Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Douglas A. Munro, a signalman first class of the United States Coast Guard, died heroically on Guadalcanal September 27, 1942, after succeeding in his assignment, for which he had volunteered, to evacuate a detachment of Marines from a point where enemy opposition developed beyond anticipated dimensions. Munro's final words were "Did they get off?"
Douglas Albert Munro was born in Vancouver, Canada, of American parents, on October 11, 1919, but spent his entire life previous to his enlistment in South Cle Elum, Washington. His parents are Mr. and Mrs. James Munro of South Cle Elum. Douglas Munro was educated at the South Cle Elum Grade School and was graduated from the Cle Elum High School in 1937. He attended the Central Washington College of Education for a year and left to enlist in the United States Coast Guard in 1939. He had an outstanding record as an enlisted man and was promoted rapidly through the various ratings to a signalman, first class.
In the action [where he was killed in action], Munro had already played an important part, since he was in charge of the original detachment of ten boats that had landed the Marines at the scene. He had successfully got them ashore and then had headed his boats back to a previously assigned position. Almost immediately upon his return, he was advised by the officer in charge that conditions had been different than had been anticipated and that it was necessary to evacuate the men immediately. Munro volunteered for the job of heading the boats for the evacuation. In charge of the rescue expedition, he brought the boats in-shore under heavy enemy fire and proceeded to evacuate the men on the beach. When most of them were in the boats, complications arose in evacuating the last men, whom Munro realized would be in the greatest danger. He accordingly so placed himself and his boats that they would serve as cover for the last men to leave. It was thus that he was fatally wounded -- protecting the men after he had evacuated them. He remained conscious sufficiently long only to say four words: "Did they get off?" He died, therefore, with the realization that his mission had succeeded and his final assignment had been carried out.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Munro was also awarded, posthumously, the Purple Heart Medal, and was eligible for the American Defense Service Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
Medal of Honor Citation
Rank and organization: Signalman First Class, U.S. Coast Guard Born: 11 October 1919, Vancouver, British Columbia. Accredited to Washington. Citation: For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry m action above and beyond the call of duty as Petty Officer in Charge of a group of 24 Higgins boats, engaged in the evacuation of a battalion of marines trapped by enemy Japanese forces at Point Cruz Guadalcanal, on 27 September 1942. After making preliminary plans for the evacuation of nearly 500 beleaguered marines, Munro, under constant strafing by enemy machineguns on the island, and at great risk of his life, daringly led 5 of his small craft toward the shore. As he closed the beach, he signaled the others to land, and then in order to draw the enemy's fire and protect the heavily loaded boats, he valiantly placed his craft with its 2 small guns as a shield between the beachhead and the Japanese. When the perilous task of evacuation was nearly completed, Munro was instantly killed by enemy fire, but his crew, 2 of whom were wounded, carried on until the last boat had loaded and cleared the beach. By his outstanding leadership, expert planning, and dauntless devotion to duty, he and his courageous comrades undoubtedly saved the lives of many who otherwise would have perished. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Major Charles Leroy Thomas (April 17, 1920-February 15, 1980) was a United States Army officer who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions while a company commander during the capture of Climbach, France in 1944 — the second African American to be awarded one during World War II. This award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor and awarded posthumously in 1997.
Prior to the war he had worked as a molder for the Ford Motor Company, and was a student at Wayne State University when he joined the Army in January 1942. He was assigned to the 614th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and sent to Officer Candidate School; he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 1943 and returned to his battalion, deploying with it to England and then to North-Western Europe.
On December 14, 1944, Thomas led a task force storming Climbach, consisting of a platoon from the 756th Tank Battalion and a reinforced company of the 411th Infantry Regiment, 103rd Infantry Division, led by a platoon of his tank destroyers. Approaching Climbach, Thomas' armored scout car was knocked out by enemy fire and he was wounded.
The lieutenant helped his crew out of the vehicle, but as he left the car's protection, he was again wounded in the chest, legs and arms. Despite his wounds, Thomas directed the dispersal and emplacement of the anti-tank guns, which then returned fire and covered the attempt by the rest of the task force to outflank the defenders. He briefed one of his platoon leaders, a junior lieutenant, on the general situation, and only when he was sure the situation was under control did he allow himself to be evacuated. The platoon continued to fight for four hours, losing two of its four guns and half its men as casualties (3 dead, 17 wounded).
The strong performance of the platoon ensured the capture of the town and forced the defenders to withdraw to the Siegfried Line; the unit was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation (the first black combat unit, and the first unit attached to the 103rd Division, to be so honored) and its men received four Silver Stars and nine Bronze Stars. Thomas himself was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his part in the engagement, and returned home a hero, though he played down his role - "I know I was sent out to locate and draw the enemy fire, but I didn't mean to draw that much."
Thomas remained in the Army, and retired with the rank of Major. In the 1990s, following a study which indicated severe racial discrimination in the process of awarding medals during the war, it was recommended that seven Distinguished Service Crosses be upgraded to Medals of Honor, and Thomas was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously on January 13, 1997.
Awards and Decorations: Medal of Honor (as of September 23, 1996);Medal of Honor Purple Heart; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal.
Medal of Honor citation
For extraordinary heroism in action on December 14, 1944, near Climbach, France. While riding in the lead vehicle of a task force organized to storm and capture the village of Climbach, France, then First Lieutenant Thomas's armored scout car was subjected to intense enemy artillery, self-propelled gun, and small arms fire. Although wounded by the initial burst of hostile fire, Lieutenant Thomas signalled the remainder of the column to halt and, despite the severity of his wounds, assisted the crew of the wrecked car in dismounting. Upon leaving the scant protection which the vehicle afforded, Lieutenant Thomas was again subjected to a hail of enemy fire which inflicted multiple gunshot wounds in his chest, legs, and left arm. Despite the intense pain caused by these wounds, Lieutenant Thomas ordered and directed the dispersion and emplacement of two antitank guns which in a few moments were promptly and effectively returning the enemy fire. Realizing that he could no longer remain in command of the platoon, he signalled to the platoon commander to join him. Lieutenant Thomas then thoroughly oriented him on enemy gun dispositions and the general situation. Only after he was certain that his junior officer was in full control of the situation did he permit himself to be evacuated. First Lieutenant Thomas' outstanding heroism were an inspiration to his men and exemplify the highest traditions of the Armed Forces.
Friday, June 25, 2010
A personal note; I served on board USS Paul (FF-1080) for 2 and 1/2 years from 1978-1980. The Paul was my first ship and I spent 6 cruises on board (when I reported on board Captain Tamaney said "if you asked for a ship out of Mayport, that's what you got, we're always out of Mayport"). She was a good ship which always made it's commitments, to include those of other ships when they could not. I could not post the citations of Medal of Honer winners and leave this brave young Marine out.
Lance Corporal Joe Calvin Paul (April 4, 1946–August 8, 1965) was a United States Marine killed in the Vietnam War and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. For diverting an attack long enough to allow the evacuation of wounded Marines during Operation Starlite near Chu Lai, Vietnam, on August 18, 1965, the medal was awarded on February 7, 1967 during a ceremony in the Office of Secretary of the Navy Paul H. Nitze, who presented the award to his parents.
Joe Calvin Paul was born on April 23, 1946, in Williamsburg, Kentucky. He graduated from grammar school and attended high school for one year before enlisting in the United States Marine Corps on April 26, 1963 in Dayton, Ohio, shortly after his seventeenth birthday.
In August 1963, after completing recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, he was transferred to the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, where he underwent individual combat training with the Second Infantry Training Regiment, graduating in October 1963.
He then joined Company H, 2nd Battalion 4th Marines, 1st Marine Brigade, in Hawaii where he was promoted to private first class in December 1963 and to lance corporal in October 1964. With that unit, he sailed for the Far East, arriving in Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam on May 7, 1965 where this unit was redesignated Company H, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division.
On August 18, 1965, while serving as a fire team leader with Company H, LCpl Paul placed himself between his wounded comrades and the enemy and delivered effective suppressive fire in order to divert the Viet Cong long enough to allow the casualties to be evacuated. He fought in this exposed position until he was mortally wounded. He succumbed to his wounds the next day, August 19, 1965.
