Medal of Honor recipients (January 1944)

Maj Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, 31, USMCR (1912–1988)

VMF-214, MAG-11, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
Central Solomon Islands Area
September 12, 1943 – January 3, 1944
Presented October 5, 1945

Boyington

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Maj Gregory “Pappy” Boyington (MCSN: 0-5254), United States Marine Corps Reserve, for extraordinary heroism and valiant devotion to duty at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Marine Fighting Squadron TWO HUNDRED FOURTEEN (VMF-214), Marine Air Group ELEVEN (MAG-11), FIRST Marine Aircraft Wing, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Central Solomons Area from September 12, 1943 to January 3, 1944.

Consistently outnumbered throughout successive hazardous flights over heavily defended hostile territory, Maj Boyington struck at the enemy with daring and courageous persistence, leading his squadron into combat with devastating results to Japanese shipping, shore installations, and aerial forces. Resolute in his efforts to inflict crippling damage on the enemy, Maj Boyington led a formation of 24 fighters over Kahili on October 17 and, persistently circling the airdrome where 60 hostile aircraft were grounded, boldly challenged the Japanese to send up planes. Under his brilliant command, our fighters shot down 20 enemy craft in the ensuing action without the loss of a single ship. A superb airman and determined fighter against overwhelming odds, Maj Boyington personally destroyed 26 of the many Japanese planes shot down by his squadron and, by his forceful leadership, developed the combat readiness in his command which was a distinctive factor in the Allied aerial achievements in this vitally strategic area.

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Love the picture there, good colorization : )

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SGT Joe C. Specker, 22, USA (1921–1944)

48th Combat Engineer Battalion
Mt. Porcha, Italy
January 7, 1944
Presented July 23, 1944
Posthumous

specker

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (posthumously) to SGT Joe C. Specker (ASN: 37383959), United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, while serving with 48th Combat Engineer Battalion in action involving actual conflict.

On the night of January 7, 1944, SGT Specker, with his company, was advancing up the slope of Mount Porchia, Italy. He was sent forward on reconnaissance and on his return he reported to his company commander the fact that there was an enemy machine-gun nest and several well-placed snipers directly in the path and awaiting the company. SGT Specker requested and was granted permission to place one of his machine guns in a position near the enemy machine gun. Voluntarily and alone he made his way up the mountain with a machine gun and a box of ammunition. He was observed by the enemy as he walked along and was severely wounded by the deadly fire directed at him. Though so seriously wounded that he was unable to walk, he continued to drag himself over the jagged edges of rock and rough terrain until he reached the position at which he desired to set up his machine gun. He set up the gun so well and fired so accurately that the enemy machine-gun nest was silenced and the remainder of the snipers forced to retire, enabling his platoon to obtain their objective. SGT Specker was found dead at his gun. His personal bravery, self-sacrifice, and determination were an inspiration to his officers and fellow soldiers.

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LTC [MAJ] James Howell Howard, 30, USAAF (1913–1995)

356 FS, 354 FG, 9th Air Force
Over Oschersleben, Germany
January 11, 1944
Presented June 27, 1944

Howard

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to LTC (Air Corps) James Howell Howard (ASN: 0-511937), United States Army Air Forces, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 356th Fighter Squadron, 354th Fighter Group, Ninth Air Force, in action with the enemy near Oschersleben, Germany, on January 11, 1944.

