[Panel 1:]African American Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor takes its place in our country as the highest award for military valor. The honor, awarded by the President in the name of Congress, may only be accorded an individual who in action involving actual conflict with an enemy, "distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity in action, at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty."
The history of this medal, the deeds for which it has been awarded and the men who have earned it are of great interest to the nation these men served. While war is ugly and tragic, there is no question that many individuals display outstanding courage and valor and willingness to make sacrifice when called to battle. Only supreme acts of heroism are recognized by the award of the Medal of Honor.
(The African American Medal of Honor Memorial Association acknowledges the support of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in establishing the African American Medal of Honor display at the Pentagon—February 19, 1997—National V.F.W. Headquarters)
[Panel 2:] Civil War, U.S. Army: 1861-1865
1863Sergeant William H. Carney, Company C. 54th Massachusetts Colored [sic] Infantry, born in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Carney was the first African - American soldier to earn the MOH. He was cited for valor on June 18, 1863, during the Battle of Fort Wagner, South Carolina, in which he carried the colors and led a charge to the parapet after the standard bearer had been felled by rifle fire during the battle. Carney was twice severely wounded. His medal was issued on May 23, 1900.
1864[Fourteen] of the following men received their awards for valor during the Battle of New Market Heights [a.k.a. Chaffin's (or Chapin's) Farm] on September 29, 1864. With the exception of Sergeant James H. Harris and Sergeant Major Thomas Hawkins, all were awarded their MOH citation April 6, 1865.
Private William H. Barnes, Company C, 38th U.S. Colored Troops; born St. Mary's County, Maryland.
First Sergeant Powhatan Beaty, Company G, 5th U.S. Colored Troops; born Richmond, Virginia.
First Sergeant James H. Bronson, Company D, 5th U.S. Colored Troops; born Indiana County, Pennsylvania.
Sergeant Major Christian A. Fleetwood, 4th U.S. Colored Troops; born Baltimore, Maryland.
Private James Gardiner, Company I, U.S. Colored Troops; born Gloucester, Virginia.
Sergeant James H. Harris, Company B, 36th U.S. Colored Troops; born St. Mary's County, Maryland. Sergeant Harris' MOH was issued on February 18, 1874.
Sergeant Alfred B. Hilton, Company H, 4th U.S. Colored Troops; born Harford County, Maryland.
Sergeant Major Milton M. Holland, 5th U.S. Colored Troops; born Austin, Texas.
Corporal Miles James, Company B, 36th U.S. Colored Troops; born Princess Ann County, Virginia.
First Sergeant Alexander Kelly, Company F, 6th U.S. Colored Troops; born Pennsylvania.
First Sergeant Robert Pinn, Company I, 5th U.S. Colored Troops; born Stark County, Ohio.
First Sergeant Edward Ratcliff, Company C, 38th U.S. Colored Troops; born James County, Virginia.
Private Charles Veal , Company D, 4th U.S. Colored Troops; born Portsmouth, Virginia.
Sergeant Major Thomas Hawkins, 6th U.S. Colored Troops; born Cincinnati, Ohio. Cited for valor [at the Battle of Chaffin's Farm, Virginia on September 29, 1864]. MOH was issued on February 8, 1870.
Sergeant Decatur Dorsey, Company B, 39th U.S. Colored Troops; born Howard County, Maryland. Cited [for valor at the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, Virginia] on July 30, 1864 - issued November 8, 1865
Private Bruce Anderson, Company K, 142nd New York Infantry; born Oswego County, NY.
Sergeant Major Milton Murray Holland, 5th U.S. Colored Troops; born Austin, Texas.
[Panel 3:]Navy Medal of Honor Recipients
in the Civil War, 1861-1865
During the Civil War, many African Americans proved themselves as being outstanding fighting men. Not just in the Army, but also in the Navy Forces. These particular men showed outstanding valor in combat.
Robert Blake, U.S.S. Marblehead - on board the U.S.S. Marblehead, off Legarville on the Stono River on December 25, 1863, Blake was instrumental in getting the enemy to abandon its position. His medal was awarded on April 16, 1864.
John Lawson, Landsman, U.S.S. Hartford, flagship of Rear Admiral David Farragut - born in Pennsylvania, he received his MOH on December 31, 1864, for bravery in the attack against Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864. Wounded in the leg, Lawson refused to go below for first aid, remaining at his duty station for the duration of the battle.
James Mifflin, Landsman, U.S.S. Brooklyn - born in Richmond, Virginia, he received his MOH on December 31, 1864, for bravery in the attack against Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864. Mifflin remained steadfast at his post and performed his duties in the powder division throughout the furious action which resulted in the surrender of the prize Rebel ram Tennessee and in the damaging and destruction of the batteries at Fort Morgan.
Both these men [Lawson and Mifflin] showed "marked courage" during the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864, and were awarded the MOH. Wounded in the leg, Lawson refused to go below for first-aid, remaining at his duty station for the duration of the battle.
