Tag Archives: Medal of Honor

This Month in NCO History: June 10, 1953

Compiled by PABLO VILLA
NCO Journal

Sgt. Ola Lee Mize wasn’t the most imposing figure. At 120 pounds, he was initially rejected by the Army for being too light before ultimately being allowed to enlist in 1950. His actions the evening of June 10, 1953, near Surang-ni, Korea, during the Korean War proved he had ample heart.

Ola L. Mize, United States Army, Korean War Medal of Honor recipient.
Ola L. Mize, United States Army, Korean War Medal of Honor recipient.

Mize was part of K Company, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, while it defended a position known as Outpost Harry. Chinese soldiers had swarmed the company’s stronghold, killing or wounding all of its officers. The hail of gunfire was deafening and rattled the encampment with a menacing clatter. The situation was bleak.

But Mize wasn’t shaken. Upon learning that a comrade at a nearby listening post was wounded, Mize made his way through heavy fire to rescue him. He returned to the main position and began moving from bunker to bunker at a furious pace, firing through apertures and tossing grenades to stave off the enemy. At one point, Mize shot a Chinese soldier whose weapon was aimed squarely at a fellow American. Later, Mize charged a machine gun position that had been overrun, killing 10 of the enemy and forcing the rest to flee. During the fight, the concussive blast of grenades and artillery fire knocked Mize down three times. But he kept fighting and managed to escape serious injury.

Around midnight, Mize worked his way to his command post, which had also been overrun. He directed friendly artillery fire along the enemy’s routes of approach. The next morning, he joined American counterattack forces to help take back the outpost.

For his actions, Mize was promoted to master sergeant and was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on Sept. 7, 1954.

After the Korean War, Mize joined the Special Forces and did three tours of duty in the Vietnam War. He retired as a colonel in 1981. Mize died March 12, 2014, in Gadsden, Ala. He was 82.

 

Citation

The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
to

MIZE, OLA L.

Rank and organization: Master Sergeant (then Sgt.), U.S. Army, Company K, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Surang-ni, Korea, 10 to 11 June 1953. Entered service at: Gadsden, Ala. Born: 28 August 1931, Marshall County, Ala. G.O. No.: 70, 24 September 1954.

Citation:
M/Sgt. Mize, a member of Company K, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. Company K was committed to the defense of “Outpost Harry”, a strategically valuable position, when the enemy launched a heavy attack. Learning that a comrade on a friendly listening post had been wounded he moved through the intense barrage, accompanied by a medical aid man, and rescued the wounded soldier. On returning to the main position he established an effective defense system and inflicted heavy casualties against attacks from determined enemy assault forces which had penetrated into trenches within the outpost area. During his fearless actions he was blown down by artillery and grenade blasts 3 times but each time he dauntlessly returned to his position, tenaciously fighting and successfully repelling hostile attacks. When enemy onslaughts ceased he took his few men and moved from bunker to bunker, firing through apertures and throwing grenades at the foe, neutralizing their positions. When an enemy soldier stepped out behind a comrade, prepared to fire, M/Sgt. Mize killed him, saving the life of his fellow soldier. After rejoining the platoon, moving from man to man, distributing ammunition, and shouting words of encouragement he observed a friendly machinegun position overrun. He immediately fought his way to the position, killing 10 of the enemy and dispersing the remainder. Fighting back to the command post, and finding several friendly wounded there, he took a position to protect them. Later, securing a radio, he directed friendly artillery fire upon the attacking enemy’s routes of approach. At dawn he helped regroup for a counterattack which successfully drove the enemy from the outpost. M/Sgt. Mize’s valorous conduct and unflinching courage reflect lasting glory upon himself and uphold the noble traditions of the military service.

Medal of Honor awarded to Army chaplain

From Army News Service:

An Army chaplain, Capt. Emil J. Kapaun, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on Thursday for his actions leading up to his capture as a prisoner of war in North Korea.

President Barack Obama presented the medal to Kapaun’s nephew, Ray Kapaun, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. Ray was joined by other family members and veterans of the Korean War who served with Kapaun.

Kapaun was ordained a priest in 1940, and served under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wichita in Pilsen, Kan. In 1944, he began serving as an Army chaplain. In 1993, Kapaun was named a “Servant of God” by the Vatican, and is currently a candidate for sainthood.

Read more…

President awards Medal of Honor to hero of COP Keating

By C. TODD LOPEZ
Army News Service

President Barack Obama placed the Medal of Honor around the neck of former Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha during a ceremony Feb. 11 in the East Room of the White House.

Romesha is the fourth living service member to receive the medal for service in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom. The former Soldier earned the Medal of Honor for actions Oct. 3, 2009, at Combat Outpost Keating in the Kamdesh district of Nuristan province, Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha during a ceremony at the White House on Feb. 11, 2013. Romesha received the honor for his courageous actions during a day-long firefight at Combat Outpost Keating, Afghanistan, in October 2009. (Photo by Leroy Council)
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha during a ceremony at the White House on Feb. 11, 2013. Romesha received the honor for his courageous actions during a day-long firefight at Combat Outpost Keating, Afghanistan, in October 2009. (Photo by Leroy Council)

On that morning, COP Keating, manned by only 53 Soldiers and situated at the bottom of a steep valley, came under attack by as many as 300 Taliban fighters.

During the fight, the perimeter of COP Keating was breached by the enemy. Romesha, who was injured in the battle, led the fight to protect the bodies of fallen Soldiers, provide cover to those Soldiers seeking medical assistance, and reclaim the American outpost that would later be deemed “tactically indefensible.”