Joe C. Paul was buried in the Dayton Memorial Park Cemetery in Dayton.
The United States Navy Knox class destroyer escort, USS Paul (FF-1080) (ex-DE 1080) was named for LCpl Paul. The ship was christened and launched on June 20, 1970, and decommissioned in August 1992.
Paul's name was inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Panel 02E, Line 063.
Medal Of Honor Citation
Rank and organization: Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company H, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines (Rein), 3d Marine Division (Rein). Place and date: near Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam, 18 August 1965. Entered service at: Dayton, Ohio. Born: 23 April 1946, Williamsburg, Ky. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. In violent battle, L/Cpl. Paul's platoon sustained 5 casualties as it was temporarily pinned down, by devastating mortar, recoilless rifle, automatic weapons, and rifle fire delivered by insurgent communist (Viet Cong) forces in well entrenched positions. The wounded marines were unable to move from their perilously exposed positions forward of the remainder of their platoon, and were suddenly subjected to a barrage of white phosphorous rifle grenades. L/Cpl. Paul, fully aware that his tactics would almost certainly result in serious injury or death to himself, chose to disregard his safety and boldly dashed across the fire-swept rice paddies, placed himself between his wounded comrades and the enemy, and delivered effective suppressive fire with his automatic weapon in order to divert the attack long enough to allow the casualties to be evacuated. Although critically wounded during the course of the battle, he resolutely remained in his exposed position and continued to fire his rifle until he collapsed and was evacuated. By his fortitude and gallant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death, he saved the lives of several of his fellow marines. His heroic action served to inspire all who observed him and reflect the highest credit upon himself, the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the cause of freedom.
Paul Ray Smith (September 24, 1969 – April 4, 2003) was a United States Army Sergeant First Class who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Operation Iraqi Freedom. While serving with B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad, Iraq his team was attacked by a group of enemy fighters and after a short firefight he was killed by enemy fire. For his actions during this battle he was recommended and approved for the Medal of Honor. Two years later the medal, along with the newly approved Medal of Honor flag, was presented to his family at a White House ceremony by the President of the United States George W. Bush.
Smith was born September 24, 1969 in El Paso, Texas to Donald and Janice Pvirre but when he was nine the family moved to Tampa, Florida. As a child he attended public schools and enjoyed sports especially American football. He also liked riding skateboards and bicycles, playing pranks with his friends and younger sister Lisa. In high school he became interested in carpentry, even finding a part time job as a carpenters assistant. He also liked to work on cars, especially old ones and enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked, even restoring a dune buggy with a friend. In 1989 he graduated from Tampa Bay Vocational Tech High School and shortly after joined the United States Army in October 1989.
He was sent to Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri before being sent to Germany for his first duty station, where he joined the 9th Engineer Battalion. Later, he served during the Persian Gulf War. He deployed with B company in October 1996 as part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, the covering force for Operation Joint Endeavor and Operation Joint Guardian; the battalion returned to Schweinfurt in April 1997. In 1999 he was posted to the 11th Engineer Battalion and deployed with them to Kosovo in May 2001, were he was responsible for daily presence patrols in the town of Gnjilane. In the spring of 2002, he received a promotion to Sergeant First Class and completed the Advanced Non-Commissioned Officer Course in August 2002.
As part of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he was assigned to B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Division. His company was supporting the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment as it made its way through the Karbala Gap, across the Euphrates River and to Saddam International Airport (BIAP) in Baghdad. On April 4, 2003, a 100-man force was assigned to block the highway between Baghdad and the airport, about one mile east of the airport. After a brief battle, several of the enemy were captured. Smith spotted a walled enclosure nearby with a tower overlooking it. He and his squad set about building an impromptu enemy prisoner of war (EPW) holding area in the enclosure. Smith and 16 other men used an Armored Combat Earthmover (similar to a bulldozer) to knock a hole in the south wall of the courtyard. On the north side, there was a metal gate that Smith assigned several men to guard. These men noticed 50–100 enemy who had taken positions in trenches just past the gate. He summoned a Bradley fighting vehicle to attack their position. Three nearby M113 Armored Personnel Carriers came to support the attack. An M113 was hit, possibly by a mortar, and all three crewmen were wounded. The Bradley, damaged and running low on ammunition, withdrew to reload during a lull in the battle. Smith organized the evacuation of the injured M113 crewmen. However, behind the courtyard was a military aid station crowded with 100 combat casualties. To protect it from being overrun, Smith chose to fight on rather than withdraw with the wounded.
Meanwhile, some enemy had taken position in the tower overlooking the courtyard, just over the west wall. The enemy now had the Americans in the courtyard under an intense crossfire. Smith took command of the M113 and ordered a driver to position it so that he could attack both the tower and the trenches. He manned the M113's machine gun, going through three boxes of ammunition. A separate team, led by First Sergeant Tim Campbell attacked the tower from the rear, killing the enemy. As the battle ended, Smith's machine gun fell silent. His comrades found him slumped in the turret hatch. His armored vest was peppered with 13 bullet holes, the vest's ceramic armor inserts, both front and back, cracked in numerous places. But the fatal shot, one of the last from the tower, had entered his neck and passed through his brain, killing SFC Smith.
Before deploying to Iraq Smith had written to his parents, "There are two ways to come home, stepping off the plane and being carried off the plane. It doesn't matter how I come home, because I am prepared to give all that I am to ensure that all my boys make it home." Smith is buried in Arlington National Cemetery Arlington, Virginia and his grave can be found in memorial Section D, lot 67.
At the time of his death he had served for thirteen years and for his actions during the battle, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. On April 4, 2005, exactly two years after he was killed, his eleven-year-old son David received the Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush along with the Medal of Honor flag.
SFC Smith is survived by his wife Birgit, son David, and stepdaughter Jessica.
During his military career he received twenty-two military decorations and badges. A full list of his military decorations are as follows: Medal of Honor, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal (3rd award), National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal(with three bronze stars), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Army NCO Professional Development Ribbon (2nd award), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (3rd award), NATO Medal (Kosovo), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait), Valorous Unit Award, Army Superior Unit Award, German Marksmanship Badge and the French Armed Forces Commando Badge.
Medal Of Honor Citation
Rank and Organization: Sergeant First Class, United States Army
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Ross Andrew McGinnis (June 14, 1987 – December 4, 2006) was a soldier who served in the United States Army during the Iraq War and was posthumously awarded the United States' highest decoration for bravery, the Medal of Honor. While serving as the gunner in a HMMWV, his convoy was attacked and a hand grenade was thrown into his vehicle. McGinnis was subsequently killed in action when he threw himself on the grenade, saving the lives of at least four other soldiers in the vehicle. He was the fourth soldier to receive the Medal of Honor during the Iraq War, which was presented to his family following his death.
McGinnis was born in Meadville, Pennsylvania on June 14, 1987 to Romayne and Tom McGinnis. Although he was born in Meadville he grew up in Knox, east of Pittsburgh, after his family moved there when he was three. When he was in kindergarten, his teacher gave him a paper that at the top said "When I grow up, I want to be __________" and he wrote an "Army Man". When he was growing up he became involved in the Boy Scouts of America, enjoyed working on cars, and was an athlete playing multiple sports. He played basketball and soccer through the YMCA, and Little League baseball. He attended Clarion County public schools and although he was a marginal student, he graduated from Keystone Junior/Senior High School in 2005. He has two sisters, Becky and Katie.
McGinnis had wanted to be a soldier since kindergarten and joined the Army through the Delayed Entry Program on his 17th birthday, on June 14, 2004. Following basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in Ledward Barracks, in Schweinfurt, Germany.
In August 2006, aged 19, the regiment was deployed to eastern Baghdad and he was serving as a .50 caliber machine-gunner in a Humvee during operations against insurgents in Adhamiyah. On December 4, while his platoon was on mounted patrol in Adhamiyah, a grenade was thrown into his vehicle. He told the other four men about it, so they could prepare for the blast. Instead of jumping out of the gunning hatch, he threw his back over the grenade, absorbing the bulk of the blast. He was killed instantly, but the other occupants were able to survive with only minor injuries.