Joachim Pease, Seaman, U.S.S. Kearsarge - born in Long Island, New York, Pease served as a Seaman on board the U.S.S. Kearsarge, when she destroyed the Alabama off Cherbourg, France, June 19, 1864. Acting as loader on the No. 2. gun during this bitter engagement, Pease exhibited marked coolness and good conduct and was highly recommended by the Divisional Officer for gallantry under fire.
Aaron Anderson, Landsman, U.S.S. Wyandank - Anderson was cited for his valor at Mattox Creek on March 17, 1865. His MOH was awarded on June 22, 1865.
William H. Brown, Landsman, U.S. Navy - born Baltimore, Baltimore County, Maryland in 1836. On board the U.S.S. Brooklyn during successful attacks against Fort Morgan, Rebel gunboats, and the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864; stationed in the immediate vicinity of the shell whips which were twice cleared of men by bursting shells, Brown remained steadfast at his post and performed his duties in the powder division throughout the furious action which resulted in the surrender of the prize Rebel ram Tennessee and in the damaging and destruction of batteries at Fort Morgan. His MOH was awarded on December 31, 1864.
Wilson Brown, Landsman - born Natchez, Adams County Mississippi, 1841, U.S.S. Hartford. On board the flagship U.S.S. Hartford during successful attacks against Fort Morgan, Rebel gunboats and the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay, on August 5, 1864. Knocked unconscious into the hold of the ship when an enemy shellburst fatally wounded a man on the ladder above him, Brown, upon regaining consciousness, promptly returned to the shell whip on the berth deck and zealously continued to perform his duties, although 4 of the 6 men at this station had been either killed or wounded by the enemy's terrific fire. His MOH was awarded on December 31, 1864.
[Panel 4:]Interim Period
1871-1898Seaman: John Davis, U.S. Navy.Born: Kingston, Jamaica, 1854. Serving on board the U.S.S. Trenton, Toulon, France, February 1881, jumping overboard, Davis rescued Augustus Ohlensen, coxswain, from drowning.
Seaman: Alphonse Girandy, U.S. Navy.Born: Guadaloupe, West Indies, 21 January 1868. Serving on board the U.S.S. Petrel, for heroism and gallantry, fearlessly exposing his own life to danger for the saving of others, on the occasion of the fire on board that vessel, March 31, 1901.
Seaman: John Johnson, U.S. Navy.Born: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, 1839. Serving on board the U.S.S. Kansas near Greytown, Nicaragua, April 12, 1872, Johnson displayed great coolness and self-possession at the time Comdr. A. F. Grosman and others were drowning and, by extraordinary heroism and personal exertion, prevented greater loss of life.
Seaman: John Smith. Born: Bermuda, 1884. For jumping overboard from the U.S.S. Shenandoah at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 19, 1880, and rescuing from drowning, James Grady, First Class Fireman.
Seaman: Robert Augustus Sweeney, U.S. Navy. Born: Montserviat, West Indies, February 20, 1853.
Received two awards:
· First Award: Serving on board the U.S.S. Kearsarge at Hampton Roads, VA, October 26, 1881, Sweeney jumped overboard and assisted in saving from drowning a shipmate who had fallen overboard into a strongly running tide.
· Second Award: Serving on board the U.S.S. Yintic at the Navy Yard, New York, December 20, 1883, Sweeney rescued from drowning A. A. George, who had fallen overboard from the U.S.S. Jamestown.
Cooper: William Johnson, U.S. Navy.Born: St. Vincent, West Indies, 1855. Serving on board the U.S.S. Adams at the Navy Yard, Mare Island, Cal., November 14, 1879, Johnson rescued Daniel W. Kloppen, a workman, from drowning.
Ship's Cook First Class: Daniel Atkins, U.S. Navy. Born: Brunswick, VA., November 18, 1866. On board the U.S.S. Cushing, February 11, 1898, showing gallant conduct, Atkins attempted to save the life of the late Ens. Joseph C. Breckenridge, U.S. Navy, who fell overboard at sea from that vessel on this date.
Seaman: Joseph Noil, U.S. Navy. Born: Nova Scotia, Canada, 1841. Serving on board the U.S.S. Powhatan at Norfolk, December 26, 1872, Noil saved Boatswain, J. C. Walton from drowning.
[Panel 5:]Indian Campaigns 1861-1898Sergeant Emanuel Stance, Company F, 9th U.S. Cavalry - born in Carrol County, Louisiana, Stance was cited for valor in the Battle of Kickapoo Springs, Texas. An outstanding Indian Scout, he was awarded his MOH on June 28, 1870.
Sergeant Emanuel Stance, Company F, 9th U.S. Cavalry - born in Carroll County, Louisiana. Stance was cited for valor in the Battle of Kickapoo Springs, Texas. An outstanding Indian Scout, he was awarded his MOH on June 28, 1870.
