Medal of Honor Recipients
Captain Robert "Bobbie" Brown
Rank and organization: Captain, U S. Army, Company C, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Crucifix Hill, Aachen, Germany, October 8, 1944. Entered service at: Atlanta, Ga. Born: September 2, 1903, Dublin, Ga. G.O. No.: 74, September 1, 1945.
Bobbie Evan Brown, Jr. is the sort of man that inspired a nation during World War II. His story is one not just of courage and duty, but of a degree of sheer mental and physical toughness that we should all aspire to.
By the onset of World War II, Brown was a First Sergeant in the 2nd Armored Division. During peacetime, he established himself as both a soldier and athlete, making the all-Army football team and scoring 38 victories in the boxing ring. While serving in North Africa, he was transferred to the 1st Infantry and promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in time to lead his new platoon at Omaha Beach in Normandy. When his CO (company commander) was killed in action in France, Brown took command of his unit.
The Battle of Crucifix Hill on October 8, 1944 saw Brown and his unit responsible for the destruction of 7 of the 43 known bunkers and pillboxes on the hill. Following an early morning airstrike, Brown and his men advanced about 150 yards before coming under heavy fire, forcing them into cover. Brown advanced on the first position alone after equipping himself with pole and satchel charges, crawling into position and destroying the first bunker with a satchel. He returned to his unit, resupplied, and set out again.
Under both machine gun and mortar fire from the Germans, Brown made his way to the next pillbox with the help of support fire from his men. There, he used a pole charge to open an existing hole enough to deploy another satchel, which disabled the second position. Upon returning to his unit again for more explosives, Brown noticed that he had been wounded in the hip and was bleeding profusely.
Disregarding the wound, Brown set out for pillbox 20. Likely the most heavily fortified of the positions on Crucifix Hill, complete with 6-foot thick concrete walls. Undaunted, Brown crawled into position along a communications trench and threw two charges through a steel door, disabling the bunker.
Brown continued to fight alongside his men, sustaining two more wounds as he commanded and organized his troops, set out on reconnaissance, and several times intentionally drew fire in order to locate enemy positions. Only after two thwarted enemy counter attacks when his unit's positions was secured did he allow his wounds to be treated.
Robert "Bobbie" Brown was awarded the Medal of Honor on August 23, 1945, after continuing to fight alongside his unit despite additional wounds sustained throughout the war.
Location of Crucifix Hill
Sgt. Thomas Baker
I wouldn't ordinarily do this, but there's nothing I can say about Sgt. Baker that the official Medal of Honor citation doesn't do justice. His story is absolutely one of the most impressive and inspirational I've ever heard.
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty at Saipan, Mariana Islands, 19 June to 7 July 1944. When his entire company was held up by fire from automatic weapons and small-arms fire from strongly fortified enemy positions that commanded the view of the company, Sgt. (then Pvt.) Baker voluntarily took a bazooka and dashed alone to within 100 yards of the enemy. Through heavy rifle and machinegun fire that was directed at him by the enemy, he knocked out the strong point, enabling his company to assault the ridge. Some days later while his company advanced across the open field flanked with obstructions and places of concealment for the enemy, Sgt. Baker again voluntarily took up a position in the rear to protect the company against surprise attack and came upon 2 heavily fortified enemy pockets manned by 2 officers and 10 enlisted men which had been bypassed. Without regard for such superior numbers, he unhesitatingly attacked and killed all of them. Five hundred yards farther, he discovered 6 men of the enemy who had concealed themselves behind our lines and destroyed all of them. On 7 July 1944, the perimeter of which Sgt. Baker was a part was attacked from 3 sides by from 3,000 to 5,000 Japanese. During the early stages of this attack, Sgt. Baker was seriously wounded but he insisted on remaining in the line and fired at the enemy at ranges sometimes as close as 5 yards until his ammunition ran out. Without ammunition and with his own weapon battered to uselessness from hand-to-hand combat, he was carried about 50 yards to the rear by a comrade, who was then himself wounded. At this point Sgt. Baker refused to be moved any farther stating that he preferred to be left to die rather than risk the lives of any more of his friends. A short time later, at his request, he was placed in a sitting position against a small tree. Another comrade, withdrawing, offered assistance. Sgt. Baker refused, insisting that he be left alone and be given a soldier's pistol with its remaining 8 rounds of ammunition. When last seen alive, Sgt. Baker was propped against a tree, pistol in hand, calmly facing the foe. Later Sgt. Baker's body was found in the same position, gun empty, with 8 Japanese lying dead before him. His deeds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army."
Col. Robert L. Howard
As a Green Beret with the MACV-SOG, Howard was nominated for the Medal of Honor on three separate occasions. Though two of the actions resulting in the nominations were downgraded to the Silver Star and Distinguished Service Cross due to the covert nature of the operations, Howard earned his Medal of Honor as a Sergeant First Class in Vietnam.
Howard led a rescue mission for a missing American soldier, landing in enemy-controlled territory with his platoon and being immediately set upon by two companies of NVA troops. His weapon was destroyed and he was wounded by shrapnel during the initial assault, Howard was left unable to walk. Seeing his platoon leader wounded and exposed, Howard crawled through enemy fire and administered first aid to the PL, despite one of his magazine pouches being struck by a round which detonated several magazines of his ammunition.
After dragging the wounded officer back to the platoon area, Howard continued to crawl among his fellow soldiers administering first aid and directing fire for another three and a half hours. Finally able to bring in rescue helicopters, Howard personally supervised the recovery of his wounded men and refused to be extracted until every other member of his unit was safely aboard the choppers.
Most Awarded Medals of Honor by War
World War II
World War I
Lt. Audie L. Murphy
What list of Medal of Honor recipients would be complete without Audie Murphy? He received every major combat award for valor offered by the United States military, and was additionally awarded by France and Belgium for his actions during World War II.
Though the stories of how Lt. Murphy obtained some of his other awards are astonishing, he earned his Medal of Honor at Holtzwihr. Over the preceding days of the Colmar Offensive, Murphy's unit had been cut down to 19 men (including himself), with 102 killed or wounded. At the onset of a German assault including six Panzers and roughly 250 infantry, Murphy ordered his men to fall back to a prepared position while he remained at his forward command post along with two tank destroyers.
Murphy continued to direct artillery and fire on the encroaching enemy even as both destroyers were disabled. When he ran out of ammunition, Murphy made his way to a now burning tank destroyer, manning its .50 caliber machine gun. For over an hour, Murphy assaulted the German infantry with machine gun fire and artillery until conditions allowed for American aircraft to begin strafing runs and put a stop to the German attack. Wounded in the leg, Murphy nonetheless returned to his men and helped to organize a counterattack which drove the Germans back and allowed the American company to retake its previous position. It is estimated that Murphy killed 50 enemy troops in his one-man counter-offensive.
This is just a few examples of the remarkable heroism shown by American soldiers throughout our history. I write this because no amount of praise is too much for these men and women who continue to risk their very lives in battle to this day.
I had the pleasure of serving with soldiers who will never receive enough praise for who they are, what they've done, and what they continue to do. In a world where war is defined more by politics and the news media than anything, they sacrificed so that those at home should not have to, and it is an honor I do not deserve to have been counted among them.
So, to all of the veterans in America who served, continue to serve, and will serve in the future, I thank you.