Today's Medal of Honor Moment for 2 September
September 2nd, 2009 by John Donovan
Photograph of President Harry Truman joining hands with four servicemen he has just decorated with the Medal of Honor. Shown are Sergeant John R. McKinney and Lieutenant Daniel W. Lee. Not shown are Navy Lieutenant Donald A. Gary and Commander Joseph T. O'Callahan (more about all three in future posts). In a sense, this is a good day for the Medal, in that there are only two, and both recipients survived the fight where they earned the award. The Medal makes its first appearance on this day just down the road from where I live - near Fort Dodge, Kansas, during the Indian War period. What's missing from this cite is the fact that Corporal Herron didn't receive his Medal until... 1919. For more details of Corporal Herron's feat of arms go read a New York Times article from the day. If you read the article, you might find yourself asking how come there weren't two Medals for this fight - with the other going to Trooper Paddy Boyle!
The Medal takes a long break, resurfacing again in 1944, at Montreval, France in the form of one very tough Lieutenant.HERRON, LEANDERRank and organization: Corporal, Company A, 3d U.S. Infantry. Place and date: Near Fort Dodge, Kans., 2 September 1868. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Bucks County, Pa. Date of issue: Unknown. Citation: While detailed as mail courier from the fort, voluntarily went to the assistance of a party of 4 enlisted men, who were attacked by about 50 Indians at some distance from the fort and remained with them until the party was relieved.
(John Donovan is a Legionnaire with the Department of Kansas with service in the U.S. Army. He blogs at his own website The Castle Argghhh!)LEE, DANIEL W.Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Troop A, 117th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron. Place and date: Montreval, France, 2 September 1944. Entered service at: Alma, Ga. Born: 23 June 1919, Alma, Ga. G.O. No.: 14, 4 February 1946. Citation: 1st Lt. (then 2d Lt. ) Daniel W. Lee was leader of Headquarters Platoon, Troop A, 117th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized, at Montreval, France, on 2 September 1944, when the Germans mounted a strong counterattack, isolating the town and engaging its outnumbered defenders in a pitched battle. After the fight had raged for hours and our forces had withstood heavy shelling and armor-supported infantry attacks, 2d Lt. Lee organized a patrol to knock out mortars which were inflicting heavy casualties on the beleaguered reconnaissance troops. He led the small group to the edge of the town, sweeping enemy riflemen out of position on a ridge from which he observed 7 Germans manning 2 large mortars near an armored half-track about 100 yards down the reverse slope. Armed with a rifle and grenades, he left his men on the high ground and crawled to within 30 yards of the mortars, where the enemy discovered him and unleashed machine-pistol fire which shattered his right thigh. Scorning retreat, bleeding and suffering intense pain, he dragged himself relentlessly forward He killed 5 of the enemy with rifle fire and the others fled before he reached their position. Fired on by an armored car, he took cover behind the German half-track and there found a panzerfaust with which to neutralize this threat. Despite his wounds, he inched his way toward the car through withering machinegun fire, maneuvering into range, and blasted the vehicle with a round from the rocket launcher, forcing it to withdraw. Having cleared the slope of hostile troops, he struggled back to his men, where he collapsed from pain and loss of blood. 2d Lt. Lee's outstanding gallantry, willing risk of life, and extreme tenacity of purpose in coming to grips with the enemy, although suffering from grievous wounds, set an example of bravery and devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.
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