Corporal Clinton Greaves, Company C, 9th U.S. Cavalry - born in Madison County, Virginia. Greaves was cited for valor in the Battle of Florida Mountain, New Mexico on June 26, 1879. His MOH was issued on June 26.
Sergeant Thomas Boyne, Company C, 9th U.S. Cavalry - born in Prince George County, Maryland. Boyne was cited for bravery in action during two New Mexico battles in 1879. His MOH was issued on January 6, 1880.
Sergeant John Denny, Company B, 9th U.S. Cavalry - born in Big Flats, New York. Denny was cited for removing a wounded comrade to a place of safety while under heavy fire in L[a]s Animas Canyon, Mexico on September 18, 1879. His MOH was issued on November 27, 1894.
Sergeant Henry Johnson, Company F, 9th U.S. Cavalry - born in Boynton, Virginia. Johnson was cited for valor in the Battle of Milk River, Colorado on October 2-5, 1879. His MOH was issued on September 12, 1890.
First Sergeant Moses Williams, Company F, 9th U.S. Cavalry - born in Carrollton, Louisiana. Williams rallied a detachment, skillfully conducted a running fight of 3 or 4 hours, and by his coolness, bravery, and unflinching devotion to duty in standing by his commanding officer in an exposed position under heavy fire from a large party of Indians, saved the lives of at least 3 of his comrades. His MOH was issued on November 12, 1896.
Private Augustus Walley, Company I, 9th U.S. Cavalry - born in Reisterstown, Maryland. Walley was cited for bravery in action in the Battle of Cuchillo Negro Mountains, New Mexico on August 16, 1881. His MOH was issued on October 1, 1890.
Corporal William O. Wilson, Company I, 9th U.S. Cavalry - born in Hagerstown, Maryland. Wilson was cited for bravery in the Sioux Campaign of 1890. His MOH was issued on September 17, 1891.
Sergeant Benjamin Brown, Company C, 24th Infantry Regiment - born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Although shot in the abdomen, in a fight between a Paymaster's escort and robbers, did not leave the field until again wounded through both arms. His MOH was issued on February 19, 1890.
Private Pompey Factor, U.S. Army, Indian Scouts - Pecos River, Texas, April 25, 1875. Born Arkansas, 1845. With three other men, he participated in a charge against 25 hostiles while on a scouting patrol.
Private Adam Paine, U.S. Army, Indian Scouts - born Florida, 1843. Canyon Blanco Tributary of the Red River, Texas, September 26-27, 1874. Rendered invaluable service to Col. R. S. Mackenzie, 4th US Cavalry, during this engagement.
Trumpeter Isaac Payne, U.S. Army, Indian Scouts - born Mexico, 1854. Pecos River, Texas, April 25, 1875. With three other men, he participated in a charge against 25 hostiles while on a scouting patrol.
Sergeant John Ward, U.S. Army, Indian Scouts - born Arkansas, 1847. 24th Infantry. With three other men, he participated in a charge against 25 hostiles while on a scouting patrol.
Sergeant (First Lieutenant) William McBryar, U.S. Army, 10th US Cavalry - born Elizabethtown, North Carolina, 1861. Participated in action in the Arizona Territory.
[Panel 6:]Indian Campaigns: 1871-1890
(continued)The marker features a relief titled: "Sergeant Benjamin Brown and Corporal Isaiah Mays, Heroism in Arizona, 1889." The relief was made by Henry Casselli using a U.S. Army Photograph.
Corporal Isaiah Mays, Company B, 24th U.S. Infantry - born February 16, 1858 in Carters' Bridge, Virginia. Mays was cited for gallantry in the fight between Paymaster Wham's escort and robbers. Mays walked and crawled two miles to a ranch for help. Like Brown, he was awarded his MOH on February 19, 1890.
Sergeant Thomas Shaw, company K. 9th U.S. Cavalry - Born in Covington, Kentucky Shaw was cited for valor in Carrizo Canyon, New Mexico on August 12, 1881. He forced the enemy back after holding his ground in a dangerous position. His MOH was issued on December 7 1890.
Sergeant Brent Woods, Company B, 9th U.S. Cavalry - born in Pulaski County, Kentucky. Woods was cited for valor in New Mexico on August 19, 1881. His MOH was issued on July 12, 1894.
[Panel 7:] Spanish-American War
1898Edward L. Baker, Sergeant Major, 10th U.S. Cavalry - born in Laramie County, Wyoming. Baker left cover under fire and rescued a wounded comrade in Santiago, Cuba on July 1, 1898. His Medal was issued on July 3, 1902.
George H. Wanton - Rank and Organization: Private, Troop M, 10th U.S. Cavalry. Place and Date: at Tayabacoa, Cuba, 30 June 1898. Entered service at: Patterson, NJ. Date of Issue: 23 June 1899. Citation: Voluntarily went ashore in the face of the enemy and aided in the rescue of his wounded comrades; this after several previous attempts at rescue had been frustrated.
