Medal of Honor recipients (September 1943)

S1c Johnnie David Hutchins, 21, USNR (1922–1943)

USS LST 473
Lae, New Guinea
September 4, 1943
Presented September 1944
Posthumous

hutchins

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (posthumously) to S1c Johnnie David Hutchins, United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism and conspicuous valor above and beyond the call of duty while serving on board a Landing Ship, Tank, during the assault on Lae, New Guinea, September 4, 1943.

As the ship on which Hutchins was stationed approached the enemy-occupied beach under a veritable hail of fire from Japanese shore batteries and aerial bombardment, a hostile torpedo pierced the surf and bore down upon the vessel with deadly accuracy. In the tense split seconds before the helmsman could steer clear of the threatening missile, a bomb struck the pilot house, dislodged him from his station, and left the stricken ship helplessly exposed. Fully aware of the dire peril of the situation, Hutchins, although mortally wounded by the shattering explosion, quickly grasped the wheel and exhausted the last of his strength in maneuvering the vessel clear of the advancing torpedo. Still clinging to the helm, he eventually succumbed to his injuries, his final thoughts concerned only with the safety of his ship, his final efforts expended toward the security of his mission. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

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SGT James Marion Logan, 22, USA (1920–1999)

1st Platoon, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division
Near Salerno, Italy
September 9, 1943
Presented June 6, 1944

logan

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to SGT James Marion Logan, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action involving actual conflict on September 9, 1943, while serving with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, in action in the vicinity of Salerno, Italy.

As a rifleman of an infantry company, SGT Logan landed with the first wave of the assault echelon on the beaches of the Gulf of Salerno, and after his company had advanced 800 yards inland and taken positions along the forward bank of an irrigation canal, the enemy began a serious counterattack from positions along a rock wall which ran parallel with the canal about 200 yards further inland. Voluntarily exposing himself to the fire of a machine gun located along the rock wall, which sprayed the ground so close to him that he was splattered with dirt and rocks and splinters from the impact of the bullets, SGT Logan killed the first three Germans as they came through a gap in the wall. He then attacked the machine gun. As he dashed across the 200 yards of exposed terrain a withering stream of fire followed his advance. Reaching the wall, he crawled along the base, within easy reach of the enemy crouched along the opposite side, until he reached the gun. Jumping up, he shot the two gunners down, hurdled the wall, and seized the gun. Swinging it around, he immediately opened fire on the enemy with the remaining ammunition, raking their flight and inflicting further casualties on them as they fled. After smashing the machine gun over the rocks, SGT Logan captured an enemy officer and private who were attempting to sneak away. Later in the morning, SGT Logan went after a sniper hidden in a house about 150 yards from the company. Again, the intrepid Sergeant ran a gauntlet of fire to reach his objective. Shooting the lock off the door, SGT Logan kicked it in and shot the sniper who had just reached the bottom of the stairs. The conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity which characterized SGT Logan’s exploits proved a constant inspiration to all the men of his company, and aided materially in insuring the success of the beachhead at Salerno.

1LT Arnold L. Bjorklund, 25, USA (1918–1979)

142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division
Near Altavilla, Italy
September 13, 1943
Presented August 30, 1944

bjorklund

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to 1LT (Inf) Arnold L. Bjorklund, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Altavilla, Italy, September 13, 1943, while serving with 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division.

When his company attacked a German position on Hill 424, the first platoon, led by 1LT Bjorklund, moved forward on the right flank to the slope of the hill where it was pinned down by a heavy concentration of machine-gun and rifle fire. Ordering his men to give covering fire, with only three hand grenades, he crept and crawled forward to a German machine-gun position located on a terrace along the forward slope. Approaching within a few yards of the position, and while continuously exposed to enemy fire, he hurled one grenade into the nest, destroyed the gun and killed three Germans. Discovering a second machine gun 20 yards to the right on a higher terrace, he moved under intense enemy fire to a point within a few yards and threw a second grenade into this position, destroying it and killing two more Germans. The first platoon was then able to advance 150 yards further up the slope to the crest of the hill, but was again stopped by the fire from a heavy enemy mortar on the reverse slope. 1LT Bjorklund located the mortar and worked his way under little cover to within ten yards of its position and threw his third grenade, destroying the mortar, killing two of the Germans, and forcing the remaining three to flee. His actions permitted the platoon to take its objective.

PVT William John Crawford, 25, USA (1918–2000)

Company I, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division
Near Altavilla, Italy
September 13, 1943
Presented July 20, 1944 (to his father) and May 30, 1984 (to himself)

crawfordbill

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to PVT William John Crawford, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Altavilla, Italy, September 13, 1943, while serving with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division.

When Company I attacked an enemy-held position on Hill 424, the 3rd Platoon, in which PVT Crawford was a squad scout, attacked as base platoon for the company. After reaching the crest of the hill, the platoon was pinned down by intense enemy machine-gun and small-arms fire. Locating one of these guns, which was dug in on a terrace on his immediate front, PVT Crawford, without orders and on his own initiative, moved over the hill under enemy fire to a point within a few yards of the gun emplacement and single-handedly destroyed the machine gun and killed three of the crew with a hand grenade, thus enabling his platoon to continue its advance. When the platoon, after reaching the crest, was once more delayed by enemy fire, PVT Crawford again, in the face of intense fire, advanced directly to the front midway between two hostile machine-gun nests located on a higher terrace and emplaced in a small ravine. Moving first to the left, with a hand grenade he destroyed one gun emplacement and killed the crew; he then worked his way, under continuous fire, to the other and with one grenade and the use of his rifle, killed one enemy and forced the remainder to flee. Seizing the enemy machine gun, he fired on the withdrawing Germans and facilitated his company’s advance.

