27 May 2012

Victoria Cross: W. F. W. Waller


Lieutenant, 25th Bombay Light Infantry

Born: 20 August 1839, Dagoolie, India
Died: 29 January 1885, Bath, Somerset

Citation: For great gallantry at the capture by storm of the fortress of Gwalior, on the 20th June, 1858. He and Lieutenant Rose, who was killed, were the only Europeans present, and, with a mere handful of men, they attacked the fortress, climbed on the roof of a house, shot the gunners opposed to them, carried all before them and took the fort, killing every man in it.

[London Gazette issue 22601 dated 25 Feb 1862, published 25 Feb 1862.]

Medal of Honor: S. E. Manning


Corporal, US Army; Company G, 167th Infantry, 42d Division

Born: 17 July 1892, Butler County, Alabama
Died: 15 December 1960, Alabama(?)

Citation: When his platoon commander and platoon sergeant had both become casualties soon after the beginning of an assault on strongly fortified heights overlooking the Ourcq River [near Breuvannes, France, on 28 July 1918], Cpl. Manning took command of his platoon, which was near the center of the attacking line. Though himself severely wounded he led forward the 35 men remaining in the platoon and finally succeeded in gaining a foothold on the enemy's position, during which time he had received more wounds and all but 7 of his men had fallen. Directing the consolidation of the position, he held off a large body of the enemy only 50 yards away by fire from his automatic rifle. He declined to take cover until his line had been entirely consolidated with the line of the platoon on the front when he dragged himself to shelter, suffering from 9 wounds in all parts of the body.

20 May 2012

Victoria Cross: F. Wheatley


Private, 1st Battalion The Rifle Brigade

Born: 1826, Ruddington, Nottinghamshire
Died: 21 May 1865, Westminster, London

Citation: For throwing a live shell over the parapet of the trenches.

[London Gazette issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.]

Medal of Honor: D. P. Matthews


Sergeant, US Marine Corps; Company F, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced)

Born: 31 December 1931, Van Nuys, California
Died: 28 March 1953, Korea

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a squad leader of Company F, in action against enemy aggressor forces [at Vegas Hill, Korea, on 28 March 1953]. Participating in a counterattack against a firmly entrenched and well-concealed hostile force which had repelled 6 previous assaults on a vital enemy-held outpost far forward of the main line of resistance Sgt. Matthews fearlessly advanced in the attack until his squad was pinned down by a murderous sweep of fire from an enemy machine gun located on the peak of the outpost. Observing that the deadly fire prevented a corpsman from removing a wounded man lying in an open area fully exposed to the brunt of the devastating gunfire, he worked his way to the base of the hostile machine gun emplacement, leaped onto the rock fortification surrounding the gun and, taking the enemy by complete surprise, single-handedly charged the hostile emplacement with his rifle. Although severely wounded when the enemy brought a withering hail of fire to bear upon him, he gallantly continued his valiant l-man assault and, firing his rifle with deadly effectiveness, succeeded in killing 2 of the enemy, routing a third, and completely silencing the enemy weapon, thereby enabling his comrades to evacuate the stricken marine to a safe position. Succumbing to his wounds before aid could reach him, Sgt. Matthews, by his indomitable fighting spirit, courageous initiative, and resolute determination in the face of almost certain death, served to inspire all who observed him and was directly instrumental in saving the life of his wounded comrade. His great personal valor reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

17 May 2012

Medal of Honor awarded for Vietnam


Specialist Four, US Army; 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

Born: 22 February 1948, Kufstein, Tirol, Austria
Died: 10 May 1970, Se San, Cambodia

Citation: Specialist Four Leslie H. Sabo Jr. distinguished himself by conspicuous acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his own life while serving as a rifleman in Company B, 3d Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division in Se San, Cambodia, on May 10, 1970. On that day, Specialist Four Sabo and his platoon were conducting a reconnaissance patrol when they were ambushed from all sides by a large enemy force. Without hesitation, Specialist Four Sabo charged an enemy position, killing several enemy soldiers. Immediately thereafter, he assaulted an enemy flanking force, successfully drawing their fire away from friendly soldiers and ultimately forcing the enemy to retreat. In order to re-supply ammunition, he sprinted across an open field to a wounded comrade. As he began to reload, an enemy grenade landed nearby. Specialist Four Sabo picked it up, threw it, and shielded his comrade with his own body, thus absorbing the brunt of the blast and saving his comrade's life. Seriously wounded by the blast, Specialist Four Sabo nonetheless retained the initiative and then single-handedly charged an enemy bunker that had inflicted severe damage on the platoon, receiving several serious wounds from automatic weapons fire in the process. Now mortally injured, he crawled towards the enemy emplacement and, when in position, threw a grenade into the bunker. The resulting explosion silenced the enemy fire, but also ended Specialist Four Sabo's life. His indomitable courage and complete disregard for his own safety saved the lives of many of his platoon members. Specialist Four Sabo's extraordinary heroism and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty, at the cost of his life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company B, 3d Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, and the United States Army.