William H. Tompkins - Rank and Organization: Private, Troop G, 10th U.S. Cavalry. Place and Date: at Tayabacoa, Cuba, 30 June 1898. Entered service at: Patterson, NJ. Birth: Patterson, N.J. Date of Issue: 23 June 1899. Citation: Voluntarily went ashore in the face of the enemy and aided in the rescue of his wounded comrades; this after several previous attempts at rescue had been frustrated.
Dennis Bell - Rank and Organization: Private, Troop H, 10th U.S. Cavalry. Place and Date: at Tayabacoa, Cuba, 30 June 1898. Entered service at: Washington D.C. Birth: Washington D.C. Date of Issue: 30 June 1899. Citation: Voluntarily went ashore in the face of the enemy and aided in the rescue of his wounded comrades; this after several previous attempts at rescue had been frustrated.
Fitz Lee - Rank and Organization: Private, Troop M, 10th U.S. Cavalry. Place and Date: at Tayabacoa, Cuba, 30 June 1898. Entered service at: Dinwiddie County, Virginia. Birth: Dinwiddie County, Virginia. Date of Issue: 23 June 1899. Citation: Voluntarily went ashore in the face of the enemy and aided in the rescue of his wounded comrades; this after several previous attempts at rescue had been frustrated.
Robert Penn, Fireman First Class, U.S.S. Iowa - born October 10, 1872 in City Point, Virginia. Penn was cited for valor while on board the U.S.S. Iowa off Santiago, Cuba on July 20, 1898. His Medal was awarded on December 14, 1898.
WWI - U.S. Army
(Posthumous Award, April 24, 1991)
Corporal Freddie Stowers distinguished himself by exceptional heroism on September 28, 1918, while serving as a squad leader in Company C, 371st Infantry Regiment, 93rd Infantry Division.His company was the lead company during the attack on Hill 188, Champagne Marne Sector, France, during the First World War. A few minutes after the attack began, the enemy ceased firing and began climbing up on to the parapets of the trenches, holding up their arms as if wishing to surrender. The enemy's actions caused the American forces to cease fire and come out into the open.
As the company started forward and when within about 100 meters of the trench line, the enemy jumped back into their trenches and greeted Corporal Stowers' company with interlocking bands of machine gunfire and mortar fire causing well over fifty percent casualties. Faced with incredible enemy resistance, Corporal Stowers took charge, setting such a courageous example of personal bravery and leadership that he inspired his men to follow him in the attack.
With extraordinary heroism and complete disregard of personal danger under devastating fire, he crawled forward, leading his squad toward an enemy machine nest which was causing heavy casualties to his company. After fierce fighting, the machine gun position was destroyed and enemy soldiers were killed. Displaying great courage and intrepidity, Corporal Stowers continued to press the attack against a determined enemy. While crawling forward and urging his men to continue the attack on a second trench line, he was gravely wounded by machine gun fire. Although Corporal Stowers was mortally wounded, he pressed forward, urging on the members of his squad, until he died.
Inspired by the heroism and display of bravery of Corporal Stowers, his company continued the attack against incredible odds, contributing to the capture of Hill 188 and causing heavy enemy casualties. Corporal Stowers' conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism and supreme devotion to his men were well above and beyond the call of duty, followed the finest tradition of military service, and reflected the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.
Awards Made January 13, 1997
1st LT. Vernon J. Baker, Company C - 370th Infantry Regiment, 92nd DivisionIn the predawn darkness of April 5, 1945, as an artillery barrage rained on "Hill X", a German mountain stronghold in Italy at Castle Aghinolfi, Lt. Baker and his 25 man platoon reached the south side of a draw, 250 yards from the castle. Baker saw a telescope pointing out of a slit in a bunker at the edge of the hill. He crawled to the opening, poked his M-1 into the slit, emptied it, killing two German soldiers. Baker then stumbled upon a camouflaged machine gun nest and killed two more German soldiers. Then, another German soldier appeared out of nowhere and lobbed grenade that failed to explode. Baker shot and killed the soldier as he fled. Then he (Baker) entered the canyon alone, blasted open the hidden entrance of another dugout with a grenade, dashed inside and killed two more German soldiers with a submachine gun he had picked up. Lt. Vernon J. Baker's selfless concern for his comrades, at the risk of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, is in keeping with the highest tradition of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
1st LT. Vernon J. Baker did not receive the Medal of Honor until January 13, 1997, presented to him by President William Jefferson Clinton.
