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Today's Medal of Honor Moment for 15 December

There are five Medals awarded for actions this day, from four eras, and only one is posthumous.

Civil War - a Gunner who stood to his piece.

CHURCHILL, SAMUEL J.

Rank and organization: Corporal, Company G, 2d Illinois Light Artillery. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 15 December 1864. Entered service at: DeKalb County, Ill. Birth: Rutland County, Vt. Date of issue: 20 January 1897. Citation: When the fire of the enemy's batteries compelled the men of his detachment for a short time to seek shelter, he stood manfully at his post and for some minutes worked his gun alone.

Interim Awards, 1871-1898.  A naval lifesaving Medal.  Today this would be awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the highest award for peacetime bravery.

SAPP, ISACC

Rank and organization: Seaman, Engineer's Force, U.S. Navy. Born: 1844, Philadelphia, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 169, 8 February 1872. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Shenandoah during the rescue of a shipmate at Villefranche, 15 December 1871. Jumping overboard, Sapp gallantly assisted in saving Charles Prince, seaman, from drowning.


WWII on Leyte in the Philippines.  Aside from having a cool name, Private Vlug shows that good infantry can stand up to tanks - especially tanks as badly handled as these Japanese tanks were handled.  That the tank crew chose to dismount to attack PFC Vlug is a possible indicator of one of the big weak points of japanese tanks - no flexible machine gun for the commander to use for close in defense.  But I digress.

*JOHNSON, LEROY

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company K, 126th Infantry, 32d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Limon, Leyte, Philippine Islands, 15 December 1944. Entered service at: Oakdale, La. Birth: Caney Creek, La. G.O. No.: 83, 2 October 1945. Citation: He was squad leader of a 9-man patrol sent to reconnoiter a ridge held by a well-entrenched enemy force. Seeing an enemy machinegun position, he ordered his men to remain behind while he crawled to within 6 yards of the gun. One of the enemy crew jumped up and prepared to man the weapon. Quickly withdrawing, Sgt. Johnson rejoined his patrol and reported the situation to his commanding officer. Ordered to destroy the gun, which covered the approaches to several other enemy positions, he chose 3 other men, armed them with hand grenades, and led them to a point near the objective. After taking partial cover behind a log, the men had knocked out the gun and begun an assault when hostile troops on the flank hurled several grenades. As he started for cover, Sgt. Johnson saw 2 unexploded grenades which had fallen near his men. Knowing that his comrades would be wounded or killed by the explosion, he deliberately threw himself on the grenades and received their full charge in his body. Fatally wounded by the blast, he died soon afterward. Through his outstanding gallantry in sacrificing his life for his comrades, Sgt. Johnson provided a shining example of the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.

VLUG, DIRK J.

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, 126th Infantry, 32d Infantry Division. Place and date. Near Limon, Leyte, Philippine Islands, 15 December 1944. Entered service at: Grand Rapids, Mich. Birth: Maple Lake, Minn. G.O. No.: 60, 26 June 1946. Citation: He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty when an American roadblock on the Ormoc Road was attacked by a group of enemy tanks. He left his covered position, and with a rocket launcher and 6 rounds of ammunition, advanced alone under intense machinegun and 37-mm. fire. Loading single-handedly, he destroyed the first tank, killing its occupants with a single round. As the crew of the second tank started to dismount and attack him, he killed 1 of the foe with his pistol, forcing the survivors to return to their vehicle, which he then destroyed with a second round. Three more hostile tanks moved up the road, so he flanked the first and eliminated it, and then, despite a hail of enemy fire, pressed forward again to destroy another. With his last round of ammunition he struck the remaining vehicle, causing it to crash down a steep embankment. Through his sustained heroism in the face of superior forces, Pfc. Vlug alone destroyed 5 enemy tanks and greatly facilitated successful accomplishment of his battalion's mission.

Vietnam.  A Sergeant who would leave no man behind.

LYNCH, ALLEN JAMES

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company D, 1st Battalion (Airmobile), 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). place and date: Near My An (2), Binh Dinh province, Republic of Vietnam, 15 December 1967. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Born: 28 October 1945, Chicago, Ill. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Lynch (then Sp4c.) distinguished himself while serving as a radio telephone operator with Company D. While serving in the forward element on an operation near the village of My An, his unit became heavily engaged with a numerically superior enemy force. Quickly and accurately assessing the situation, Sgt. Lynch provided his commander with information which subsequently proved essential to the unit's successful actions. Observing 3 wounded comrades Lying exposed to enemy fire, Sgt. Lynch dashed across 50 meters of open ground through a withering hail of enemy fire to administer aid. Reconnoitering a nearby trench for a covered position to protect the wounded from intense hostile fire, he killed 2 enemy soldiers at point blank range. With the trench cleared, he unhesitatingly returned to the fire-swept area 3 times to carry the wounded men to safety. When his company was forced to withdraw by the superior firepower of the enemy, Sgt. Lynch remained to aid his comrades at the risk of his life rather than abandon them. Alone, he defended his isolated position for 2 hours against the advancing enemy. Using only his rifle and a grenade, he stopped them just short of his trench, killing 5. Again, disregarding his safety in the face of withering hostile fire, he crossed 70 meters of exposed terrain 5 times to carry his wounded comrades to a more secure area. Once he had assured their comfort and safety, Sgt. Lynch located the counterattacking friendly company to assist in directing the attack and evacuating the 3 casualties. His gallantry at the risk of his life is in the highest traditions of the military service, Sgt. Lynch has reflected great credit on himself, the 12th Cavalry, and the U.S. Army.

*Asterisk indicates posthumous award.