He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and his grave can be found in section 60, site 8544. Since the beginning of the Iraq War, he is one of four known United States servicemembers who have thrown themselves on a live grenade. The other personnel known to have done this are Marine Corporal Jason Dunham, Navy SEAL Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, and Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta. McGinnis was the fourth recipient of the Medal of Honor in the course of the Iraq War.
A ceremony was held in the east room of the White House on June 2, 2008 in which the medal was presented to his family by President George W. Bush. In addition to his family and the President a many other notable people attended the ceremony, including the Vice President, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne, General Jim "Hoss" Cartwright, and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Several members of congress also attended as did members of McGinnis' unit from Iraq, including the other soldiers from the vehicle he sacrificed his life to save.
In addition to the Medal of Honor he also received a posthumous promotion to specialist as well as the following medals and ribbons; Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and Army Overseas Service Ribbon.
Medal Of Honor Citation
Rank and Organization: Private First Class, United States Army
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an M2 .50-caliber Machine Gunner, 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Adhamiyah, Northeast Baghdad, Iraq, on 4 December 2006.
That afternoon his platoon was conducting combat control operations in an effort to reduce and control sectarian violence in the area. While Private McGinnis was manning the M2 .50-caliber Machine Gun, a fragmentation grenade thrown by an insurgent fell through the gunner's hatch into the vehicle. Reacting quickly, he yelled "grenade," allowing all four members of his crew to prepare for the grenade's blast. Then, rather than leaping from the gunner's hatch to safety, Private McGinnis made the courageous decision to protect his crew. In a selfless act of bravery, in which he was mortally wounded, Private McGinnis covered the live grenade, pinning it between his body and the vehicle and absorbing most of the explosion.
Private McGinnis' gallant action directly saved four men from certain serious injury or death. Private First Class McGinnis' extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
Jason Dunham (November 10, 1981 – April 22, 2004) was a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps who served with 4th Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment (3/7), 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
While fighting with his unit in Karabilah, Iraq, an enemy soldier threw a grenade that landed next to him. Rather than allow the grenade to explode and kill or injure not only himself but several other Marines in the area he sacrificed himself and dove on top of the grenade. When it exploded Dunham was seriously injured and died eight days later.
On November 10, 2006, at the dedication of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, President George W. Bush announced that Dunham would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on April 14, 2004 near Husaybah, Iraq. Dunham became the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq, and the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.
Jason Dunham was born November 10, 1981 in Scio, New York and lived his entire life in Scio, graduating from Scio High school in 2000. While attending Scio high school Dunham played basketball for his high school team.
Dunham joined the Marine Corps in 2000 after graduating high school and after completing recruit training, he served as a Security Force sentry at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia.
In early 2004, he was serving with 4th Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment (3/7), 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. On April 14, 2004, Corporal Dunham was leading a Marine patrol near Husaybah, Iraq, investigating an attack on a Marine convoy. His patrol intercepted a number of cars spotted near the scene of the attack. An individual in one of the vehicles attacked Dunham. During the fighting, the individual dropped a live Mills bomb-type hand grenade. Dunham, to save the rest of his men, threw himself on the grenade, attempting to use his helmet to shield himself and others from the explosion.
Corporal Dunham was severely wounded as a result of the grenade blast and was taken to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland where he was being treated for his injuries. He died eight days later, on April 22, 2004. Shortly beforehand, Marine Corps Commandant Michael Hagee presented Dunham with the Purple Heart. General Hagee, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps John L. Estrada and Dunham's parents were at his bedside when he died. He was buried in Fairlawn Cemetery, Scio New York.
In addition to the Medal of Honor and his other military decorations Dunham has also received other honors including being the namesake of a United States Navy destroyer, a post office and Marine Corps barracks.
Dunham's awards include: Medal of Honor, Combat Action Ribbon, Purple Heart, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Medal Of Honor Citation
Rank and Organization: Corporal, United States Marine Corps
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Rifle Squad Leader, 4th Platoon, Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines (Reinforced), Regimental Combat Team 7, First Marine Division (Reinforced), on 14 April 2004. Corporal Dunham's squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, when they heard rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire erupt approximately two kilometers to the west. Corporal Dunham led his Combined Anti-Armor Team towards the engagement to provide fire support to their Battalion Commander's convoy, which had been ambushed as it was traveling to Camp Husaybah. As Corporal Dunham and his Marines advanced, they quickly began to receive enemy fire. Corporal Dunham ordered his squad to dismount their vehicles and led one of his fire teams on foot several blocks south of the ambushed convoy. Discovering seven Iraqi vehicles in a column attempting to depart, Corporal Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons. As they approached the vehicles, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Corporal Dunham. Corporal Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground and in the ensuing struggle saw the insurgent release a grenade. Corporal Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of the imminent danger and without hesitation, Corporal Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast. In an ultimate and selfless act of bravery in which he was mortally wounded, he saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Corporal Dunham gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Sergeant First Class Jared Christopher Monti (September 20, 1975 – June 21, 2006) was a soldier in the United States Army who received the United States military's highest decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in Afghanistan. Monti was born in Abington, Massachusetts, on September 20, 1975, to Paul, a school teacher, and Janet Monti. He grew up in Raynham, Massachusetts and even as a child the adventurous character that would later earn him the Medal of Honor was already appeared. As a four-year-old, he disappeared from the backyard one day, and his mother found him later, hanging from his hood on the other side of the fence. On another occasion, a migraine headache kept him home from school, but he left the house and was later found climbing a tree. Monti became interested in bodybuilding and by the time he graduated had become a New England champion in wrestling. In 1994 he graduated from Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School at the age of 18. Monti had two siblings, a sister, Niccole and a brother, Timothy.
In June of 2006, the 3rd Squadron of the 71st Cavalry Regiment (Recon), 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, prepared to execute Operation Gowardesh Thrust, a Squadron size operation in the Gremen Valley, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan.
The operation was designed to disrupt enemy operations in the Gremen Valley by denying the enemy freedom of movement and the use of critical staging areas near the border with Pakistan. The initial phase of the operation required a 16-man patrol to infiltrate into the area of operations in advance of the Squadron’s main effort.
The patrol, consisting of snipers, forward observers and scouts, would maneuver north along a high ridgeline overlooking the Gremen Valley. From the high ground of the ridge, the patrol would provide real-time intelligence and help direct fires against enemy forces attempting to oppose the Squadron’s main effort.
On the evening of June 17, 2006, a convoy transported the patrol to a pre-established mortar firing position south of the village of Baz-Gal near the Gowardesh Bridge. The following morning, the patrol infiltrated on foot from the mortar firing position into their area of operation. For three days, the patrol moved north up the ridgeline through rugged mountain terrain. Due to the difficulty of the climb and temperatures near 100 degrees, the patrol moved mostly at night or in the early morning hours; stopping during the heat of the day to observe the valley below.
On June 20, 2006, the patrol leaders, Staff Sgt. Christopher M. Cunningham and Staff Sgt. Jared C. Monti, halted the patrol on the ridgeline of Mountain 2610, approximately 5 kilometers northwest of the village of Gowardesh. With an elevation of over 2600 meters, Mountain 2610 commanded a view of several enemy known areas of interest, including insurgent safe houses and the summer residence of Hadji Usman, an HIG commander, who was a vetted Combined Joint Task Force 76 insurgent target.
Staff Sgt. Cunningham and Staff Sgt. Monti selected a flat area on top of the ridge approximately 50 meters long and 20 meters wide, with a trail running along the eastern edge. At the southern end of the position, there were several large rocks, a portion of an old stone wall and a few small trees. The terrain sloped gradually upward to the north. At the northern end of the patrol’s position there was a line of dense vegetation composed of trees, heavy brush and smaller rocks. In between the large rocks to the south and the tree line to the north was a clearing approximately 40-50 meters in length. The terrain dropped off steeply on the eastern and western sides of the position. The rocks and trees around the position provided concealment and protection for the patrol as they observed the valley more than 1,000 meters below.
The patrol spent the night of June 20, 2006, observing from their position on Mountain 2610. The following morning the patrol was dangerously low on both food and water. A re-supply mission was scheduled for that day. The re-supply was originally coordinated to occur in conjunction with the Squadron’s main effort, which included a large air assault into the Gremen Valley. The heavy helicopter traffic associated with the air assault mission would have provided distraction for the re-supply; reducing the risk that the drop would compromise the patrol’s position. However, on the morning of June 21, 2006, Monti and Cunningham learned that the Squadron operation had been pushed back until June 24, 2006. The delay extended the patrol’s mission by several days, making re-supply critical; however, the absence of other aerial traffic increased the risk that the re-supply would compromise the patrol. Because of the critical shortage of water, it was determined that the re-supply would go forward as planned despite the risk of compromise.