Staff Sergeant Edward A. Carter, Jr., U.S. Army 56th Armored Infantry, 12 Armored Division, (No. 1 Provisional)On 23 March 1945, Sgt. Carter and his rifle squad were on a tank, advancing toward Speyer, Germany. The tank began taking bazooka and small-arms fire from a large warehouse. Carter led a three-man patrol across 150 yards of open field to check out the warehouse. One of the three men was killed. Carter ordered the other two men to pull back and provide covering fire. One was killed, the other wounded before they could reach cover. Sgt. Carter pressed on, taking three bullets in his left leg, then another in an arm, and another through his hand. Carter dove for cover behind an earthen berm. Eight German soldiers approached and Carter killed six of them, captured two, and used them as a human shield to get back across the open field. Staff Sgt. Edward A. Carter, Jr.'s selfless concern for his comrades, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, is in keeping with the highest tradition of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
Staff Sgt Edward A. Carter, Jr. did not receive the Medal of Honor until January 13, 1997. It was accepted in the White House/East Ballroom by his family, presented to them by President William Jefferson Clinton.
1st LT. John R. Fox, Cannon Company, 366th Infantry, 92nd DivisionOn Christmas Day, 1944, Fox volunteered to serve as artillery forward observer in the village of Sommocolonia in the Serchio Valley. He chose the second floor of a house as his observation post (OP) on the morning of December 26, Fox and his men awoke to find themselves overrun and Germans trying to break into the house where they had set up their OP. Fox got on his radio, called in artillery fire on the Germans nearby. Fox was calling again, this time asking for artillery fire directly on his own position. He radioed for clarification. Fox replied, "There are hundreds of them coming. Put everything you've got on my OP. Give ?em hell." That was the last that was heard of John Fox. Afterwards, the Colonel commanding the artillery battalion gave the order under gave the order under protest. The unit later went into Sommocolonia and retrieved Fox' shattered body. 1st Lt. John R. Fox's selfless concern for his comrades, at the cost of his life above and beyond the call of duty, is in keeping with the highest tradition of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
1st LT. John R. Fox did not receive the Medal of Honor until January 13, 1997. It was accepted in the White House/East Ballroom by his family, presented to them by President William Jefferson Clinton.
Awards Made January 13, 1997 [cont.]
PFC Willy F. James, Jr., U.S. Army Company G, 413th Infantry Regiment, 104th DivisionOn April 7, 1945, the 413th Infantry had established a bridgehead across Germany's Weser River. In order to secure that vital crossing, the Town of Lippoldsberg had to be captured. James, scouting ahead of the platoon, drew fire. He volunteered to move forward another 200 yards, observed the German position, then returned to report. Again, he walked point in the assault. When his platoon leader was hit, James went to his aid and was killed, the selfless act of PFC Willy F. James, Jr., at the cost of his life above and beyond the call of duty, is in keeping with the highest tradition of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
PFC Willy F. James, Jr. did not receive the Medal of Honor until January 13, 1997. It was accepted in the White House/East Ballroom by his family, presented to them by President William Jefferson Clinton.
Staff Sgt. Ruben Rivers, U.S. Army Company A, 761st Tank Battalion, 3rd Army On November 16, 1944, Sgt. Rivers had already gotten his "million-dollar wound" when his Sherman tank hit a German mine at a railroad crossing outside of Guebling, France. His right leg was laid open to the bone above the knee. Rivers refused medial evacuation and took command of another tank at the head of the column. Three days later, on November 19, 1944, Rivers' battalion was attacking toward the Town of Bourgaltroff when his lead tank was hit by 88-mm antitank fire. Ordered to pull back, Sgt. Rivers moved forward and engaged in a duel that ended when a German shell hit his tank turret and killed him. Staff Sgt. Ruben Rivers' selfless concerns for his comrades at the cost of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, is in keeping with the highest tradition of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
Staff Sgt. Ruben Rivers did not receive the Medal of Honor until January 13, 1997. It was accepted in the White House/East Ballroom by his sister, presented to her by President William Jefferson Clinton.
1st Lt. Charles L. Thomas, U.S. Army Company C, 614st Tank Destroyer Battalion, 103rd DivisionOn December 14, 1944, Lieutenant Thomas volunteered to lead one of his tank platoons as point and decoy for an armored and infantry task force attacking Climbach, 5 miles from the German border. The Germans waited until the platoon was well in the open before opening up with mortar and artillery fire. Thomas was wounded, but scrambled on top of the vehicle, grabbed a 50 caliber machine gun and kept shooting at German infantry. Although he was hit several more times in his arms, chest and legs, Lt. Thomas recuperated from his war wounds and went home to Detroit, Michigan in March 1945. He died in 1980. Lt. Charles L. Thomas' selfless concern for his comrades, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, is in keeping with the highest tradition of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army
1st Lt. Charles L. Thomas did not receive the Medal of Honor until January 13, 1997. It was accepted in the White House/East Ballroom by his family, presented to them by President William Jefferson Clinton.
