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Monday, December 07, 2009

We don't deserve men like this, but we get them anyway.

First, the living:

Navy Lieutenant John William Finn, 100 years old and the last living Medal of Honor winner from Pearl Harbor. I saw an interview with him in a recent History Channel documentary about Pearl Harbor. Basically, he just set up a .50 caliber machine gun and blazed away for two hours, getting multiple wounds in the process. "They kept bringing ammo out to me. I'd have kept firing for six months!"

For extraordinary heroism distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lt. Finn promptly secured and manned a .50-caliber machinegun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machinegun strafing fire.

Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention.

Following first aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service
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2. And the dead, dying on November 20, 2009, Lt. Col. Lewis Millett, another Medal of Honor winner and the last man in the American armed services to lead a bayonet charge. Successfully, I might add:

Millet received the Medal of Honor for his actions Feb. 7, 1951. He led the 25th Infantry Division’s Company E, 27th Infantry, in a bayonet charge up Hill 180 near Soam-Ni, Korea. A captain at the time, Millet was leading his company in an attack against a strongly held position when he noticed that a platoon was pinned down by small-arms, automatic, and antitank fire.

Millett placed himself at the head of two other platoons, ordered fixed bayonets, and led an assault up the fire-swept hill. In the fierce charge, Millett bayoneted two enemy soldiers and continued on, throwing grenades, clubbing and bayoneting the enemy, while urging his men forward by shouting encouragement, according to his Medal of Honor citation.

"Despite vicious opposing fire, the whirlwind hand-to-hand assault carried to the crest of the hill," the citation states. "His dauntless leadership and personal courage so inspired his men that they stormed into the hostile position and used their bayonets with such lethal effect that the enemy fled in wild disorder."

Millett was wounded by grenade fragments during the attack, but he refused evacuation until the objective was firmly secured. He recovered, and attended Ranger School after the war.


Thanks to you both.

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