The drop zone was located approximately 150 meters from the patrol’s position. Staff Sgt. Cunningham and Staff Sgt. Monti brought the majority of their patrol to the re-supply drop zone to provide security and to transport the supplies back to the patrol’s position. A smaller group remained at the observation position to provide security and to continue to survey the valley below. At approximately 1:30 in the afternoon, a UH-60 Black Hawk delivered food and water to the patrol. The patrol secured the supplies and began transporting them back to their observation position.
Spc. Max Noble, the patrol’s medic, was one of the Soldiers who remained at the observation position while the majority of the patrol picked up the re-supply. Spc. Noble was using a spotting scope to look down into the valley. Prior to the patrol’s return from the re-supply drop, Noble observed a local national male in the valley using military style binoculars to look up towards at the patrol’s position. Spc. Noble informed Cunningham and Monti as soon as they returned. They watched the man observing the patrol’s position for several minutes before he picked up a bag and walked away.
As dusk approached, the patrol established a security perimeter around their position and scheduled guard rotations. The patrol members then divided up the supplies and prepared for the night. Staff Sgt. Cunningham, Staff Sgt. Monti, and Sgt. John R. Hawes sat behind one of the large rocks at the southern end of the patrol’s position and discussing courses of action in the event that their position had likely been compromised. Pfc. Brian J. Bradbury, Pfc. Mark James, Pvt. Sean J. Smith, Spc. Matthew P. Chambers, Spc. Shawn M. Heistand, and Spc. Franklin L. Woods were at the northern end of the position, near the wood line. Sgt. Chris J. Grzecki, Spc. Noble, and Spc. John H. Garner were along the trail on the eastern edge of the position using spotting scopes to monitor the valley below.
At approximately, 6:45 in the evening, Spc. Woods heard the shuffling of feet in the wood line immediately to the north. Before he could react, the patrol’s position was hit by a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), medium machine gun (PK) fire, and small-arms fire from the wood line. An enemy force of approximately 50 fighters was moving in under cover from two support-by-fire positions above the patrol to the north and northwest. Members of the patrol could hear enemy fighters giving commands as they moved through the wood line at the northern end of the patrol’s position.
At the time of the attack, the six patrol members at the northern end of the patrol’s position immediately dove for cover as the enemy opened fire. The attack came so quickly and with such ferocity, that many of the patrol members at the northern end of the position were unable to maneuver to get to their weapons. Others had their weapons literally shot out of their hands by the intense fire.
Spc. Heistand and Pfc. Bradbury were both near the wood line when the enemy opened fire. Heistand was armed with an assault rifle and Bradbury was a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) gunner. Both hit the ground and began to return fire. However, they soon realized that their fire was drawing the enemies’ attention to their dangerously exposed position in the open area near the wood line. Spc. Heistand told Pfc. Bradbury that they had to fall back to the south where the large rocks would provide better cover. Spc. Heistand then jumped up and sprinted back towards the large rocks at the southern end of the position. Pfc. Bradbury was directly behind Spc. Heistand as they headed for the rocks, however, Pfc. Bradbury did not make it back to the rocks.
Pfc. James, Spc. Chambers, Spc. Woods, and Pvt. Smith were also in the area near the wood line when the enemy attacked. They also fell quickly back towards the large rocks to the south. Chambers, Woods, and Smith successfully made it to cover without injury; however, Pfc. James was hit by small arms fire in the back and wrist as he ran for cover to the south. Although wounded, Pfc. James was able to crawl back towards the rest of the patrol on the southern end of the position. As soon as he was close enough, other members of the patrol grabbed James and drug him to better cover behind the rocks. Spc. Chambers, who lost his weapon in the initial volley, then took Pfc. James to a safe position further back from the rocks and administered first aid.
From behind the rocks at the southern end of the patrol’s position, Staff Sgt. Monti, Staff Sgt. Cunningham, and Sgt. Hawes returned fire, attempting to cover for the patrol members falling back from the north. However, the intensity of the enemy small arms fire and frequent volleys of RPGs made it dangerous for the patrol members to expose themselves in order to accurately aim their return fire.
Sgt. Patrick L. Lybert was in a prone position beside the small stone wall which was slightly out in front of the larger rocks at the southern end of the patrol’s position. Although his position did not provide complete cover, it did provide the best vantage to place accurate fire on the enemy. From his position, Sgt. Lybert used aimed shots and controlled bursts to effectively slow the approaching enemy while other members of the patrol consolidated their position behind the rocks at the southern end of the position.
As the patrol fell back behind the large rocks, Staff Sgt. Cunningham and Staff Sgt. Monti took charge of the defense. They quickly set up a perimeter, posting Soldiers to guard potential approaches on their flanks. They directed return fire and cautioned their Soldiers to control their fires to conserve ammunition. Staff Sgt. Monti grabbed his radio handset and cleared the network to call for fire. He calmly informed headquarters that the patrol was under attack, heavily outnumbered, and at risk of being overrun.
Staff Sgt. Monti provided accurate grid coordinates of the enemy’s current positions and likely avenues of approach as RPGs skipped off of the rock above his head. Due to the proximity of the enemy forces, Staff Sgt. Monti’s call for fire was ‘danger close.’
While Monti was calling in the fire support mission, Staff Sgt. Cunningham moved along the rocks towards the eastern edge of the patrol’s position to take charge of the defense at that end of the position. Sgt. Hawes remained on the western side of the position to defend the western approach and to provide cover for Monti as he worked the radio calling for indirect fire. Sgt. Lybert was still out in front of the larger rocks returning fire from behind the stone wall. At some point, members of the patrol saw Lybert’s head slump forward and blood began to pour from his ears. Members of the patrol called out to Sgt. Lybert, but he did not respond. Spc. Noble, the patrol’s medic was on the western side of the position, near Sgt. Lybert, but was unable to get to Lybert to provide treatment due to the volume of enemy fire. However, Spc. Daniel B. Linnihan crawled out just far enough to grab Sgt. Lybert’s weapon and drag it back behind the rocks for use by the members of the patrol.
The enemy used support by fire positions to fix the patrol as they split into two groups to flank the patrol from the east and west. One group of approximately 15 fighters moved through the wood line towards the patrol’s western flank while a smaller group maneuvered across the trail to attempt to flank the eastern side of the position. The patrol members on either end of the position redirected their fires to protect their flanks. Patrol members with weapons traded off with unarmed members to ensure that the Soldier in the best position had a weapon to defeat the flanking maneuver. Pvt. Smith was along the trail on the eastern edge of the patrol’s position. From a covered position he killed several enemy fighters attempting to move up the trail to flank the patrol.
While still communicating with the Squadron headquarters, Staff Sgt. Monti periodically dropped the handset to engage the enemy with his rifle. At one point, he noticed a group of fighters closing in on the western flank and disrupted their attack with several bursts from his M-4. As the enemy closed within ten meters of the patrol’s defensive perimeter, Monti threw a grenade into their path. Although the grenade was inert, it’s presence disrupted the enemy advance and caused them to scatter and fall back, denying the enemy a position on the patrol’s flank. Staff Sgt. Monti then went back to the radio and continued to call for fire.
At this time, the initial volley of mortar fire began to fall on the advancing enemy, driving them back to a wood line north of the patrol’s position. The mortar firing position asked Staff Sgt. Monti to adjust the incoming rounds, however, the enemy fire from the wood line was so extreme that Monti was unable to even raise his head up to observe the incoming rounds.
As the enemy was driven back into the wood line, Staff Sgt. Monti and Staff Sgt. Cunningham took accountability of their Soldiers. They quickly realized that one Soldier, Pfc. Bradbury, was unaccounted for. Monti called for Bradbury several times and received no response. Finally, over the din of near constant enemy fire, they heard Pfc. Bradbury weakly reply that he was badly injured and unable to move.