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CPL Charles E. “Commando” Kelly, 23, USA (1920–1985)

Company L, 3rd Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division
Near Altavilla, Italy
September 13, 1943
Presented February 18, 1944

kelly

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to CPL Charles E. Kelly, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division.

On September 13, 1943, near Altavilla, Italy, CPL Kelly voluntarily joined a patrol which located and neutralized enemy machine-gun positions. After this hazardous duty he volunteered to establish contact with a battalion of U.S. infantry which was believed to be located on Hill 315, a mile distant. He traveled over a route commanded by enemy observation and under sniper, mortar, and artillery fire; and later he returned with the correct information that the enemy occupied Hill 315 in organized positions. Immediately thereafter CPL Kelly, again a volunteer patrol member, assisted materially in the destruction of two enemy machine-gun nests under conditions requiring great skill and courage. Having effectively fired his weapon until all the ammunition was exhausted, he secured permission to obtain more at an ammunition dump. Arriving at the dump, which was located near a storehouse on the extreme flank of his regiment’s position, CPL Kelly found that the Germans were attacking ferociously at this point. He obtained his ammunition and was given the mission of protecting the rear of the storehouse. He held his position throughout the night. The following morning, the enemy attack was resumed. CPL Kelly took a position at an open window of the storehouse. One machine-gunner had been killed at this position and several other soldiers wounded. CPL Kelly delivered continuous aimed and effective fire upon the enemy with his automatic rifle until the weapon locked from overheating. Finding another automatic rifle, he again directed effective fire upon the enemy until this weapon also locked. At this critical point, with the enemy threatening to overrun the position, CPL Kelly picked up 60-mm. mortar shells, pulled the safety pins, and used the shells as grenades, killing at least five of the enemy. When it became imperative that the house be evacuated, CPL Kelly, despite his sergeant’s injunctions, volunteered to hold the position until the remainder of the detachment could withdraw. As the detachment moved out, CPL Kelly was observed deliberately loading and firing a rocket launcher from the window. He was successful in covering the withdrawal of the unit, and later in joining his own organization. CPL Kelly’s fighting determination and intrepidity in battle exemplify the highest traditions of the U.S. Armed Forces.

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2LT Ernest “Chief” Childers, 25, USA (1918–2005)

Company C, 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division
Oliveto, Italy
September 22, 1943
Presented April 12, 1944

CHILDERS

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to 2LT Ernest “Chief” Childers, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action on September 22, 1943, at Oliveto, Italy, while serving with Company C, 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division.

Although 2LT Childers previously had just suffered a fractured instep, he, with eight enlisted men, advanced up a hill toward enemy machine-gun nests. The group advanced to a rock wall overlooking a cornfield and 2LT Childers ordered a base of fire laid across the field so that he could advance. When he was fired upon by two enemy snipers from a nearby house he killed both of them. He moved behind the machine-gun nests and killed all occupants of the nearer one. He continued toward the second one and threw rocks into it. When the two occupants of the nest raised up, he shot one. The other was killed by one of the eight enlisted men. 2LT Childers continued his advance toward a house farther up the hill, and single-handed, captured an enemy mortar observer. The exceptional leadership, initiative, calmness under fire, and conspicuous gallantry displayed by 2LT Childers were an inspiration to his men.

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CPL James Daniel Slaton, 31, USA (1912–1961)

Company K, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division
Near Oliveto, Italy
September 23, 1943
Presented June 7, 1944

Slaton

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to CPL James Daniel Slaton, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company K, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, in action with the enemy in the vicinity of Oliveto, Italy, on September 23, 1943.

CPL Slaton was lead scout of an infantry squad which had been committed to a flank to knock out enemy resistance which had succeeded in pinning two attacking platoons to the ground. Working ahead of his squad, CPL Slaton crept upon an enemy machine-gun nest and, assaulting it with his bayonet, succeeded in killing the gunner. When his bayonet stuck, he detached it from the rifle and killed another gunner with rifle fire. At that time he was fired upon by a machine gun to his immediate left. CPL Slaton then moved over open ground under constant fire to within throwing distance, and on his second try scored a direct hit on the second enemy machine-gun nest, killing two enemy gunners. At that time a third machine gun fired on him 100 yards to his front, and CPL Slaton killed both of these enemy gunners with rifle fire. As a result of CPL Slaton’s heroic action in immobilizing three enemy machine-gun nests with bayonet, grenade, and rifle fire, the two rifle platoons which were receiving heavy casualties from enemy fire were enabled to withdraw to covered positions and again take the initiative. CPL Slaton withdrew under mortar fire on order of his platoon leader at dusk that evening. The heroic actions of CPL Slaton were far above and beyond the call of duty and are worthy of emulation.