Note: The President's remarks at the award ceremony can be found here.

13 May 2012

Victoria Cross: A. Chowne


Lieutenant, 2 /2 Australian Infantry Battalion, Australian Military Forces

Born: 19 July 1920, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died: 25 March 1945, Dagua, New Guinea

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery, brilliant leadership and devotion to duty during an attack on an enemy position on a narrow ridge near Dagua, New Guinea, on 25th March, 1945.
After the capture of Dagua, the main enemy force withdrew southwards from the beach to previously prepared positions on the flank of the Division. Further movement towards Wewak was impossible while this threat to the flank existed and the Battalion was ordered to destroy the enemy force.
'A' Company, after making contact with the enemy on a narrow ridge, was ordered to attack the position. The leading Platoon in the attack came under heavy fire from concealed enemy machine guns sited on a small rise dominating the approach. In the initial approach one member of this Platoon was killed and nine wounded, including the Platoon Commander, and the enemy continued to inflict casualties on our troops. Without awaiting orders, Lieutenant Chowne, whose Platoon was in reserve, instantly appreciated the plight of the leading Platoon and rushed the enemy's position. Running up a steep, narrow track, he hurled grenades which knocked out two enemy Light Machine Guns. Then, calling on his men to follow him and firing his submachine gun from the hip, he charged the enemy's position. Although he sustained two serious wounds in the chest, the impetus of his charge carried him 50 yards forward under the most intense machine gun and rifle fire. Lieutenant Chowne accounted for two more Japanese before he was killed standing over three foxholes occupied by the enemy.
The superb heroism and self-sacrifice of this officer, culminating in his death, resulted in the capture of this strongly-held enemy position, ensured the further immediate success of. his Company in this area and paved the way directly for the continuance of the Division's advance to Wewak.

[London Gazette issue 37253 dated 6 Sep 1945, published 4 Sep 1945.]

Medal of Honor: C. E. Lassen


Lieutenant, US Navy; Helicopter Support Squadron 7, Detachment 104, embarked USS Preble (DLG 15)

Born: 14 March 1942, Fort Myers, Florida
Died: 1 April 1994

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as pilot and aircraft commander of a search and rescue helicopter, attached to Helicopter Support Squadron 7, during operations against enemy forces in North Vietnam [on 19 June 1968]. Launched shortly after midnight to attempt the rescue of 2 downed aviators, Lt. (then Lt. (J.G.)) Lassen skillfully piloted his aircraft over unknown and hostile terrain to a steep, tree-covered hill on which the survivors had been located. Although enemy fire was being directed at the helicopter, he initially landed in a clear area near the base of the hill, but, due to the dense undergrowth, the survivors could not reach the helicopter. With the aid of flare illumination, Lt. Lassen successfully accomplished a hover between 2 trees at the survivors' position Illumination was abruptly lost as the last of the flares were expended, and the helicopter collided with a tree, commencing a sharp descent. Expertly righting his aircraft and maneuvering clear, Lt. Lassen remained in the area, determined to make another rescue attempt, and encouraged the downed aviators while awaiting resumption of flare illumination. After another unsuccessful, illuminated rescue attempt, and with his fuel dangerously low and his aircraft significantly damaged, he launched again and commenced another approach in the face of the continuing enemy opposition. When flare illumination was again lost, Lt. Lassen, fully aware of the dangers in clearly revealing his position to the enemy, turned on his landing lights and completed the landing. On this attempt, the survivors were able to make their way to the helicopter. En route to the coast he encountered and successfully evaded additional hostile antiaircraft fire and, with fuel for only 5 minutes of flight remaining, landed safely aboard U.S.S. Jouett (DLG-29).

Note: USS Lassen (DDG 82) was named in his honour.

11 May 2012

Medal of Honor to be awarded for Vietnam

ZUI this article from the Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette:
"There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty," Alexander Hamilton observed, "that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism."


On May 10, 1970, {Specialist Fourth Class Leslie H] Sabo, a rifleman in Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, was roused to such conspicuous acts of courage that a Congress and president of the United States generations later would be moved to correct an oversight of history.

