previous post next post  

Today's Medal of Honor Moment for 1 December

5 awards of the Medal on this day in our history - with the modern era being particularly brutal, as all three those awards are posthumous.

Civil War.  Ya just can't keep a horse soldier down, even if you shot his horse.

SOWERS, MICHAEL

Rank and organization: Private, Company L, 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Place and date: At Stony Creek Station, Va., 1 December 1864. Entered service at: Allegheny County, Pa. Born: 14 September 1844, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pa. Date of issue: 16 February 1897. Citation: His horse having been shot from under him he voluntarily and on foot participated in the cavalry charge made upon one of the forts, conducting himself throughout with great personal bravery.
 

Interim Awards, 1871-1898.  Until the establishment of the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for peacetime heroism, the Navy was authorized to award the Medal of Honor for acts not involving armed conflict - reflecting the realities of the dangers of going down to the sea in ships.

DENEEF, MICHAEL

Rank and organization: Captain of the Top, U.S. Navy. Born: 1851, Massachusetts. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 201, 18 January 1876. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Swatara at Para, Brazil, 1 December 1875. Displaying gallant conduct, Deneef jumped overboard and rescued one of the crew of that vessel from drowning.

Korea, and those dark, violent days of 1950, and the fighting at the Chosin Reservoir.  While rightfully a legendary Marine Corps fight, the Army was fighting there, too.

*FAITH, DON C., JR.

Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Place and date: Vicinity Hagaru-ri, Northern Korea, 27 November to 1 December 1950. Entered service at: Washington, Ind. Born: 26 August 1918, Washington, Ind. G.O. No.: 59, 2 August 1951. Citation: Lt. Col. Faith, commanding 1st Battalion, distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty in the area of the Chosin Reservoir. When the enemy launched a fanatical attack against his battalion, Lt. Col. Faith unhesitatingly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire as he moved about directing the action. When the enemy penetrated the positions, Lt. Col. Faith personally led counterattacks to restore the position. During an attack by his battalion to effect a junction with another U.S. unit, Lt. Col. Faith reconnoitered the route for, and personally directed, the first elements of his command across the ice-covered reservoir and then directed the movement of his vehicles which were loaded with wounded until all of his command had passed through the enemy fire. Having completed this he crossed the reservoir himself. Assuming command of the force his unit had joined he was given the mission of attacking to join friendly elements to the south. Lt. Col. Faith, although physically exhausted in the bitter cold, organized and launched an attack which was soon stopped by enemy fire. He ran forward under enemy small-arms and automatic weapons fire, got his men on their feet and personally led the fire attack as it blasted its way through the enemy ring. As they came to a hairpin curve, enemy fire from a roadblock again pinned the column down. Lt. Col. Faith organized a group of men and directed their attack on the enemy positions on the right flank. He then placed himself at the head of another group of men and in the face of direct enemy fire led an attack on the enemy roadblock, firing his pistol and throwing grenades. When he had reached a position approximately 30 yards from the roadblock he was mortally wounded, but continued to direct the attack until the roadblock was overrun. Throughout the 5 days of action Lt. Col. Faith gave no thought to his safety and did not spare himself. His presence each time in the position of greatest danger was an inspiration to his men. Also, the damage he personally inflicted firing from his position at the head of his men was of material assistance on several occasions. Lt. Col. Faith's outstanding gallantry and noble self-sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty reflect the highest honor on him and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army. (This award supersedes the prior award of the Silver Star (First Oak Leaf Cluster) as announced in G.O. No. 32, Headquarters X Corps, dated 23 February 1951, for gallantry in action on 27 November 1950.)

*WINDRICH, WILLIAM G.

Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, Company I, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.). Place and date: Vicinity of Yudam-ni, Korea, 1 December 1950. Entered service at: Hammond, Ind. Born: 14 May 1921, Chicago, Ill. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a platoon sergeant of Company I, in action against enemy aggressor forces the night of 1 December 1950. Promptly organizing a squad of men when the enemy launched a sudden, vicious counterattack against the forward elements of his company's position, rendering it untenable, S/Sgt. Windrich, armed with a carbine, spearheaded the assault to the top of the knoll immediately confronting the overwhelming forces and, under shattering hostile automatic-weapons, mortar, and grenade fire, directed effective fire to hold back the attackers and cover the withdrawal of our troops to commanding ground. With 7 of his men struck down during the furious action and himself wounded in the head by a bursting grenade, he made his way to his company's position and, organizing a small group of volunteers, returned with them to evacuate the wounded and dying from the frozen hillside, staunchly refusing medical attention himself. Immediately redeploying the remainder of his troops, S/Sgt. Windrich placed them on the left flank of the defensive sector before the enemy again attacked in force. Wounded in the leg during the bitter fight that followed, he bravely fought on with his men, shouting words of encouragement and directing their fire until the attack was repelled. Refusing evacuation although unable to stand, he still continued to direct his platoon in setting up defensive positions until weakened by the bitter cold, excessive loss of blood, and severe pain, he lapsed into unconsciousness and died. His valiant leadership, fortitude, and courageous fighting spirit against tremendous odds served to inspire others to heroic endeavor in holding the objective and reflect the highest credit upon S/Sgt. Windrich and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Vietnam.  Fix bayonet and close with the enemy.  Patton would have been proud of PFC Albanese.

*ALBANESE, LEWIS

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company B, 5th Battalion (Airmobile), 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 1 December 1966. Entered service at: Seattle, Wash. Born: 27 April 1946, Venice, Italy. G.O. No.: 12, 3 April 1968. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Albanese's platoon, while advancing through densely covered terrain to establish a blocking position, received intense automatic weapons fire from close range. As other members maneuvered to assault the enemy position, Pfc. Albanese was ordered to provide security for the left flank of the platoon. Suddenly, the left flank received fire from enemy located in a well-concealed ditch. Realizing the imminent danger to his comrades from this fire, Pfc. Albanese fixed his bayonet and moved aggressively into the ditch. His action silenced the sniper fire, enabling the platoon to resume movement toward the main enemy position. As the platoon continued to advance, the sound of heavy firing emanated from the left flank from a pitched battle that ensued in the ditch which Pfc. Albanese had entered. The ditch was actually a well-organized complex of enemy defenses designed to bring devastating flanking fire on the forces attacking the main position. Pfc. Albanese, disregarding the danger to himself, advanced 100 meters along the trench and killed 6 of the snipers, who were armed with automatic weapons. Having exhausted his ammunition, Pfc. Albanese was mortally wounded when he engaged and killed 2 more enemy soldiers in fierce hand-to-hand combat. His unparalleled actions saved the lives of many members of his platoon who otherwise would have fallen to the sniper fire from the ditch, and enabled his platoon to successfully advance against an enemy force of overwhelming numerical superiority. Pfc. Albanese's extraordinary heroism and supreme dedication to his comrades were commensurate with the finest traditions of the military service and remain a tribute to himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
*Asterisk indicates posthumous award.