On that day LTC Howard was the leader of a group of P-51 aircraft providing support for a heavy bomber formation on a long-range mission deep in enemy territory. As LTC Howard’s group met the bombers in the target area the bomber force was attacked by numerous enemy fighters. LTC Howard, with his group, at once engaged the enemy and himself destroyed a German Me 110. As a result of this attack LTC Howard lost contact with his group, and at once returned to the level of the bomber formation. He then saw that the bombers were being heavily attacked by enemy airplanes and that no other friendly fighters were at hand. While LTC Howard could have waited to attempt to assemble his group before engaging the enemy, he chose instead to attack single-handed a formation of more than 30 German airplanes. With utter disregard for his own safety, he immediately pressed home determined attacks for some 30 minutes, during which time he destroyed three enemy airplanes and probably destroyed and damaged others. Toward the end of this engagement three of his guns went out of action and his fuel supply was becoming dangerously low. Despite these handicaps and the almost insuperable odds against him, LTC Howard continued his aggressive action in an attempt to protect the bombers from the numerous fighters. His skill, courage, and intrepidity on this occasion set an example of heroism which will be an inspiration to the U.S. Armed Forces.

SSG Thomas Edward McCall, 27, USA (1916–1965)

Company F, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division
San Angelo, Italy
January 22, 1944
Presented March 5, 1945

McCall

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to SSG Thomas Edward McCall, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company F, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, in action at San Angelo, Italy.

On January 22, 1944, Company F had the mission of crossing the Rapido River in the vicinity of San Angelo, Italy, and attacking the well-prepared German positions to the west. For the defense of these positions the enemy had prepared a network of machine-gun positions covering the terrain to the front with a pattern of withering machine-gun fire, and mortar and artillery positions zeroed in on the defilade areas. SSG McCall commanded a machine-gun section that was to provide added fire support for the riflemen. Under cover of darkness, Company F advanced to the river crossing site and under intense enemy mortar, artillery, and machine-gun fire crossed an ice-covered bridge which was continually the target for enemy fire. Many casualties occurred on reaching the west side of the river and reorganization was imperative. Exposing himself to the deadly enemy machine-gun and small-arms fire that swept over the flat terrain, SSG McCall, with unusual calmness, encouraged and welded his men into an effective fighting unit. He then led them forward across the muddy, exposed terrain. Skillfully he guided his men through a barbed-wire entanglement to reach a road where he personally placed the weapons of his two squads into positions of vantage, covering the battalion’s front. A shell landed near one of the positions, wounding the gunner, killing the assistant gunner, and destroying the weapon. Even though enemy shells were falling dangerously near, SSG McCall crawled across the treacherous terrain and rendered first aid to the wounded man, dragging him into a position of cover with the help of another man. The gunners of the second machine gun had been wounded from the fragments of an enemy shell, leaving SSG McCall the only remaining member of his machine-gun section. Displaying outstanding aggressiveness, he ran forward with the weapon on his hip, reaching a point 30 yards from the enemy, where he fired two bursts of fire into the nest, killing or wounding all of the crew and putting the gun out of action. A second machine gun now opened fire upon him and he rushed its position, firing his weapon from the hip, killing four of the gun crew. A third machine gun, 50 yards in rear of the first two, was delivering a tremendous volume of fire upon our troops. SSG McCall spotted its position and valiantly went toward it in the face of overwhelming enemy fire. He was last seen courageously moving forward on the enemy position, firing his machine gun from his hip. SSG McCall’s intrepidity and unhesitating willingness to sacrifice his life exemplify the highest traditions of the Armed Forces.

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1stLt Robert Murray Hanson, 23, USMCR (1920–1944)

VMF-215, MAG-14, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
Bougainville Island & New Britain Island, New Guinea
November 1, 1943 – January 24, 1944
Presented August 19, 1944
Posthumous

HANSON

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (posthumously) to 1stLt Robert Murray Hanson (MCSN: 0-19154), United States Marine Corps Reserve, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and above and beyond the call of duty as fighter pilot attached to Marine Fighting Squadron TWO HUNDRED FIFTEEN (VMF-215), Marine Air Group FOURTEEN (MAG-14), FIRST Marine Aircraft Wing, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Bougainville Island, November 1, 1943, and New Britain Island, January 24, 1944.