President Barack Obama will honor Sabo with the posthumous award of the Medal of Honor, making him another hero in a region that has swelled the ranks of conspicuous heroes. Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland has inducted more than 80 recipients of the Medal of Honor from Western Pennsylvania into its Hall of Valor.


Incredibly, although the medal request was submitted at the time, his paperwork was lost in the bureaucratic labyrinth, only to be found in 1999 by a veteran of the 101st Airborne, who was doing research in the military repository of the National Archives. Even then it took many years of effort, and special legislation by Congress, to do justice to Sabo's forgotten sacrifice.

When the president presents the medal on May 16 to Sabo's widow, Rose Mary Sabo Brown, with his brother George and 50 men from his old unit in attendance, that too can be ascribed to a certain enthusiasm in liberty that lifts human nature above the ordinary. For just as an effort is made to retrieve fallen American troops from the battlefield, so an effort was made to retrieve one soldier's lost glory for posterity.

06 May 2012

George Cross: A. D. Merriman


Born: 25 November 1892, South Manchester
Died: 1972

Citation: The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS to:—
Arthur Douglas Merriman, Part-time Experimental Officer, Directorate of Scientific Research, Ministry of Supply.
For conspicuous bravery in connection with bomb disposal.

[London Gazette issue 35006 dated 3 Dec 1940, published 3 Dec 1940.]

Victoria Cross: H. Jones


Lieutenant Colonel, commanding 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment

Born: 14 May 1940, Putney, London
Died: 28 May 1982, Darwin Hill, East Falklands

Citation: On 28th May 1982 Lieutenant Colonel JONES was commanding 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment on operations on the Falkland Islands. The Battalion was ordered to attack enemy positions in and around the settlements of Darwin and Goose Green.
During the attack against an enemy who was well dug in with mutually supporting positions sited in depth, the Battalion was held up just South of Darwin by a particularly well-prepared and resilient enemy position of at least eleven trenches on an important ridge. A number of casualties were received. In order to read the battle fully and to ensure that the momentum of his attack was not lost, Colonel Jones took forward his reconnaissance party to the foot of a re-entrant which a section of his Battalion had just secured. Despite persistent, heavy and accurate fire the reconnaissance party gained the top of the re-entrant, at approximately the same height as the enemy positions. From here Colonel Jones encouraged the direction of his Battalion mortar fire, in an effort to neutralise the enemy positions. However, these had been well prepared and continued to pour effective fire onto the Battalion advance, which, by now held up for over an hour and under increasingly heavy artillery fire, was in danger of faltering.
In his effort to gain a good viewpoint, Colonel Jones was now at the very front of his Battalion. It was clear to him that desperate measures were needed in order to overcome the enemy position and rekindle the attack, and that unless these measures were taken promptly the Battalion would sustain increasing casualties and the attack perhaps even fail. It was time for personal leadership and action. Colonel Jones immediately seized a sub-machine gun, and, calling on those around him and with total disregard for his own safety, charged the nearest enemy position. This action exposed him to fire from a number of trenches. As he charged up a short slope at the enemy position he was seen to fall and roll backward downhill. He immediately picked himself up, and again charged the enemy trench, firing his sub-machine gun and seemingly oblivious to the intense fire directed at him. He was hit by fire from another trench which he outflanked, and fell dying only a few feet from the enemy he had assaulted. A short time later a company of the Battalion attacked the enemy, who quickly surrendered. The devasting display of courage by Colonel Jones had completely undermined their will to fight further.
Thereafter the momentum of the attack was rapidly regained, Darwin and Goose Green were liberated, and the Battalion released the local inhabitants unharmed and forced the surrender of some 1,200 of the enemy.
The achievements of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment at Darwin and Goose Green set the tone for the subsequent land victory on the Falklands. They achieved such a moral superiority over the enemy in this first battle that, despite the advantages of numbers and selection of battle-ground, they never thereafter doubted either the superior fighting qualities of the British troops, or their own inevitable defeat.
This was an action of the utmost gallantry by a Commanding Officer whose dashing leadership and courage throughout the battle were an inspiration to all about him.

[London Gazette issue 49134 dated 11 Oct 1982, published 8 Oct 1982.]

Medal of Honor: A. W. Greely


Major General, US Army; retired

Born: 27 March 1844, Newburyport, Massachusetts
Died: 20 October 1935, Washington, District of Columbia

Citation: For his life of splendid public service, begun on 27 March 1844, having enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army on 26 July 1861, and by successive promotions was commissioned as major general 10 February 1906, and retired by operation of law on his 64th birthday.

Notes: USS General A W Greely (AP 141) was named in his honour.
The medal was awarded by act of Congress on 21 Mar 1935.