SM 1 Douglas Albert Munro

2018-4-20 Munro

Of the 3,498 Medal of Honor recipients in American history, only one was from the U.S. Coast Guard: Signalman 1st Class Douglas Albert Munro. On this day 74 years ago, Munro sacrificed himself at the Matanikau River at Point Cruz in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, while saving hundreds of his fellow service members.

In recognition, Munro was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his “extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty.” Munro remains the only member of the Coast Guard to earn this distinction.

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Munro grew up in South Cle Elum, Washington. He enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1939. Upon hearing that the Coast Guard had been ordered to man transport vessels in the Pacific during World War II, Munro pleaded with his executive officer to allow him to transfer to this mission. He was eventually successful and was assigned to transport duty supporting Marine landings at Guadalcanal during the Solomon Islands campaign.

On Sept. 27, 1942, nearly 500 Marines were tasked with crossing the Matanikau River at Point Cruz at Guadalcanal. However, the Marines faced imminent danger at the hands of a larger and more heavily armed than anticipated Japanese force.

Munro volunteered to lead the evacuation mission as the Marines were pinned in a vulnerable position by advancing Japanese forces. Munro led a group of small boats charged with protecting 24 Higgins landing craft that were attempting to extract the Marines.

As machine gun fire from the land continued, Munro positioned his Coast Guard craft between the Japanese and the Higgins boats to provide cover for the evacuation. Armed with only two small guns on his plywood boat, Munro successfully held off the Japanese attack, enabling nearly 500 Marines, including 25 wounded, to escape.

As the last Marines were safely under way and while turning back to rescue a grounded Higgins boat, Munro was fatally wounded. Still thinking of those Marines he was charged to protect, his final words were: “Did they get off?”

Munro exemplified the honor, valor, and patriotism that United States Coast Guard service men and women display in defending our nation’s waters. In honoring Munro, we recognize the Coast Guard’s vital role in protecting America’s maritime security.

Munro embodied the Coast Guard’s motto, semper paratus (“always ready”), in his heroic, decisive actions in Guadalcanal. Recognizing the crucial security the Coast Guard provides our nation, Congress and the president should strive to ensure this sea service remains always ready.

We honor you, Douglas Munro.

(#Repost @the Daily Signal)

T/SGT Max Thompson

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Max Thompson was born in Bethel, North Carolina on July 21, 1922. He was working in a paper mill when he was drafted into the United States Army on November 14, 1942 at age 20. His service began at Camp Croft, South Carolina.

Thompson went to war as an infantryman with the 1st Infantry Division. As a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, he hit Omaha Beach on D-Day and then fought across France with his comrades.

In October 1944, the 1st Infantry Division was one of the units assigned to breach the Siegfried Line and seize the German city of Aachen. Seventy years ago, Sergeant Max Thompson, a squad leader, was evacuating casualties when he saw that a neighboring platoon had been overrun by a German counterattack.

Thompson used every weapon at his disposal – an abandoned machine gun, a bazooka, a Browning Automatic Rifle – and with incredible personal courage stemmed the Nazi advance alone. His Medal of Honor was presented to him the following summer.

We honor you, Max Thompson.

(#Repost @Their Finest Hour)

MSG Roy P Benavidez

2018-3-29 Benevidas

Today, I am remembering and honoring my dad on National Medal of Honor Day. The Medal of Honor is our nation’s highest award given in the military. It is EARNED, not won.

My dad was often asked if he would do it all over again and his answer was always this, “There will never be enough paper to print the money or enough gold in Fort Knox for me to have, to keep me from doing what I did. I’m proud to be an American and even prouder that I earned the privilege to wear the Green Beret. I live by the motto: Duty, Honor, Country.”

Thank YOU, to all who served and continue to serve. YOU are what makes America great! My dad stood along side you, and kneeled for the cross.

His Medal of Honor official citation reads:

“On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft damage.

Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team. Prior to reaching the team’s position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members.

He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team’s position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy’s fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the leader’s body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter.

Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, re-instilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy’s fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft.

On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed from additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded.

Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant Benavidez’ gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.”

We honor you, Roy Benavidez.

(Submission by: Miah Parry. Written by: Yvette Benavidez Garcia. #Repost @Hall of Valor)

 

SP5 James McCloughan

2018-3-25 McCloughan

McCloughan spent his childhood in Bangor, Michigan, where his parents moved to take over a family farm. It was there that he found his passion for sports and music. The consummate athlete, McCloughan was a four-sport varsity athlete at Bangor High School and went on to wrestle, play football and baseball at Olivet College. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and a teaching certificate in 1968, McCloughan accepted a teaching and coaching position with South Haven Public Schools in Michigan. Three months later, McCloughan was drafted into the Army at the age of 22.