Undeterred by fierce opposition and fearless in the face of overwhelming odds, 1stLt Hanson fought the Japanese boldly and with daring aggressiveness. On November 1, while flying cover for our landing operations at Empress Augusta Bay, he dauntlessly attacked six enemy torpedo bombers, forcing them to jettison their bombs and destroying one Japanese plane during the action. Cut off from his division while deep in enemy territory during a high cover flight over Simpson Harbor on January 24, 1stLt Hanson waged a lone and gallant battle against hostile interceptors as they were orbiting to attack our bombers and, striking with devastating fury, brought down four Zeros and probably a fifth. Handling his plane superbly in both pursuit and attack measures, he was a master of individual air combat, accounting for a total of 25 Japanese aircraft in this theater of war. His great personal valor and invincible fighting spirit were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

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T/5 Eric Gunnar Gibson, 24, USA (1919–1944)

Company I, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division
Near Isola Bella, Italy
January 28, 1944
Presented September 15, 1944
Posthumous

Gibson

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (posthumously) to T/5 Eric Gunnar Gibson, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.

On January 28, 1944, near Isola Bella, Italy, T/5 Gibson, company cook, led a squad of replacements through their initial baptism of fire, destroyed four enemy positions, killed five, and captured two German soldiers, and secured the left flank of his company during an attack on a strongpoint. Placing himself 50 yards in front of his new men, Gibson advanced down the wide stream ditch known as the Fossa Femminamorta, keeping pace with the advance of his company. An enemy soldier allowed T/5 Gibson to come within 20 yards of his concealed position and then opened fire on him with a machine pistol. Despite the stream of automatic fire which barely missed him, Gibson charged the position, firing his submachine gun every few steps. Reaching the position, Gibson fired point-blank at his opponent, killing him. An artillery concentration fell in and around the ditch; the concussion from one shell knocked him flat. As he got to his feet Gibson was fired on by two soldiers armed with a machine pistol and a rifle from a position only 75 yards distant. Gibson immediately raced toward the foe. Halfway to the position a machine gun opened fire on him. Bullets came within inches of his body, yet Gibson never paused in his forward movement. He killed one and captured the other soldier. Shortly after, when he was fired upon by a heavy machine gun 200 yards down the ditch, Gibson crawled back to his squad and ordered it to lay down a base of fire while he flanked the emplacement. Despite all warnings, Gibson crawled 125 yards through an artillery concentration and the crossfire of two machine guns which showered dirt over his body, threw two hand grenades into the emplacement, and charged it with his submachine gun, killing two of the enemy and capturing a third. Before leading his men around a bend in the stream ditch, Gibson went forward alone to reconnoiter. Hearing an exchange of machine pistol and submachine-gun fire, Gibson’s squad went forward to find that its leader had run 35 yards toward an outpost, killed the machine pistol man, and had himself been killed while firing at the Germans.

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SSG Jesse Ray Drowley, 24, USA (1919–1996)

Company B, 1st Battalion, 132nd Infantry Regiment, Americal Division
Bougainville, Solomon Islands
January 30, 1944
Presented August 30, 1944

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The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to SSG Jesse Ray Drowley, United States Army, for gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy at Bougainville, Solomon Islands, January 30, 1944, while serving with Company B, 1st Battalion, 132nd Infantry Regiment, Americal Division.

SSG Drowley, a squad leader in a platoon whose mission during an attack was to remain under cover while holding the perimeter defense and acting as a reserve for assaulting echelon, saw three members of the assault company fall badly wounded. When intense hostile fire prevented aid from reaching the casualties, he fearlessly rushed forward to carry the wounded to cover. After rescuing two men, SSG Drowley discovered an enemy pillbox undetected by assaulting tanks that was inflicting heavy casualties upon the attacking force and was a chief obstacle to the success of the advance. Delegating the rescue of the third man to an assistant, he ran across open terrain to one of the tanks. Signaling to the crew, he climbed to the turret, exchanged his weapon for a submachine gun and voluntarily rode the deck of the tank directing it toward the pillbox by tracer fire. The tank, under constant heavy enemy fire, continued to within 20 feet of the pillbox where SSG Drowley received a severe bullet wound in the chest. Refusing to return for medical treatment, he remained on the tank and continued to direct its progress until the enemy box was definitely located by the crew. At this point he again was wounded by small arms fire, losing his left eye and falling to the ground. He remained alongside the tank until the pillbox had been completely demolished and another directly behind the first destroyed. SSG Drowley, his voluntary mission successfully accomplished, returned alone for medical treatment.

