 August 1901, Braddock, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. (Awarded by Special Act of Congress, 3 February 1933.) Other Navy award: Navy Cross. Citation: For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession on the occasion of a fire on board the U.S.S. Trenton. At 3:35 on the afternoon of 20 October 1924, while the Trenton was preparing to fire trial installation shots from the two 6-inch guns in the forward twin mount of that vessel, 2 charges of powder ignited. Twenty men were trapped in the twin mount. Four died almost immediately and 10 later from burns and inhalation of flame and gases. The 6 others were severely injured. Ens. Drexler, without thought of his own safety, on seeing that the charge of powder for the left gun was ignited, jumped for the right charge and endeavored to put it in the immersion tank. The left charge burst into flame and ignited the right charge before Ens. Drexler could accomplish his purpose. He met his death while making a supreme effort to save his shipmates.  
WWII, and two examples of tough small unit leaders.  
*KURODA, ROBERT T. Staff Sergeant Robert T. Kuroda distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action, on 20 October 1944, near Bruyeres, France. Leading his men in an advance to destroy snipers and machine gun nests, Staff Sergeant Kuroda encountered heavy fire from enemy soldiers occupying a heavily wooded slope. Unable to pinpoint the hostile machine gun, he boldly made his way through heavy fire to the crest of the ridge. Once he located the machine gun, Staff Sergeant Kuroda advanced to a point within ten yards of the nest and killed three enemy gunners with grenades. He then fired clip after clip of rifle ammunition, killing or wounding at least three of the enemy. As he expended the last of his ammunition, he observed that an American officer had been struck by a burst of fire from a hostile machine gun located on an adjacent hill. Rushing to the officer's assistance, he found that the officer had been killed. Picking up the officer's submachine gun, Staff Sergeant Kuroda advanced through continuous fire toward a second machine gun emplacement and destroyed the position. As he turned to fire upon additional enemy soldiers, he was killed by a sniper. Staff Sergeant Kuroda's courageous actions and indomitable fighting spirit ensured the destruction of enemy resistance in the sector. Staff Sergeant Kuroda's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army. *WAI, FRANCIS B. Captain Francis B. Wai distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action, on 20 October 1944, in Leyte, Philippine Islands. Captain Wai landed at Red Beach, Leyte, in the face of accurate, concentrated enemy fire from gun positions advantageously located in a palm grove bounded by submerged rice paddies. Finding the first four waves of American soldiers leaderless, disorganized, and pinned down on the open beach, he immediately assumed command. Issuing clear and concise orders, and disregarding heavy enemy machine gun and rifle fire, he began to move inland through the rice paddies without cover. The men, inspired by his cool demeanor and heroic example, rose from their positions and followed him. During the advance, Captain Wai repeatedly determined the locations of enemy strong points by deliberately exposing himself to draw their fire. In leading an assault upon the last remaining Japanese pillbox in the area, he was killed by its occupants. Captain Wai's courageous, aggressive leadership inspired the men, even after his death, to advance and destroy the enemy. His intrepid and determined efforts were largely responsible for the rapidity with which the initial beachhead was secured. Captain Wai's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.  
Korea – And a Native American National Guardsman who may have been a victim of the prejudicial attitude of the awards process during WWI – Korea. Master Sergeant Woodrow Wilson Keeble was a U.S. Army National Guard veteran of both World War II (Guadalcanal) and the Korean War. He was a full-blooded Sioux, and a stout warrior in the finest traditions of the tribe. Following a long campaign waged by his family and the congressional delegations of both North and South Dakota, in 2008 President George W. Bush posthumously awarded MSG Keeble the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Korean War. Keeble had previously been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with V device for Valor, the Bronze Star for merit, and the Combat Infantryman Badge (first and second awards).  
*KEEBLE, WOODROW W. Rank and Organization:Master Sergeant, U.S. Army. Place and date: Korea, 20 October 1951. Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Sangsan-ni, Korea, on October 20, 1951. On that day, Master Sergeant Keeble was an acting platoon leader for the support platoon in Company G, 19th Infantry, in the attack on Hill 765, a steep and rugged position that was well defended by the enemy. Leading the support platoon, Master Sergeant Keeble saw that the attacking elements had become pinned down on the slope by heavy enemy fire from three well-fortified and strategically placed enemy positions. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Master Sergeant Keeble dashed forward and joined the pinned-down platoon. Then, hugging the ground, Master Sergeant Keeble crawled forward alone until he was in close proximity to one of the hostile machine-gun emplacements. Ignoring the heavy fire that the crew trained on him, Master Sergeant Keeble activated a grenade and threw it with great accuracy, successfully destroying the position. Continuing his one-man assault, he moved to the second enemy position and destroyed it with another grenade. Despite the fact that the enemy troops were now directing their firepower against him and unleashing a shower of grenades in a frantic attempt to stop his advance, he moved forward against the third hostile emplacement, and skillfully neutralized the remaining enemy position. As his comrades moved forward to join him, Master Sergeant Keeble continued to direct accurate fire against nearby trenches, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. Inspired by his courage, Company G successfully moved forward and seized its important objective. The extraordinary courage, selfless service, and devotion to duty displayed that day by Master Sergeant Keeble was an inspiration to all around him and reflected great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.  
*Asterisk indicates a posthumous award (though in the case of MSG Keeble it was due to the delay in the award, not death in action). (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!)
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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.