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Today's Medal of Honor Moment for 21 August

The first Medals awarded for actions on this day are a continuation of the fighting around Weldon Railroad, in Virginia in 1864, as Grant tightens the noose on the Army of Northern Virginia.


ANDERSON, FREDERICK C.

Rank and organization: Private, Company A, 18th Massachusetts Infantry. Place and date: At Weldon Railroad, Va., 21 August 1864. Entered service at:------Birth: Boston, Mass. Date of issue: 6 September 1864. Citation: Capture of battle flag of 27th South Carolina (C.S.A.) and the color bearer.

ELLIS, HORACE

Rank and organization: Private, Company A, 7th Wisconsin Infantry. Place and date: At Weldon Railroad, Va., 21 August 1864. Entered service at: Chippewa Falls, Wis. Birth: Mercer County, Pa. Date of issue: December 1864. Citation: Capture of flag of 16th Mississippi (C.S.A.).

REED, GEORGE W.

Rank and organization: Private, Company E, 11th Pennsylvania Infantry. Place and date: At Weldon Railroad, Va., 21 August 1864. Entered service at: Johnstown, Pa. Birth: Cambria County, Pa. Dale of issue: 6 September 1864. Citation: Capture of flag of 24th North Carolina Volunteers (C.S.A.).

SHILLING, JOHN

Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company H, 3d Delaware Infantry. Place and date: At Weldon Railroad, Va., 21 August 1864. Entered service at: Felton, Del. Born: 15 February 1832, England. Date of issue: 6 September 1864. Citation: Capture of flag.

SMITH, RICHARD

Rank and organization: Private, Company B, 95th New York Infantry. Place and date: At Weldon Railroad, Va., 21 August 1864. Entered service at: Harverstraw, Rockland County, N.Y. Birth: Harverstraw, Rockland County, N.Y. Date of issue: 13 March 1865. Citation: Captured 2 officers and 20 men of Hagood's brigade while they were endeavoring to make their way back through the woods.
 

The Medal next shows up during the Interim Awards, 1871-1898.  Most of the Medals awarded during this era were Navy awards, for doing Brave Things as a part of the Black Gang of Engineering (not a racial thing in this overly-sensitive time - they were called that because of the coal dust) saving the ship or shipmates from bursting boilers, or deck monkeys jumping in the water and rescuing drowning visitors and fellow sailors.  Today these men would be awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the sea services' highest award for valor not involving combat.  Back in the day, however, the Medal of Honor was the only option.


HARRINGTON, DAVID

Rank and organization: First Class Fireman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1856, Washington, D.C. Accredited to: Washington, D.C. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Tallapoosa at the time of the sinking of that vessel, on the night of 21 August 1884. Remaining at his post of duty in the fireroom until the fires were put out by the rising waters, Harrington opened the safety valves when the water was up to his waist.

MAGEE, JOHN W.

Rank and organization: Second Class Fireman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1859, Maryland. Accredited to: Maryland. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Tallapoosa during the sinking of that vessel on the night of 21 August 1884. During this period, Magee remained at his post of duty in the fireroom until the fires were put out by the rising waters.

OHMSEN, AUGUST

Rank and organization: Master-at-Arms, U.S. Navy. Born: 1853, Germany. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Tallapoosa at the time of the sinking of that vessel, on the night of 21 August 1884. Clearing the berth deck, Ohmsen remained there until the water was waist deep, wading about with outstretched arms, rousing the men out of their hammocks. Then, going on deck, he assisted in lowering the first cutter and then the dinghy, of which he took charge.

OSBORNE, JOHN

Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1844, New Orleans, La. Accredited to: Louisiana. G.O. No.: 218, 24 August 1876. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Juniata, Osborne displayed gallant conduct in rescuing from drowning an enlisted boy of that vessel, at Philadelphia, Pa., 21 August 1876.

The Medal makes its next appearance during WWI... in Italy - a place most of us don't associate with US involvement in WWI.


HAMMANN, CHARLES HAZELTINE

Rank and organization: Ensign, U.S. Naval Reserve Fleet. Born: 16 March 1892, Baltimore, Md. Appointed from: Maryland. Citation: For extraordinary heroism as a pilot of a seaplane on 21 August 1918, when with 3 other planes Ens. Hammann took part in a patrol and attacked a superior force of enemy land planes. In the course of the engagement which followed the plane of Ens. George M. Ludlow was shot down and fell in the water 5 miles off Pola. Ens. Hammann immediately dived down and landed on the water close alongside the disabled machine, where he took Ludlow on board. Although his machine was not designed for the double load to which it was subjected, and although there was danger of attack by Austrian planes, he made his way to Porto Corsini.

The Medal next surfaces in Vietnam, as a Sergeant shows his soldiers how to die - so that they may live.

 

*YOUNG, MARVIN R.

Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company C, 1st Battalion, (Mechanized), 5th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Ben Cui, Republic of Vietnam, 21 August 1968. Entered service at: Odessa, Tex. Born: 11 May 1947, Alpine, Tex. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Young distinguished himself at the cost of his life while serving as a squad leader with Company C. While conducting a reconnaissance mission in the vicinity of Ben Cui, Company C was suddenly engaged by an estimated regimental-size force of the North Vietnamese Army. During the initial volley of fire the point element of the 1st Platoon was pinned down, sustaining several casualties, and the acting platoon leader was killed. S/Sgt. Young unhesitatingly assumed command of the platoon and immediately began to organize and deploy his men into a defensive position in order to repel the attacking force. As a human wave attack advanced on S/Sgt. Young's platoon, he moved from position to position, encouraging and directing fire on the hostile insurgents while exposing himself to the hail of enemy bullets. After receiving orders to withdraw to a better defensive position, he remained behind to provide covering fire for the withdrawal. Observing that a small element of the point squad was unable to extract itself from its position, and completely disregarding his personal safety, S/Sgt. Young began moving toward their position, firing as he maneuvered. When halfway to their position he sustained a critical head injury, yet he continued his mission and ordered the element to withdraw. Remaining with the squad as it fought its way to the rear, he was twice seriously wounded in the arm and leg. Although his leg was badly shattered, S/Sgt. Young refused assistance that would have slowed the retreat of his comrades, and he ordered them to continue their withdrawal while he provided protective covering fire. With indomitable courage and heroic self-sacrifice, he continued his self-assigned mission until the enemy force engulfed his position. By his gallantry at the cost of his life are in the highest traditions of the military service, S/Sgt. Young has reflected great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.


 

 

*Indicates a posthumous award.