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Today's Medal of Honor Moment for 26 August

The first Medal awarded for actions on this day in history came during the Indian Campaigns, at Seneca Mountain, Arizona, in 1869.  There are several Medals on several days during this period for the fighting going on at this time.

STANLEY, EDWARD

Rank and organization: Corporal, Company F, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Seneca Mountain, Ariz., 26 August 1869. Entered service at:------. Birth: New York, N.Y. Date of issue: 3 March 1870. Citation: Gallantry in action.

We next see the Medal during the "Interim Period, 1871-1898" and they are both Naval Medals for saving a life, which most of the Medals during this period are for.  Today, this Medal would be a Navy and Marine Corps Medal, which is the highest award for gallantry not involving combat.


THORNTON, MICHAEL

Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1856, Ireland. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. Citation: For jumping overboard from the U.S. Tug Leyden, near Boston, Mass., 26 August 1881, and sustaining until picked up, Michael Drennan, landsman, who had jumped overboard while temporarily insane.

WEISSEL, ADAM

Rank and organization: Ship's Cook, U.S. Navy. Born: 1854, Germany. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. Citation: For jumping overboard from the U.S. Training Ship Minnesota, at Newport, R.l., 26 August 1881, and sustaining until picked up by a boat from the ship, C. Lorenze, captain of the forecastle, who had fallen overboard.

The Medal lays low through the Span-Am War, the banana wars, WWI and II and resurfaces again during the dark early days of the Korean War.
*HANDRICH, MELVIN O.

Rank and organization: Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company C, 5th Infantry Regiment. Place and date: Near Sobuk San Mountain, Korea, 25 and 26 August 1950. Entered service at: Manawa, Wis. Born: 26 January 1919, Manawa, Wis. G.O. No.: 60, 2 August 1951. Citation: M/Sgt. Handrich, Company C, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action. His company was engaged in repulsing an estimated 150 enemy who were threatening to overrun its position. Near midnight on 25 August, a hostile group over 100 strong attempted to infiltrate the company perimeter. M/Sgt. Handrich, despite the heavy enemy fire, voluntarily left the comparative safety of the defensive area and moved to a forward position where he could direct mortar and artillery fire upon the advancing enemy. He remained at this post for 8 hours directing fire against the enemy who often approached to within 50 feet of his position. Again, on the morning of 26 August, another strong hostile force made an attempt to overrun the company's position. With complete disregard for his safety, M/Sgt. Handrich rose to his feet and from this exposed position fired his rifle and directed mortar and artillery fire on the attackers. At the peak of this action he observed elements of his company preparing to withdraw. He perilously made his way across fire-swept terrain to the defense area where, by example and forceful leadership, he reorganized the men to continue the fight. During the action M/Sgt. Handrich was severely wounded. Refusing to take cover or be evacuated, he returned to his forward position and continued to direct the company's fire. Later a determined enemy attack overran M/Sgt. Handrich's position and he was mortally wounded. When the position was retaken, over 70 enemy dead were counted in the area he had so intrepidly defended. M/Sgt. Handrich's sustained personal bravery, consummate courage, and gallant self-sacrifice reflect untold glory upon himself and the heroic traditions of the military service.
 


We next see the Medal during Vietnam, during the very hot combat year of 1968, including Air Force legend Bud Day, the archetype of the unyielding POW.

BACON, NICKY DANIEL

Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company B, 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. Place and date: West of Tam Ky, Republic of Vietnam, 26 August 1968. Entered service at: Phoenix, Ariz. Born: 25 November 1945, Caraway, Ark. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Bacon distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader with the 1st Platoon, Company B, during an operation west of Tam Ky. When Company B came under fire from an enemy bunker line to the front, S/Sgt. Bacon quickly organized his men and led them forward in an assault. He advanced on a hostile bunker and destroyed it with grenades. As he did so, several fellow soldiers including the 1st Platoon leader, were struck by machine gun fire and fell wounded in an exposed position forward of the rest of the platoon. S/Sgt. Bacon immediately assumed command of the platoon and assaulted the hostile gun position, finally killing the enemy gun crew in a single-handed effort. When the 3d Platoon moved to S/Sgt. Bacon's location, its leader was also wounded. Without hesitation S/Sgt. Bacon took charge of the additional platoon and continued the fight. In the ensuing action he personally killed 4 more enemy soldiers and silenced an antitank weapon. Under his leadership and example, the members of both platoons accepted his authority without question. Continuing to ignore the intense hostile fire, he climbed up on the exposed deck of a tank and directed fire into the enemy position while several wounded men were evacuated. As a result of S/Sgt. Bacon's extraordinary efforts, his company was able to move forward, eliminate the enemy positions, and rescue the men trapped to the front. S/Sgt. Bacon's bravery at the risk of his life was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.


DAY, GEORGE E.

Rank and organization: Colonel (then Major), U.S. Air Force, Forward Air Controller Pilot of an F-100 aircraft. Place and date: North Vietnam, 26 August 1967. Entered service at: Sioux City, Iowa. Born: 24 February 1925, Sioux City, Iowa. Citation: On 26 August 1967, Col. Day was forced to eject from his aircraft over North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire. His right arm was broken in 3 places, and his left knee was badly sprained. He was immediately captured by hostile forces and taken to a prison camp where he was interrogated and severely tortured. After causing the guards to relax their vigilance, Col. Day escaped into the jungle and began the trek toward South Vietnam. Despite injuries inflicted by fragments of a bomb or rocket, he continued southward surviving only on a few berries and uncooked frogs. He successfully evaded enemy patrols and reached the Ben Hai River, where he encountered U.S. artillery barrages. With the aid of a bamboo log float, Col. Day swam across the river and entered the demilitarized zone. Due to delirium, he lost his sense of direction and wandered aimlessly for several days. After several unsuccessful attempts to signal U.S. aircraft, he was ambushed and recaptured by the Viet Cong, sustaining gunshot wounds to his left hand and thigh. He was returned to the prison from which he had escaped and later was moved to Hanoi after giving his captors false information to questions put before him. Physically, Col. Day was totally debilitated and unable to perform even the simplest task for himself. Despite his many injuries, he continued to offer maximum resistance. His personal bravery in the face of deadly enemy pressure was significant in saving the lives of fellow aviators who were still flying against the enemy. Col. Day's conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.
*Indicates a posthumous award.