Pvt. George Watson, U.S. Army, Birmingham, Alabama, 29th Quartermaster RegimentWatson drowned while rescuing others when his ship was sunk by Japanese bombers near Porloch Harbor, New Guinea, on March 8, 1943. Pvt. Watson was the first Black to receive the DSC [Distinguished Service Cross] during World War II. He was 28 years old, had been drafted into the Army and was assigned to the 29th Quartermaster Regiment. Pvt. George Watson's selfless concern for his comrades, at the cost of his life above and beyond the call of duty, is in keeping with the highest tradition of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
Pvt. George Watson did not receive the Medal of Honor until January 13, 1997. It was presented in the White House/East Ballroom to the Sgt. Major of the U.S. Army (due to no family claimant) by President William Jefferson Clinton.
[Panel 11:]Korean War, 1950-1953
PFC William Thompson, Company M, 24th Infantry, born in Brooklyn, New York. Thompson was the first Negro to win the [Congressional Medal of Honor] since the Spanish-American War. He lost his life on August 6, 1950, after fighting off the enemy single-handedly during a withdrawal operation. The Medal was awarded in June 1951.
Sergeant Cornelius H. Charlton, Company C, 24th Infantry, Born in the Bronx, New York. Charlton was the second Negro to win the Congressional Medal of Honor in Korea. On June 2, 1951, he was killed while leading a platoon attack on a communist-held ridge. The Medal was awarded on February 12, 1952.
On June 25, 1950, North Korean Forces, armed with Soviet weapons, ripped across the 38th Parallel, driving hard for the Republic of Korea (ROK) Capital at Seoul. Seventeen days after the Korean bombshell burst, the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment, a unit which, for all its 81 years, had been composed entirely of Black combatants, landed in Korea from Japan. The 24th entered the grim fighting against an enemy which had all but routed the ROK Army, and forced them into one strategic retreat after another. It was a somber beginning. Then on July 22, 1950, the New York Times reported that the important railhead city of Yech'on had been recaptured by American soldiers, American soldiers of the 24th Infantry, Black American soldiers of the 24th infantry, and the New York Daily News headlined "Negroes gain 1st Korea victory." Thus, remnants of an all-Black unit were credited with the first victory for UN forces in Korea.
Despite this initial success, terrible controversy surrounded the performance of many Black fighting units during the war. As in other wars, criticism of Black units was sometimes unduly harsh. In January 1951, NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] Counsel Thurgood Marshall was dispatched to Japan to investigate the conditions surrounding court-martial proceedings involving 32 convicted Negroes accused of violating the 75th Article of War. Of the 32, half had been given death or life imprisonment, and the remainder anywhere from 10 to 50 years. After examining the trial records, Marshall found that several of the deliberations which had resulted in the conferral of life sentences had lasted less than an hour. Four life sentences had been issued in a space ranging from 42 to 50 minutes, hardly time for the observance of court formalities and the presentation of adequate arguments.
Later interviews with the prisoners uncovered other germane facts. One soldier had actually been in an Army hospital at the time he was accused of being absent without leave; another had falsified his age in order to enlist, and was not yet 18 at the time of his conviction; four others were found guilty of cowardice even though they were doing mess duty behind the battle lines at the time of their alleged disappearance. Five other men had been placed on trial in the aftermath of a confused withdrawal during which they had become separated from their unit. An examination of the trial testimony showed that the captain who testified against them had given three different versions of what happened on the night in question. Despite these discrepancies, the captain was promoted to major, and the five men were all convicted of being AWOL. In all, 32 Black GI's had been sentenced to imprisonment for criminal behavior as opposed to only two Whites. Moreover, many of the convicted Blacks, though accused of the same offense as the convicted Whites, had been given far stiffer penalties.
From Japan, Marshall went on to Korea, where he conducted many interviews with infantrymen who claimed that their officers frequently berated them and made no effort whatsoever to disguise their contempt for "nigger troops." Marshall concluded his investigation by maintaining that the frequency of such episodes not only contributed to the high rate of casualties, but also encouraged the practice of scapegoating; i.e., the habit of blaming Negro troops for every conceivable combat SNAFU.
Marshall's findings offered convincing proof that many Negroes were being accused by, and tried before, officers who held them in the kind of prejudicial contempt which made legal justice a virtual impossibility. The NAACP marshaled enough evidence to reverse many of the court-martials entirely and to lighten sentences in the majority of other cases. It also succeeded in drawing renewed attention to the numerous instances of combat heroism involving Negroes.
Two Black infantrymen received Congressional Medals of Honor, both of them awarded posthumously. Private William H. Thompson, one of the designers, had manned a machine gun nest single-handedly and remained at this post until his buddies withdrew to safety. Sergeant Cornelius H. Charlton, the other Medal winner, had led three valiant attacks up an enemy held hill and, though wounded, somehow continued to fire until the enemy emplacement under attack was destroyed.