McCloughan reported to basic training in September 1968 at Fort Knox, Kentucky. His training in athletics and coaching gave him a foundational knowledge of sports medicine, and his leaders took notice. Two months after arriving at basic training, he was assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to complete advanced training as a medical specialist. On his last day of training, McCloughan received deployment orders to Vietnam. He was assigned as a combat medic with Company C, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. His Vietnam tour was from March 1969 to March 1970.

The company air assaulted into an area near Tam Ky and Nui Yon Hill. On 13 May, with complete disregard for his life, he ran 100 meters in an open field through heavy fire to rescue a comrade too injured to move and carried him to safety. That same day, 2nd Platoon was ordered to search the area near Nui Yon Hill when the platoon was ambushed by a large North Vietnamese Army force and sustained heavy casualties. With complete disregard for his life and personal safety, Private First Class McCloughan led two Americans into the safety of a trench while being wounded by shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade. He ignored a direct order to stay back, and braved an enemy assault while moving into the “kill zone” on four more occasions to extract wounded comrades. He treated the injured, prepared the evacuation, and though bleeding heavily from shrapnel wounds on his head and entire body, refused evacuation to safety in order to remain at the battle site with his fellow soldiers who were heavily outnumbered by the North Vietnamese Army forces.

On 14 May, the platoon was again ordered to move out towards Nui Yon Hill. Private First Class McCloughan was wounded a second time by small arms fire and shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade while rendering aid to two soldiers in an open rice paddy. In the final phases of the attack, two companies from 2nd North Vietnamese Army Division and an element of 700 soldiers from a Viet Cong regiment descended upon Charlie Company’s position on three sides. Private First Class McCloughan, again with complete disregard for his life, went into the crossfire numerous times throughout the battle to extract the wounded soldiers, while also fighting the enemy. His relentless and courageous actions inspired and motivated his comrades to fight for their survival. When supplies ran low, Private First Class McCloughan volunteered to hold a blinking strobe light in an open area as a marker for a nighttime re-supply drop. He remained steadfast while bullets landed all around him and rocket-propelled grenades flew over his prone, exposed body. During the morning darkness of 15 May, Private First Class McCloughan knocked out a rocket-propelled grenade position with a grenade, fought and eliminated enemy soldiers, treated numerous casualties, kept two critically-wounded soldiers alive through the night, and organized the dead and wounded for evacuation at daylight. His timely and courageous actions were instrumental in saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. Private First Class McCloughan’s personal heroism, professional competence, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Americal Division, and the United States Army.

We honor you, James McCloughan.

(#Repost @US Army and Hall of Valor)

MajGen James E. Livingston

While thousands of heroes have emerged since the inception of the U.S. Marine Corps on November 10, 1775, James E. Livingston has earned the title, “Leatherneck Legend.”  Growing up in the 1940’s on a 3,000 acre dirt farm in Towns, Georgia, Livingston learned the importance of hard work and determination at a young age.  After college, Livingston received an Army draft card, but instead chose to enlist in the Marines in 1962. Livingston’s career advanced through the ranks of command to Captain, and he was ordered to the Republic of Vietnam as Commanding Officer of Company E, the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade, known simply as E Company, in 1968.

With one devastating battle after another in Dai Do, E Company was sent in to assist another Marine company, which had been isolated the night before, when enemy forces seized the village. Skillfully employing screening agents, Livingston maneuvered his men to assault positions.  Despite being wounded twice by grenade fragments, Livingston refused medical treatment, and instead shouted words of encouragement to his men as they continued across the 500 meters of open rice fields, where they destroyed over 100 mutually supporting bunkers, driving the remaining enemy from their position and relieving the pressure on the stranded Marines. Having reestablished contact with the surrounded Marine Company, Livingston then learned of a third Marine Company leading an attack on nearby Dinh To village. Marshalling his resources, Livingston consolidated the two companies and led a support effort to halt the aggressive enemy counter attack from Dinh To. After being wounded a third time and rendered immobile, he remained in the combat zone and supervised the evacuation of these men.

Three days of a relentless battle of attrition with 800 Marines battling 10,000 North Vietnamese soldiers was finally coming to a victorious end for the United States. Livingston was dragged from the battlefield by two Marines as he continued to shoot at the enemy. Only after he was assured of his fellow Marines’ safety did Livingston allow himself to be evacuated.

For his gallantry, bravery and selflessness, he was awarded the Medal of Honor from President Richard Nixon in 1970. After 33 years of service, Livingston hung up his service uniform. Taking the expression: “Once a Marine, Always a Marine” to heart, Livingston looked to write the next chapter of service to America through his public service career. He authored the novel: “Noble Warrior: The Story of Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston.” He also serves on numerous volunteer boards and speaks on leadership and service to country.

We honor you, James E. Livingston.