“Throughout history, the question has often been asked, why? Why do those in uniform take such extraordinary risks? And what compels them to such courage?” Obama said. “You ask Clint and any of these Soldiers who are here today, and they’ll tell you. Yes, they fight for their country, and they fight for our freedom. Yes, they fight to come home to their families. But most of all, they fight for each other, to keep each other safe and to have each other’s backs.”

The White House ceremony was attended by several hundred people, including lawmakers, defense leaders, Romesha’s family, and team members from Romesha’s own B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. Also present were Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III.

The president said that upon learning he would receive the Medal of Honor, Romesha displayed the brand of humbleness typical of many Soldiers.

“When I called Clint to tell him that he would receive this medal, he said he was honored, but he also said, ‘It wasn’t just me out there, it was a team effort,'” Obama said. “And so today, we also honor this American team, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Included among those who died in the fighting that day in Afghanistan were Staff Sgt. Justin Gallegos, Sgt. Christopher Griffin, Sgt. Joshua Hardt, Sgt. Joshua Kirk, Spc. Stephan Mace, Staff Sgt. Vernon Martin, Sgt. Michael Scusa, and Pfc. Kevin Thomson.

“Each of these patriots gave their lives looking out for each other,” Obama said. “In a battle that raged all day, that brand of selflessness was displayed again and again and again, Soldiers exposing themselves to enemy fire to pull a comrade to safety, tending to each other’s wounds, [and] performing ‘buddy transfusions,’ giving each other their own blood.”

The president said on that day, it wasn’t just Romesha who earned recognition for his actions, it was dozens of Soldiers. From that battle, Soldiers earned nine Silver Stars, 18 Bronze Stars, 37 Army Commendation Medals and 27 Purple Hearts, the president said.

“These men were outnumbered, outgunned and almost overrun,” Obama said. “Looking back, one of them said, ‘I’m surprised any of us made it out.’ But they are here today. And I would ask these Soldiers, this band of brothers, to stand and accept the gratitude of our entire nation.

“God bless you, Clint Romesha, and all of your team,” the president said. “God bless all who serve. And God bless the United States of America.”

The president then asked that the Medal of Honor Citation be read, and following that, he placed the medal around Romesha’s neck.

This Month in NCO History: February 7, 1968

By MICHAEL L. LEWIS
NCO Journal

Originally from Wilmington, N.C., Eugene Ashley Jr. grew up in New York City. It was there he joined the Army in December 1950 to serve in Korea.

By 1968, Ashley was a 36-year-old sergeant first class serving in Detachment A-101, C Company, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), as the senior Special Forces advisor in a camp in Lang Vei, Vietnam. With a mission of training and equipping locals, the camp became a target of North Vietnamese forces, who began their attempts to capture it in January 1968.

Artist’s depiction of Ashley with his Medal of Honor
Artist’s depiction of Ashley with his Medal of Honor

Early in the morning Feb. 7, North Vietnamese tanks rolled into the base. Finding themselves quickly overwhelmed, most American and Vietnamese survivors managed to escape the camp. However, a small force became trapped in a bunker and was relentlessly harassed with grenades and tear gas.

At dawn, Ashley organized a force of about 100 Laotian soldiers, who had escaped their own overrun camp, to mount a rescue attempt. Despite the Laotians’ reluctance to fight against the North Vietnamese, Ashley led five “vigorous assaults against the enemy, continuously exposing himself to a voluminous hail of enemy grenades, machine gun and automatic weapons fire,” his award citation later said. During the fifth charge, Ashley was shot in the chest, yet continued until he became unconscious. He was killed when an enemy artillery round landed nearby. However, because of his efforts, those in the bunker were soon after rescued by a 50-man force of Marines.

For his “resolute valor” and “critical diversionary pressure,” Ashley was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in December 1969.

This month in NCO History: January 16, 1942

By MICHAEL L. LEWIS
NCO Journal

Jose Calugas Sr., born in the Philippines when it was a territory of the United States, joined the Philippine Scouts of the U.S. Army in 1930. Trained as an artilleryman, he was serving as a mess sergeant in B Battery, 88th Field Artillery, as U.S. troops were withdrawing from the Bataan Peninsula in January 1942.

web-Jose_Calugas_Medal_of_HonorWhile preparing a meal, he realized that one of the batteries’ guns had fallen silent. Discovering that Japanese shelling had killed or wounded its entire crew, Calugas dashed across more than a half-mile of shell-swept terrain to the gun’s position, where he organized a volunteer squad of 16 to return it to action. After combating an hours-long onslaught of Japanese artillery fire, Calugas returned to his kitchen duty.

Though he was recommended for the Medal of Honor, he had not been awarded it by the time American troops in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese in April 1942. Calugas, along with 15,000 American and 60,000 Filipino prisoners of war, were forcibly marched to POW camps — the infamous Bataan Death March in which thousands died under brutal mistreatment by Japanese troops.

Calugas remained imprisoned until January 1943 when he was released to work at a rice mill. There, he secretly set up a guerrilla spy network until the Philippines were liberated in 1945, when he finally was presented with the Medal of Honor by Gen. of the Army George Marshall. He was the only Filipino to receive the award for actions during World War II.

After receiving the award, he was offered U.S. citizenship and accepted a direct commission. He retired as a captain in 1957 and died in Tacoma, Wash., in 1998 at the age of 90.