[Panel 12:]Vietnam, 1964-1973
PFC Milton L. Olive III, Company B, 503 Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade. While participating in a search and destroy operation in the vicinity of Phu Coung on October 22, 1965, PFC Milton Olive saved the lives of his fellow soldiers by falling on a live grenade and absorbing the shock of its blast with his body. Olive was cited for conspicuous gallantry by the President of the United States at the White House on Thursday, April 21, 1966, at which time the Medal was awarded posthumously to his parents.
Born in Chicago, Illinois on November 7, 1946, Olive attended parochial school in his native city and later went to Saints Junior College High School for three years. He took basic combat training at Fort Knox, Kentucky and also attended a number of service schools. During his service tour, he won the Combat Infantryman Badge; the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster. Olive died a few weeks before his 19th Birthday.
Private First Class Garfield M. Langhorn, Troop C. 7th Squadron (Airmobile), 17th Cavalry, 1st Aviation Brigade. A radio operator, Langhorn lost his life after falling on a grenade thrown into the midst of a group of wounded men he was helping rescue during a helicopter mission. Born in 1948 in Cumberland, Virginia, Langhorn attended Riverdale High School before being inducted into service in 1968.
Platoon Sergeant Matthew Leonard, Company B, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Sergeant Leonard was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1967 for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action" during combat operations near Suoi Da in Vietnam. Surviving numerous assaults and several gunshot wounds, Leonard showed remarkable "fighting spirit" and qualities of "heroic leadership." Leonard is a native of Eutaw, Alabama and was born on November 26, 1929.
Sergeant Donald Russell Long, Troop C, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 1st Infantry Division. Sergeant Long was killed in action during an attack on his troop by a Viet Cong regiment on June 20, 1966. Long abandoned the relative safety of his armored personnel carrier and exposed himself to enemy fire while carrying the wounded to evacuation helicopters. He was killed by an exploding grenade absorbing the shock with his body. Born August 27, 1939, Long was a native of Blackfork, Ohio.
Captain Riley Leroy Pitts, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. Captain Pitts died in Vietnam on October 31, 1967, after leading an airmobile assault in the vicinity of Ap Dong, Vietnam. The captain risked his life when a grenade which he had lobbed against the entrenched enemy rebounded off the dense jungle foliage and threatened to explode in the midst of his men. Pitts fell on the grenade but, miraculously, it failed to explode. He was later mortally wounded during an exchange of gunfire with the enemy. Captain Pitts, a native of Fallis, Oklahoma, was born October 15, 1937.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Calvin Rogers, 1st Battalion, 5th Artillery, 1st Infantry Division. Rogers is the highest ranking Black officer to have received the Medal of Honor while on active duty in Vietnam. Rogers served in the embattled country from November, 1967, to November, 1968, and was cited for exceptional gallantry while on duty with the 1st Infantry Division. Despite several wounds, Colonel Rogers rallied the beleaguered men of a fire support base which was in danger of being overrun by a numerically superior enemy and prevented it from being captured. Rogers' citation singled out his "relentless spirit of aggressiveness, conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action."
First Lieutenant Ruppert L. Sargent, HQ & HQ Company, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. Lieutenant Sargent died in action on March 15, 1967.
Specialist Fifth Class Clarence Eugene Sasser, [HQ] Company, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. Medical Aidman Clarence E. Sasser was awarded the Medal of Honor in recognition of his heroic efforts, under fire, on behalf of wounded comrades stranded in an exposed rice paddy. Sasser himself was wounded but stayed at his post for several hours tending others. Born September 12, 1947, in Chenange, Texas, Sasser is a graduate of Marshal High School in Angleton, Texas.
Staff Sergeant Clifford C. Sims, Company D. 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division Squad Leader Sims distinguished himself in action on February 21st, 1968 while his company was engaged in a furious assault on a heavily fortified enemy position. While advancing his unit, Sims heard the unmistakable noise of a concealed booby trap and unhesitantly hurled himself on the device, absorbing its shock with his body. Vice President Agnew presented the Medal posthumously at the White House on December 21, 1969. Sims, a native of Port Saint Joe, Florida, was born June 18, 1942.
[Panel 13:]Vietnam, 1964-1973
First Lieutenant John E. Warren, Jr., Company C, 2nd Battalion (mechanized), 22nd Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. The bravery of Lieutenant Warren cost him his life in Vietnam on January 14, 1969. Warren and his men were moving through a rubber plantation to join a friendly unit when they were set upon by a well fortified enemy. The lieutenant maneuvered his men to within six feet of the enemy bunker, at which point a hostile grenade was thrown into their midst. Warren fell on the grenade and saved three others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Lieutenant Warren was born November 16, 1946.