Pfc. Bradbury, who was a SAW gunner on Staff Sgt. Monti’s team, lay severely wounded in a shallow depression approximately 20 meters in front of the patrol. The shallow depression prevented the patrol from actually seeing Bradbury, but it also protected him from enemy view. Other than the shallow depression, there was no other substantial cover near the wounded Soldier. The enemy in the wood line was as close as 30 meters on the other side of Pfc. Bradbury.
Staff Sgt. Monti recognized that Pfc. Bradbury was not only exposed to enemy fire, but also to the incoming indirect fire. He called out to Bradbury to reassure him that he would be alright and that they were coming to get him. Staff Sgt. Cunningham yelled across the rocks to Monti, that he would go for Pfc. Bradbury. However, Monti insisted that Bradbury was his Soldier and that he would go and get him.
Staff Sgt. Monti then handed the radio handset to Sgt. Grzecki and said, “you are now Chaos three-five,” which was Monti’s call sign. After tightening down his chin strap, Staff Sgt. Monti, without hesitation or concern for his own safety, moved out from behind the protection of the large rocks into the open, and into the face of enemy fire.
The wood line immediately erupted as dozens of enemy fighters focused their fire on Staff Sgt. Monti running towards his wounded Soldier. Patrol members reported hearing the distinct report of PK machine guns as soon as Monti left the protection of the rocks. Moving low and fast, Monti approached to within a few meters of Bradbury before heavy enemy fire forced him to move back and dive behind the small stone wall where Sgt. Lybert was located.
After pausing briefly to verify that Sgt. Lybert was dead, Staff Sgt. Monti again rose from his covered position and again moved out into a wall of enemy fire in his second attempt to save Pfc. Bradbury. This time, the fire was even more intense and Monti only made it a few steps before a volley of small arms fire and RPGs drove him back behind cover of the stone wall.
Unwilling to leave his Soldier wounded and exposed, Staff Sgt. Monti prepared to make a third attempt to get to the wounded Pfc. Bradbury. This time, Monti yelled back to the patrol members behind the rocks that he needed more cover fire. He coordinated with Sgt. Hawes to fire 40mm grenades from his M203 launcher onto the enemy position, while other members of the patrol would provide cover fire. Timing his movement to the sound of the exploding 40mm rounds, Staff Sgt. Monti, for a third time, rose from his covered position and moved into the open, knowing he again would be the focus of the enemy fire.
On his third attempt, Staff Sgt. Monti took several lunging steps through withering fire towards his wounded Soldier before an RPG exploded in his path. Before he could reach cover, Monti fell mortally wounded only a few meters from Pfc. Bradbury. Staff Sgt. Monti attempted to crawl back towards the stone wall, but was unable to move far due to the severity of his wounds. The patrol called out to Staff Sgt. Monti and tried to encourage him to remain conscious. Monti spoke briefly with the members of the patrol, telling them that he had made his peace with God. He then asked Staff Sgt. Cunningham to tell his parents that he loved them. Shortly thereafter, he fell silent.
By this time it was getting dark and the incoming mortar and howitzer rounds were falling with accuracy on the enemy position. Close air support was on station and the aviators dropped several 500lb bombs as well as two 2000lb bombs with direction from Sgt. Grzecki. The patrol members redoubled their efforts to beat back the superior enemy force. Under the weight of the accurate indirect fire, the enemy effort began to slacken.
As the enemy fire slowed, Sgt. Hawes low-crawled out from behind the rocks and made his way to Sgt. Lybert’s body. He took Sgt. Lybert’s ammunition and handed it back to one of the Soldiers fighting behind the rock. He then moved out to Staff Sgt. Monti’s body and confirmed that Monti had been killed while attempting to save Pfc. Bradbury. Sgt. Hawes took Monti’s weapon and ammunition and passed them back to the patrol.
Staff Sgt. Cunningham and Pfc. Smith then moved up along the trail to the east and made their way towards Pfc. Bradbury. They found Bradbury approximately 20 meters in front of the rocks. Pfc. Bradbury was alive, and although seriously wounded, he was able to communicate. Pfc. Bradbury reported that there were approximately 40 enemy fighters in the wooded area to the north. He was able to hear them talking and giving commands during the engagement.
It was completely dark by the time Staff Sgt. Cunningham brought Pfc. Bradbury back behind the rock so he could be treated by Spc. Noble.
The patrol remained in their position for the rest of the night. The next morning, they assessed the enemy position and found several blood trails and a bloody shoe, but no bodies. Later estimates put the enemy death toll at 15-20. The patrol moved on that day and made their way off of the mountain on foot.
Staff Sgt. Monti was posthumously promoted to Sergeant First Class on June 22, 2006.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Monti's awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (5), Army Achievement Medal (4), Good Conduct Medal (2), National Defense Service Medal (2), Korean Defense Service Medal (2), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (2), Kosovo Campaign Medal (2), Non-Commissioned Officer Development Ribbon (2), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge, and Air Assault Badge.
Medal Of Honor Citation
Rank and Organization: Sergeant First Class, United States Army.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Staff Sergeant Jared C. Monti distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a team leader with Headquarters and Headquarters troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, in connection with combat operations against an enemy in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, on June 21st, 2006. While Staff Sergeant Monti was leading a mission aimed at gathering intelligence and directing fire against the enemy, his 16-man patrol was attacked by as many as 50 enemy fighters. On the verge of being overrun, Staff Sergeant Monti quickly directed his men to set up a defensive position behind a rock formation. He then called for indirect fire support, accurately targeting the rounds upon the enemy who had closed to within 50 meters of his position. While still directing fire, Staff Sergeant Monti personally engaged the enemy with his rifle and a grenade, successfully disrupting an attempt to flank his patrol. Staff Sergeant Monti then realized that one of his soldiers was lying wounded in the open ground between the advancing enemy and the patrol's position. With complete disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Monti twice attempted to move from behind the cover of the rocks into the face of relentless enemy fire to rescue his fallen comrade. Determined not to leave his soldier, Staff Sergeant Monti made a third attempt to cross open terrain through intense enemy fire. On this final attempt, he was mortally wounded, sacrificing his own life in an effort to save his fellow soldier. Staff Sergeant Monti's selfless acts of heroism inspired his patrol to fight off the larger enemy force. Staff Sergeant Monti's immeasurable courage and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, and the United States Army.
Michael Patrick Murphy (May 7, 1976 – June 28, 2005) was a United States Navy SEAL posthumously awarded the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the current War in Afghanistan. He was the first person to be awarded the medal for actions in Afghanistan; and the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War.
Michael Murphy was born and raised in New York and after graduating from High school he went to Penn State, graduating with honors and dual degrees in both political science and psychology. After college he accepted a commission in the United States Navy and became a United States Navy SEAL in July 2002.
Murphy was sent on several missions while participating in the Global War on Terrorism but was killed on June 28, 2005 after his team was compromised and surrounded by Taliban forces near Asadabad, Afghanistan.
In addition to the Medal of Honor Murphy received other awards including the Silver Star and Purple Heart as well as a United States Navy destroyer, a post office and a park named in his honor.
Murphy was born May 7, 1976 in Smithtown, New York to Irish American parents Maureen and Daniel Murphy, a former assistant Suffolk County district attorney. He was raised in Patchogue and as a boy attended Saxton Middle School where he played youth soccer and pee-wee football with his father as coach. In high school, he continued playing sports and took a summer job as a lifeguard at the Brookhaven town beach in Lake Ronkonkoma. He returned to the job every summer through his college years.
In 1994 Murphy graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School and left home to attend The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). He graduated from Penn State in 1998 with degrees in both political science and psychology.
After graduating from Penn State, Murphy was accepted to several law schools, but decided to attend SEAL mentoring sessions at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. In September 2000, he accepted an appointment to the U.S. Navy's Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. On December 13 of that year, he was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy and began Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, California in January 2001, eventually graduating with Class 236.
Upon graduation from BUD/S, he attended the United States Army Airborne School, SEAL Qualification Training and SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) school. Murphy earned his SEAL Trident and checked on board SDV Team ONE (SDVT-1) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in July 2002. In October 2002, he deployed with Foxtrot Platoon to Jordan as the liaison officer for Exercise Early Victor. Following his tour with SDVT-1, Murphy was assigned to Special Operations Central Command in Florida and deployed to Qatar in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After returning from Qatar, he was deployed to Djibouti to assist in the operational planning of future SDV missions.
