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Today's Medal of Honor Moment for 8 March

There are two Medals awarded for actions on this day, one posthumous.

Philippine Insurrection

Rank and organization: Ordinary Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 24 May 1886, Austria. Accredited to: Iowa. G.O. No.: 19, 1 May 1906. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Pampanga, Mount Dajo Jolo, Philippine Islands, 8 March 1906. Serving in the presence of the enemy on this date, Fitz displayed bravery and extraordinary heroism.
World War II.  Sometimes, there is no justice in the cosmos.

Citation: For extraordinary heroism in action on 8 March 1943. Private Watson was on board a ship which was attacked and hit by enemy bombers. When the ship was abandoned, Private Watson, instead of seeking to save himself, remained in the water assisting several soldiers who could not swim to reach the safety of the raft. This heroic action, which subsequently cost him his life, resulted in the saving of several of his comrades. Weakened by his exertions, he was dragged down by the suction of the sinking ship and was drowned. Private Watson's extraordinarily valorous actions, daring leadership, and self-sacrificing devotion to his fellow-man exemplify the finest traditions of military service.

*Asterisk indicates posthumous award.


The citation for Private Watson sounded hinky to me -- no information about the ship, the location, his unit, even his branch of the Service.  So I did a bit of research.  It turns out that Private Watson was attached to 2nd Battalion, 29th Quartermaster Regiment, United States Army.  He was a passenger on the ship in question, which was a Dutch ship commandeered by the Army to transport supplies.  It was hit by Japanese bombers and disabled off the New Guinea coast.   Private Watson's actions during the sinking are as described.

Oh, one more point.  Private Watson was originally awarded a D.S.C.  It was upgraded to a Medal of Honor on January 13th, 1997.  Fifty-five years after the event.  Private Watson was one of seven black men so honored in that ceremony.