Sergeant First Class William Maud Bryant, Company A, 5th Special Forces Group, Commanding Officer of C.I.D.G. Co. 321. Sergeant Bryant distinguished himself while serving as Commanding Officer of Civilian Irregular Defense Group Company 321 (2nd Battalion, 3rd Mobile Strike Force Command, during combat operation. SFC Bryant's selfless concern for his comrades, at the cost of his life above and beyond the call of duty, is in keeping with the highest tradition of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army. SFC Bryant was born Cochran, Bleckley County, Georgia, February 16, 1933; died, Long Khanh Province, Republic of Vietnam, March 24, 1969. Date and place of presentation, February 16, 1971, the White House (East Ballroom) presented to his family by President Richard Nixon.
PFC James Anderson, Jr., Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. Like PFC Olive before him, James Anderson, Jr. reacted instantaneously to danger "with complete disregard for his own personal safety," grabbing a live grenade thrown into the midst of his platoon, pulling it to his chest and curling around it as it exploded. The shock was so great that other Marines received shrapnel wounds from the fragmentation. Anderson was killed instantly. The highly decorated soldier (He has won the Purple Heart and several service medals) was a native of Los Angeles, California where he was born January 22, 1947.
PFC Oscar P. Austin, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Division. On February 23, 1969, PFC Oscar P. Austin threw himself on an enemy grenade to protect an injured Marine and later was mortally wounded when he lunged in front of a fallen comrade who was exposed to enemy rifle fire. Austin was cited for "inspiring initiative and selfless devotion to duty." A native of Nagcodoches, Texas, Austin was born January 16, 1948. He completed high school in Phoenix, Arizona, and joined the Marine Corps in April, 1968. Austin had won other medals, including the Purple Heart, before being designated a Medal of Honor winner.
Sergeant Rodney M. Davis, Company B, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Division. During a heavy battle in Quang Nam Province (Republic of Vietnam), Sergeant Rodney M. Davis and his platoon were pinned down by mortars, heavy automatic and small arms fire. Unable to withstand the enemy assault, the Marines were lodged in a trench and in danger of being overrun by the enemy, a grenade lobbed in from close range landed in the trench, threatening the lives of the entire unit. Sergeant Davis "instantly" threw himself upon it in what was described as "a final valiant act of complete self-sacrifice." Davis died September 6, 1967. Born in Macon, Georgia in 1942, he had enlisted in the Corps on August 31, 1961.
PFC Robert H. Jenkins Jr., Company C, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. PFC Robert H. Jenkins was killed in action on the morning of March 5, 1969, while occupying a defense position south on the DMZ. Jenkins and his comrade constituted a two-man fighting emplacement manning a machine gun. When a North Vietnamese grenade was thrown into their midst, Jenkins seized his comrade, shielding him from the full impact of the explosion. He died later of injuries sustained on the scene. Born June 1, 1948, Jenkins was a graduate of Central Academy High School in Palatka, Florida. He enlisted in the Marines in 1968.
Specialist Sixth Class Lawrence Joel, HQ & HQ Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade. One of the earlier winners of the Medal of Honor, Specialist Joel was cited for "Gallantry and Intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Medical Aidman in a combat operation on November 8, 1965. Despite his own wounds, Joel left his cover to minister to several fallen comrades, giving them plasma, pain killers and other necessary medication while under a continuous barrage. Joel, a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was born February 22, 1928.
PFC Ralph H. Johnson, Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division. As part of a 15-man reconnaissance patrol deep in enemy territory, PFC Ralph H. Johnson was manning an observation post on Hill 146 when a heavily-armed, platoon-sized Vietnamese force attacked his position. A grenade tossed into the three-man fighting hole occupied by Johnson and two comrades, threatened the lives of all until Johnson flung himself on the device and absorbed its shattering fragments. Johnson was killed in action on March 5, 1968, less than a year after he had enlisted in the regular Marine Corps. Johnson was a native of Charleston, South Carolina, where he was born January 11, 1949.
Specialist Five Dwight Hal Johnson, Company B, 1st Battalion, 69th Armor, 4th Infantry Division. Climbing fearlessly out of his disabled tank, Johnson, armed only with a .45 caliber pistol, engaged the heavily armed enemy and killed several North Vietnamese. After running out of ammunition, he returned to his tank, where he grabbed a submachine gun before braving yet another enemy barrage. Johnson also rescued comrades and killed several North Vietnamese at close range. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Johnson is a graduate of Northwestern High School. He was born May 7, 1947.
Sergeant First Class Webster Anderson, Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 320th Artillery, 101 Airborne Division. Complete disregard for his personal safety and the ability to function in an exemplary fashion while under fire earmarked Sergeant Anderson for the Medal of Honor, presented to him by President Nixon at the White House on November 24, 1969. Anderson, a native of Winnsboro, South Carolina, entered the U.S. Army on September 11, 1953.
Sergeant First Class Eugene Ashley, Jr., Company C, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. Ashley, a native of Wilmington, North Carolina, where he was born October 12, 1931, was killed in action during an attempted rescue operation at Camp Lang Vei in Vietnam. Ashely lost his life while being carried from the summit of the hill from which he and his men had dislodged the enemy. He was killed by an artillery shell.