Operation Enduring Freedom is the official name used by the United States Government for its War in Afghanistan, together with three smaller military actions under the umbrella of its Global War on Terror. The War began on October 7, 2001 with the response of the United States and United Kingdom to the September 11 attacks in New York City. In early 2005, Murphy was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE as assistant officer in charge of Alpha Platoon and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Operation Red Wing was a failed counter-insurgent mission in Kunar province, Afghanistan, involving four members of the United States Navy SEALs. Murphy and two other SEALs were killed in the fighting in addition to 16 American Special Operations Forces soldiers who were killed when their helicopter was shot down while attempting to extract the SEAL Team. It was the largest loss of life for American forces since the invasion began and was the largest loss for the SEALs since the Vietnam War. Marcus Luttrell was the only surviving American sailor from the squad; he was protected by local villagers who sent an emissary to the closest military base allowing a rescue team to locate him.
Murphy led the four-man reconnaissance team on a mission to kill or capture a top Taliban leader, Ahmad Shah, who commanded a group of insurgents known as the "Mountain Tigers," west of Asadabad. The group was dropped off by helicopter in a remote, mountainous area east of Asadabad in Kunar Province, near the Pakistan border. After an initially successful infiltration, local goat herders stumbled upon the SEALs' hiding place. Unable to verify any hostile intent from the herders, Murphy asked the team what should be done with them. Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Matthew Axelson reportedly voted to kill the Afghans, and Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Danny Dietz did not offer an opinion, causing Murphy to state that he would vote the same as Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Marcus Luttrell, who said the herders should be set free. Hostile locals, possibly the goat herders they let pass, alerted 80 to 200 nearby Taliban forces, who surrounded and attacked the small group. After Murphy called for help, an MH-47 Chinook helicopter loaded with reinforcements was dispatched to rescue the team, but was shot down with an RPG, killing all 16 personnel aboard, including an additional eight SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers.
By the end of the two-hour battle, approximately 35 Taliban soldiers, Murphy, Dietz, and Axelson were killed in the action. Luttrell was the only American survivor and was eventually rescued after several days of wandering the mountain and being protected by the people of an Afghanistan village. All three of Murphy's men were awarded the Navy's second-highest honor, the Navy Cross, for their part in the battle making theirs the most decorated Navy SEAL team in history.
Lt. Murphy was killed June 28, 2005 after exposing himself to enemy fire and knowingly leaving his position of cover to get a clear signal in order to communicate with his headquarters. He provided his unit’s location and requested immediate support for his element and then returned to his position to continue fighting until he died from his wounds.
On July 4, 2005 Murphy's remains were found by a group of American soldiers during a combat search and rescue operation and returned to the United States. Later that month Murphy was buried on Long Island in Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, New York, Section 67, Grave No. 3710.
Medal of Honor Citation
Rank and Organization: Lieutenant, United States Navy
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan. On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy's team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four-member team. Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his Headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, courageous actions, and extraordinary devotion to duty, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Michael Anthony Monsoor (April 5, 1981 – September 29, 2006) was a U.S. Navy SEAL killed during the Iraq War and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Monsoor enlisted in the United States Navy in 2001 and graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in 2004. After further training he was assigned to Delta Platoon, SEAL Team Three.
Delta Platoon was sent to Iraq in April 2006 and assigned to train Iraqi Army soldiers in Ramadi. Over the next five months, Monsoor and his platoon frequently engaged in combat with insurgent forces. On September 29, 2006 an insurgent threw a grenade onto a rooftop where Monsoor and several other SEAL and Iraqi soldiers were positioned. Monsoor quickly smothered the grenade with his body, absorbing the resulting explosion and most likely saving his comrades from serious injury or death. Monsoor died 30 minutes later from serious wounds caused by the grenade explosion.
Michael was born April 5, 1981 in Long Beach, California, the third of four children born to George and Sally Monsoor. George was formerly in the United States military also, as a Marine. When he was a child Monsoor was afflicted with asthma but strengthened his lungs by racing his siblings in the family's swimming pool. He attended Dr. Walter C. Ralston Intermediate School and Garden Grove High School in Garden Grove, California and played tight-end on the school's football team, graduating in 1999. Monsoor is of Lebanese Christian descent on his father's side and Irish by way of his mother.
Monsoor enlisted in the United States Navy on March 21, 2001, and attended Basic Training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois. Upon graduation from basic training, he attended Quartermaster "A" School, and then transferred to Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Italy for a short period of time. He entered the Basic Underwater Demolitions School (BUD/S) and graduated from Class 250 on September 2, 2004 as one of the top performers in his class. After BUD/S, he completed advanced SEAL training courses including parachute training at Basic Airborne School, cold weather combat training in Kodiak, Alaska, and six months of SEAL Qualification Training in Coronado, California graduating in March 2005. The following month, his rating changed from Quartermaster to Master-at-Arms, and he was assigned to Delta Platoon, SEAL Team Three.
During Operation Kentucky Jumper, SEAL Team Three was sent to Ramadi, Iraq in April 2006 and assigned to train Iraqi Army soldiers. As a communicator and machine-gunner on patrols, Monsoor carried 100 pounds of gear in temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees. He took a lead position to protect the platoon from frontal assault and the team was frequently involved in engagements with insurgent fighters. During the first five months of deployment, the team reportedly killed 84 insurgents.
During an engagement on May 9, 2006, Monsoor ran into a street while under continuous insurgent gunfire to rescue an injured comrade. Monsoor was awarded the Silver Star for this action and was also awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq.
On September 29, 2006, Monsoor's platoon engaged four insurgents in a firefight, killing one and injuring another. Anticipating further attacks, Monsoor, three SEAL snipers and three Iraqi Army soldiers took up a rooftop position. Civilians aiding the insurgents blocked off the streets, and a nearby mosque broadcast a message for people to fight against the Americans and the Iraqi soldiers. Monsoor was protecting other SEALs, two of whom were 15 feet away from him. Monsoor's position made him the only SEAL on the rooftop with quick access to an escape route.
A grenade was thrown onto the rooftop by an insurgent on the street below. The grenade hit Monsoor in the chest and fell onto the floor. Immediately, Monsoor yelled "Grenade!" and jumped onto the grenade, covering it with his body. The grenade exploded seconds later and Monsoor's body absorbed most of the force of the blast. Monsoor was severely wounded and although evacuated immediately, he died 30 minutes later. Two other SEALs next to him at the time were injured by the explosion but survived.
Monsoor died September 29, 2006 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq and was described as a "quiet professional" and a "fun-loving guy" by those who knew him. He is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.
During the funeral, as the coffin was moving from the hearse to the grave site, Navy SEALs were lined up forming a column of twos on both sides of the pallbearers route, with the coffin moving up the center. As the coffin passed each SEAL, they slapped down the gold Trident each had removed from his own uniform and deeply embedded it into the wooden coffin. For nearly 30 minutes the slaps were audible from across the cemetery as nearly every SEAL on the west coast repeated the ceremony.
The display moved many attending the funeral, including U.S. President George W. Bush, who spoke about the incident later during a speech stating: "The procession went on nearly half an hour, and when it was all over, the simple wooden coffin had become a gold-plated memorial to a hero who will never be forgotten.”