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PFC Lloyd Cortez Hawks, 33, USA (1911–1953)

Medical Detachment, Company G, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division
Near Carano, Italy
January 30, 1944
Authorized January 15, 1945

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The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to PFC Lloyd C. Hawks, United States Army, for gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the Medical Detachment, Company G, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.

On January 30, 1944, at 3:00 p.m., near Carano, Italy, PFC Hawks braved an enemy counterattack in order to rescue two wounded men who, unable to move, were lying in an exposed position within 30 yards of the enemy. Two riflemen, attempting the rescue, had been forced to return to their fighting holes by extremely severe enemy machine-gun fire, after crawling only ten yards toward the casualties. An aid man, whom the enemy could plainly identify as such, had been critically wounded in a similar attempt. PFC Hawks, nevertheless, crawled 50 yards through a veritable hail of machine-gun bullets and flying mortar fragments to a small ditch, administered first aid to his fellow aid man who had sought cover therein, and continued toward the two wounded men 50 yards distant. An enemy machine-gun bullet penetrated his helmet, knocking it from his head, momentarily stunning him. Thirteen bullets passed through his helmet as it lay on the ground within six inches of his body. PFC Hawks, crawled to the casualties, administered first aid to the more seriously wounded man and dragged him to a covered position 25 yards distant. Despite continuous automatic fire from positions only 30 yards away and shells which exploded within 25 yards, PFC Hawks returned to the second man and administered first aid to him. As he raised himself to obtain bandages from his medical kit his right hip was shattered by a burst of machine-gun fire and a second burst splintered his left forearm. Displaying dogged determination and extreme self-control, PFC Hawks, despite severe pain and his dangling left arm, completed the task of bandaging the remaining casualty and with superhuman effort dragged him to the same depression to which he had brought the first man. Finding insufficient cover for three men at this point, PFC Hawks crawled 75 yards in an effort to regain his company, reaching the ditch in which his fellow aid man was lying.

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SGT Truman O. Olson, 26, USA (1917–1944)

Company B, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division
Cisterna di Littoria, Italy
January 30-31, 1944
Presented January 24, 1945
Posthumous

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The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (posthumously) to SGT Truman O. Olson, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on January 30 & 31, 1944, while serving with Company B, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, in action at Cisterna di Littoria, Italy. SGT Olson, a light machine gunner, elected to sacrifice his life to save his company from annihilation.

On the night of January 30, 1944, after a 16-hour assault on entrenched enemy positions in the course of which over one-third of Company B became casualties, the survivors dug in behind a horseshoe elevation, placing SGT Olson and his crew, with the one available machine gun, forward of their lines and in an exposed position to bear the brunt of the expected German counterattack. Although he had been fighting without respite, SGT Olson stuck grimly to his post all night while his gun crew was cut down, one-by-one, by accurate and overwhelming enemy fire. Weary from over 24 hours of continuous battle and suffering from an arm wound, received during the night engagement, SGT Olson manned his gun alone, meeting the full force of an all-out enemy assault by approximately 200 men supported by mortar and machine-gun fire which the Germans launched at daybreak on the morning of January 31. After 30 minutes of fighting, SGT Olson was mortally wounded, yet, knowing that only his weapons stood between his company and complete destruction, he refused evacuation. For an hour and a half after receiving his second and fatal wound he continued to fire his machinegun, killing at least 20 of the enemy, wounding many more, and forcing the assaulting German elements to withdraw.

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