(#Repost @Library of Congress Blogs)

1LT James Alton Gardner

2018-3-3 Gardner

James Gardner was born in Dyersburg, Tennessee on 7 February 1943. He was recruited as a football player for West Point by Coach Tony Bullotta along with a number of other promising talents from Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas. He played plebe football as an undersized interior lineman/fullback. He was most notable for his humor, red hair and foot-speed.

Jim attended Dyersburg High School in Dyersburg, Tennessee where he was a star athlete, in the 4-H and sometimes a prankster. Janie Putnam, Jim’s 4-H advisor, recalls a time when rounding up the energetic boys after swimming in a lake observed Jim staying with his friend, Bert, who had reduced swimming ability. Jim accompanied the young boy safely to shore and Janie believes that but for Jim’s action his friend would not have been able to return to shore. It was a good thing Jim stayed with Bert. Burt returned the favor some time later by introducing Jim to his first cousin, Joella, the girl Jim eventually married.

In 1964 Jim joined OCS Class 4-64, 52nd Company (OC), 5th Student Battalion, Fort Benning, Georgia where he excelled in sports and military aptitude. He “maxed” the PT test … twice … and was an excellent marksman with the M-14. He was a star on the intramural flag 4-64 football team (football at OCS was anything but “flag” with the Benning games being just short of semi-pro) justifying the talent Coach Bullotta saw in him 5 years before.

After Airborne training Jim joined the 101st Airborne Division. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 327th Infantry, 1st Brigade in Vietnam. Jim was in operation Gibraltar and shortly thereafter organized and was the first commander of the 1/327 Infantry’s elite Tiger Force. He led the Tiger Force with skill and without fear or concern for his personal safety while always concerned for the safety and well-being of his paratroopers. On his 23rd birthday, 7 February 1966, Jim distinguished himself in combat earning the Medal of Honor while leading his Tiger Force near My Canh. Jim’s platoon sergeant, Phill Belden, wrapped Jim’s body in a poncho liner and then wrapped himself in one next to him and watched over his friend and leader all night until the medevacs were able to land in the morning. Jack Easton was not surprised to hear Jim distinguished himself as he considered Jim one of the most “gun-ho” OCS candidates on record.

The official citation reads: “1st Lt. Gardner’s platoon was advancing to relieve a company of the 1st Battalion that had been pinned down for several hours by a numerically superior enemy force in the village of My Canh, Vietnam. The enemy occupied a series of strongly fortified bunker positions which were mutually supporting and expertly concealed. Approaches to the position were well covered by an integrated pattern of fire including automatic weapons, machine guns and mortars. Air strikes and artillery placed on the fortifications had little effect. 1st Lt. Gardner’s platoon was to relieve the friendly company by encircling and destroying the enemy force. Even as it moved to begin the attack, the platoon was under heavy enemy fire. During the attack, the enemy fire intensified. Leading the assault and disregarding his own safety, 1st Lt. Gardner charged through a withering hail of fire across an open rice paddy. On reaching the first bunker he destroyed it with a grenade and without hesitation dashed to the second bunker and eliminated it by tossing a grenade inside. Then, crawling swiftly along the dike of a rice paddy, he reached the third bunker. Before he could arm a grenade, the enemy gunner leaped forth, firing at him. 1st Lt. Gardner instantly returned the fire and killed the enemy gunner at a distance of 6 feet. Following the seizure of the main enemy position, he reorganized the platoon to continue the attack. Advancing to the new assault position, the platoon was pinned down by an enemy machine gun emplaced in a fortified bunker. 1st Lt. Gardner immediately collected several grenades and charged the enemy position, firing his rifle as he advanced to neutralize the defenders. He dropped a grenade into the bunker and vaulted beyond. As the bunker blew up, he came under fire again. Rolling into a ditch to gain cover, he moved toward the new source of fire. Nearing the position, he leaped from the ditch and advanced with a grenade in one hand and firing his rifle with the other. He was gravely wounded just before he reached the bunker, but with a last valiant effort he staggered forward and destroyed the bunker, and its defenders with a grenade. Although he fell dead on the rim of the bunker, his extraordinary actions so inspired the men of his platoon that they resumed the attack and completely routed the enemy. 1st Lt. Gardner’s conspicuous gallantry were in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.”

We honor you, James Alton Gardner.

(#Repost @West-Point.org)

1LT Richard Thomas Shea Jr

2018-2-19 Shea

USMA Class of 1952, First Lieutenant Shea was the executive officer of Company A, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. On July 8, 1953 his company was attacked at night by overwhelmingly superior forces at “Pork Chop Hill” near Sokkogae, North Korea. He voluntarily organized a group to defend the most threatened area, and held off repeated attacks. Later, he singlehandedly assaulted a machine-gun emplacement and fought hand to hand until mortally wounded. He lived in Norfolk County and graduated from Churchland High School in Norfolk County. He was Class of 1948 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and entered West Point.

We honor you, Richard Shea Jr.

(#Repost @Korean War Project Remembrance)