Medal of Honor Citation
Rank and Organization: Master-At-Arms Second Class (Sea, Air And Land), United States Navy
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as automatic weapons gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006. As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army Sniper Overwatch Element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element's position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy's initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor's chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Silver Star citation
"[F]or conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy as Platoon Machine Gunner in Sea, Air, Land Team THREE (SEAL-3), Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, Task Unit Ramadi, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 9 May 2006. Petty Officer Monsoor was the Platoon Machine Gunner of an overwatch element, providing security for an Iraqi Army Brigade during counter-insurgency operations. While moving toward extraction, the Iraqi Army and Naval Special Warfare overwatch team received effective enemy automatic weapons fire resulting in one SEAL wounded in action. Immediately, Petty Officer Monsoor, with complete disregard for his own safety, exposed himself to heavy enemy fire in order to provide suppressive fire and fight his way to the wounded SEAL's position. He continued to provide effective suppressive fire while simultaneously dragging the wounded SEAL to safety. Petty Officer Monsoor maintained suppressive fire as the wounded SEAL received tactical casualty treatment to his leg. He also helped load his wounded teammate into a High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle for evacuation, then returned to combat. By his bold initiative, undaunted courage, and complete dedication to duty, Petty Officer Monsoor reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
Bronze Star citation
"For heroic achievement in connection with combat operations against the enemy as Task Unit Ramadi, Iraq, Combat Advisor for Naval Special Warfare Task Group – Arabian Peninsula in Support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from April to September 2006. On 11 different operations, Petty Officer Monsoor exposed himself to heavy enemy fire while shielding his teammates with suppressive fire. He aggressively stabilized each chaotic situation with focused determination and uncanny tactical awareness. Each time insurgents assaulted his team with small arms fire or rocket propelled grenades, he quickly assessed the situation, determined the best course of action to counter the enemy assaults, and implemented his plan to gain the best tactical advantage. His selfless, decisive, heroic actions resulted in 25 enemy killed and saved the lives of his teammates, other Coalition Forces and Iraqi Army soldiers. By his extraordinary guidance, zealous initiative, and total dedication to duty, Petty Officer Monsoor reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001)
In October 2008, United States Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter announced that the second ship in the Zumwalt-class of destroyers would be named USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) in honor of Petty Officer Monsoor.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Those of you who might not know, the man on the left is the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and he is proud to know the man on the right.
Maybe you'd like to hear about a real American, somebody who honored the uniform he wears.
Meet Brian Chontosh, Churchville-Chili Central School Class of 1991.
Husband and about-to-be father. First Lieutenant (now Captain) in the United States Marine Corps. And a genuine hero, the Secretary of the Navy said so.
At 29 Palms in California Brian Chontosh was presented with the Navy Cross, the second highest award for combat bravery the United States can bestow.
That's a big deal. But you won't see it on the network news tonight
And all you'll read in Brian's hometown newspaper is two paragraphs of nothing. The odd fact about the American media in this war is that it's not covering the American military. The most plugged-in nation in the world is receiving virtually no true information about what it's warriors are doing.
Oh, sure, there's a body count. We know how many Americans have fallen. And we see those same casket pictures day in and day out.
And we're almost on a first-name basis with the jerks who abused the Iraqi prisoners. And we know all about improvised explosive devices and how we lost Fallujah and what Arab public-opinion polls say about us and how the world hates us. We get a non-stop feed of gloom and doom but we don't hear about the heroes. The incredibly brave GIs who honorably do their duty. The ones our grandparents would have carried on their shoulders down Fifth Avenue ..
The ones we completely ignore, like Brian Chontosh. It was on the march into Baghdad. Brian Chontosh was a platoon leader rolling up Highway 1 in a humvee.
When all hell broke loose, ambush city. The young Marines were being cut to ribbons. Mortars, machine guns, rocket propelled grenades.And the kid out of Churchville was in charge. It was do or die and it was up to him. So he moved to the side of his column, looking for a way to lead his men to safety. As he tried to poke a hole through the Iraqi line his humvee came under direct enemy machine gun fire. It was fish in a barrel and the Marines were the fish. And Brian Chontosh gave the order to attack...
He told his driver to floor the Humvee directly at the machine gun emplacement that was firing at them. And he had the guy on top with the 50 cal unload on them.
Within moments there were Iraqis slumped across their machine guns and Chontosh was still advancing, ordering his driver now to take the Humvee directly into the Iraqi trench that was attacking his Marines.
Over into the battlement the Humvee went and out the door Brian Chontosh bailed, carrying an M16, a Beretta M9 and 228 years of Marine Corps pride.
And he ran along the trench, with its mortars and riflemen, machine guns and grenadiers. And he killed them all. He fought with the M16 until it was out of ammo. Then he fought with the Beretta until it was out of ammo. Then he picked up a dead man's AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo.
Then he picked up another dead man's AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo. At one point he even fired a discarded Iraqi RPG into an enemy cluster, sending attackers flying with its grenade explosion.
When he was done Brian Chontosh had cleared 200 yards of entrenched Iraqis from his platoon's flank. He had killed more than 20 and wounded at least as many more.
But that's probably not how he would tell it. He would probably merely say that his Marines were in trouble, and he got them out of trouble. Ooh-rah, and drive on.
"By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, 1st Lt. Chontosh reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."
That's what the citation says. And that's what nobody will hear.That's what doesn't seem to be making the evening news.
Accounts of American valor are dismissed by the press as propaganda, yet accounts of American difficulties are heralded as objectivity. It makes you wonder if the role of the media is to inform or to depress - to report or to deride. To tell the truth, or to feed us lies.
But I guess it doesn't matter. We're going to turn out all right as long as men like Brian Chontosh wear our uniform.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company A, 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division.
Place and date: Near Bastogne, Belgium, 11 January 1945.
Archer T. “John” Gammon, son of Walter Ashby Gammon and Cordie Sue Evans Gammon, was born September 11, 1918, about six miles north of Chatham, Virginia. Until January 1942 he grew up and worked on the family farm; then, with his parents, he moved to Danville and became a textile worker.
Through Pittsylvania County's Selective Service Board Number 1 in Chatham, he was inducted into the Army at Roanoke, Virginia, March 21, 1942. He was one of four brothers and a sister who served in the armed forces during World War II. After training in Arkansas and California, he was sent to France via Glasgow, Scotland, in July 1944. He was made a Staff Sergeant five months later.
Near Bastogne, Belgium, Jaunary 11, 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge, he led a platoon of Company A, 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division, through hip-deep snow up two hundred yards of open hillside. When his unit was pinned down by German fire from the strategic woodland which was its objective, he advanced alone and disrupted the enemy's resistance. Singlehandedly, with rifle and grenades he silenced two machine guns, killed nine Germans, and forced a Tiger Royal tank and supporting infantry into retreat. Having cleared the woods, he was struck, at a range within twenty-five yards, by a direct hit from the armored vehicle's eight-eight millimeter gun and was instantly killed. His relentless and daring attack, in complete disregard for all thoughts of personal safety, enabled his platoon to continue its advance.
Gammon had previously been awarded the Bronze Star. His final incident of valor was the basis for his receiving posthumously the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Citation: He charged 30 yards through hip-deep snow to knock out a machinegun and its 3-man crew with grenades, saving his platoon from being decimated and allowing it to continue its advance from an open field into some nearby woods. The platoon's advance through the woods had only begun when a machinegun supported by riflemen opened fire and a Tiger Royal tank sent 88mm. shells screaming at the unit from the left flank. S/Sgt. Gammon, disregarding all thoughts of personal safety, rushed forward, then cut to the left, crossing the width of the platoon's skirmish line in an attempt to get within grenade range of the tank and its protecting foot troops. Intense fire was concentrated on him by riflemen and the machinegun emplaced near the tank. He charged the automatic weapon, wiped out its crew of 4 with grenades, and, with supreme daring, advanced to within 25 yards of the armored vehicle, killing 2 hostile infantrymen with rifle fire as he moved forward. The tank had started to withdraw, backing a short distance, then firing, backing some more, and then stopping to blast out another round, when the man whose single-handed relentless attack had put the ponderous machine on the defensive was struck and instantly killed by a direct hit from the Tiger Royal's heavy gun. By his intrepidity and extreme devotion to the task of driving the enemy back no matter what the odds, S/Sgt. Gammon cleared the woods of German forces, for the tank continued to withdraw, leaving open the path for the gallant squad leader's platoon.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Just a note, in 2001, while working on the St. John's River Ferry as the lead deckhand, I spotted a car driving on board with a Medal of Honor License Plate. Once we were secure and under way across the river I went up to the car tapped on the window, introduced myself as a Navy Veteran, the son of a World War II vet, and I asked him if he would grant me the honor of shaking my hand. An obvious gentleman in his 80's, he smiled, and said he would be honored to shake the hand of another vet. he was soft spoken but, you could see in his eyes he kept the secrets of that fateful day which in his own words "wasn't nothing to brag about". I looked up his citation that day when I got home, I looked up the facts behind the battle, and realized how lucky this country is to have had and to still have men (and yes women) of his character protecting us. I just learned of his passing, and I will always remember his firm but gentle handshake and the quiet resolution of a man who believed he did nothing more than what was expected of him, and didn't consider himself a hero, because the real heroes were those left behind in foreign graves or eternally resting in a deep blue sea. Thank you Major Pope, I know that God has another leatherneck to guard the gates of heaven.
Major Everett Parker Pope (July 16, 1919–July 16, 2009) was a United States Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his conspicuous gallantry on Peleliu in September 1944 while leading his men in an assault on a strategic hill, and for holding it, with rocks and bare fists when ammunition ran low, against Japanese suicide attacks.
Pope was born on July 16, 1919 in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of Laurence Everett Pope and Ruth Parker Pope. He later moved to North Quincy, where he graduated from North Quincy High School in 1936. He attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and excelled in both academics and athletics. He was the captain of the state-champion tennis team and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Shortly after graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in French in June 1941, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
In about 1942, Pope married his high school sweetheart, Eleanor Hawkins. The couple had two sons, Laurence E. and Ralph H. Pope.
After basic training, Pope attended Officer Candidate School and, on November 1, 1941, was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve. He trained at Quantico, Virginia, and New River, North Carolina, prior to going overseas in June 1942 with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. On August 7, 1942, as the leader of a machine gun platoon, he participated in the landing and action at Guadalcanal.
In 1943, he was transferred to Melbourne, Australia with his unit. Later, he again went into combat, as a company commander with the 1st Marine Regiment, in the Cape Gloucester, New Britain campaign, from December 1943 to April 1944. In the mopping-up operations which followed, he led a 14-man patrol which in one day killed 20 and captured seven of the enemy during a 12-mile trek over jungle trails.
From September 12, 1944 to September 30, 1944, he took part in action in the Peleliu campaign during which he acted with "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty", and for which he would later be awarded the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart. Although wounded in action on September 20, he returned to duty the next day, and remained overseas until November 1944.
Pope was promoted to major in January 1945 and assigned for one year as a student in the Japanese language course at Yale University. On July 16, 1946, he was assigned an inactive duty status in the Marine Corps, and returned to his home and private employment in Massachusetts. There he became affiliated with the Marine Corps Reserve and commanded the 2nd Infantry Battalion, USMCR, Hingham, Massachusetts, until August 1950, when he was called to active duty with his battalion upon the outbreak of the Korean War. He served as Executive Officer of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, until September 1951, when he was released to inactive duty and, shortly thereafter, resigned his commission in the Marine Corps.
Medal of Honor action
On September 20, 1944, Captain Pope and his company set out to storm Hill 154, a steep, barren, coral hill protruding from the face of Suicide Ridge, according to a field dispatch from TSgt Joseph L. Alli of Buffalo, New York, a Marine Corps Combat Correspondent. From almost point-blank range, Japanese mortars and field guns opened up on them from adjoining peaks on Suicide Ridge. Pope and his men took Hill 154 at dusk after hours of bloody fighting which nearly annihilated the group.
Forced to deploy his men thinly, he nevertheless determined to hold his ground for the night. Immediately after darkness fell, the Japanese started to attack, first in small infiltrating bands, and, when these units failed, in groups of 20 to 25 who tried storming the hill. Each time, the Marines opened fire with everything they had — one light machine gun, several Tommy guns and rifles, and a limited supply of hand grenades. When the grenades ran low, they hurled rocks. "We would throw three or four rocks, then a grenade. The Japanese didn't know which were which," one Marine said. By sunrise the Marines were beating off the enemy with bare fists and hurling ammunition boxes at them. Finally only eight riflemen remained. When daylight brought deadly fire, Pope was ordered to withdraw.
For these actions, Pope was formally presented with the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman during a ceremony in 1945. It was Truman's first Medal of Honor presentation, and he told Pope that he would rather have the medal than be president.
Medal of Honor Citation
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
CAPTAIN EVERETT P. POPE
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Commanding Officer of Company C, First Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu Island, Palau Group, on 19-20 September, 1944. Subjected to point-blank cannon fire which caused heavy casualties and badly disorganized his company while assaulting a steep coral hill, Captain Pope rallied his men and gallantly led them to the summit in the face of machine-gun, mortar, and sniper fire. Forced by wide-spread hostile attack to deploy the remnants of his company thinly in order to hold the ground won, and with his machine-guns out of action and insufficient water and ammunition, he remained on the exposed hill with twelve men and one wounded officer, determined to hold through the night. Attacked continuously with grenades, machine-guns, and rifles from three sides and twice subjected to suicidal charges during the night, he and his valiant men fiercely beat back or destroyed the enemy, resorting to hand-to-hand combat as the supply of ammunition dwindled and still maintaining his lines with his eight remaining riflemen when daylight brought more deadly fire and he was ordered to withdraw. His valiant leadership against devastating odds while protecting the units below from heavy Japanese attack reflects the highest credit upon Captain Pope and the United States Naval Service
/S/ FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps. Major Henry T. Elrod was born on September 27, 1905, in Turner County, Georgia. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in December, 1927, and was appointed a Marine second lieutenant in February,1931. He attended the University of Georgia and Yale University prior to his entry into the Marine Corps. Following over a year at the Marine Corps Basic School in Philadelphia and at the Marine Barracks there as a student aviator, Lieutenant Elrod was ordered to the Naval Station at Pensacola. Here he served as a company officer at the Naval Station, and as student aviator. In February, 1935, he won his wings and, as a Marine Aviator, was transferred to Quantico, where he served with a Marine aircraft unit until January, 1938. In addition to his other duties, he was squadron school, personnel, and welfare officer.
In July, 1938, Elrod went to San Diego for duty at the Naval Air Station and served as squadron material, parachute, and personnel officer, until January, 1941, when he was detached to the Hawaiian area.
He arrived at Wake a short time before the hostilities commenced and was one of the twelve pilots who flew the Marine planes onto the island. He was killed in action defending Wake Island against the invading Japanese on December 23, 1941.
During the defense of Wake, Major Elrod repeatedly displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty. On the 12th of December he single-handedly attacked a flight of 22 enemy planes and shot down two. On several flights he executed low altitude bombing and strafing runs on enemy ships, and became the first man to sink a major warship with small caliber bombs delivered from a fighter-type aircraft.
When his plane was destroyed by hostile fire he organized a unit of ground troops into a beach defense and repulsed repeated Japanese attacks until he fell mortally wounded.
He earned the Medal of Honor during World War II while serving as Captain, USMC, at Wake Island, on December 8-23, 1941 during the initial Japanese invasion of that Island.
On November 8, 1946, his widow was presented with the Medal of Honor, posthumously awarded to her husband for his heroic actions during the last bitter days of the defense of Wake.
Major Elrod was initially buried on Wake Island, but was reinterred in Section 12 of Arlington National Cemetery, Fort Myer, Virginia, in October 1947.
Medal of Honor Citation:
Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 27 September 1905, Rebecca, Ga. Entered service at: Ashburn, Ga. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to Marine Fighting Squadron 211, during action against enemy Japanese land, surface and aerial units at Wake Island, 8 to 23 December 1941. Engaging vastly superior forces of enemy bombers and warships on 9 and 12 December, Capt. Elrod shot down 2 of a flight of 22 hostile planes and, executing repeated bombing and strafing runs at extremely low altitude and close range, succeeded in inflicting deadly damage upon a large Japanese vessel, thereby sinking the first major warship to be destroyed by small caliber bombs delivered from a fighter-type aircraft. When his plane was disabled by hostile fire and no other ships were operative, Capt. Elrod assumed command of 1 flank of the line set up in defiance of the enemy landing and, conducting a brilliant defense, enabled his men to hold their positions and repulse intense hostile fusillades to provide covering fire for unarmed ammunition carriers. Capturing an automatic weapon during 1 enemy rush in force, he gave his own firearm to 1 of his men and fought on vigorously against the Japanese. Responsible in a large measure for the strength of his sector's gallant resistance, on 23 December, Capt. Elrod led his men with bold aggressiveness until he fell, mortally wounded. His superb skill as a pilot, daring leadership and unswerving devotion to duty distinguished him among the defenders of Wake Island, and his valiant conduct reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.