Some American Heroes
On this Memorial Day America remembers and commemorates those who have fallen in war. In this spirit I have looked up the stories of a few Medal of Honor winners who died in the course of winning their medal. These are little known heroes of America, all but forgotten by the world at large. There’s no deeper meaning here, this is just to remind us that those who die in war are real people with families, friends, hopes, and dreams.
I’ve quoted their official story as explained in the citation they received honouring them with the medal. And then what personal information, if any, I could find for them. To their memories, and in the memories of every fighting man or woman who has laid down their life for America, this post is dedicated. As long as they are remembered, they still live.
CHARLES H. SMITH
“On board the U.S.S. Rhode Island which was engaged in rescuing men from the stricken Monitor in Mobile Bay, on December 30, 1862. After the Monitor sprang a leak and went down, Smith courageously risked his life in a gallant attempt to rescue members of the crew. Although he, too, lost his life during the hazardous operation, he had made every effort possible to save the lives of his fellow men.”
Charles was born in Maine in 1826. That’s about all I could find about him, he is not to be confused with another medal of honour winner of the same name, who survived the war and wrote about it. Charles was in his thirties when he died, so he must have been a volunteer or career navy.
ALBERT E. BAESEL
“Died near Ivoiry, France, 27 September 1918. Upon hearing that a squad leader of his platoon had been severely wounded while attempting to capture an enemy machinegun nest about 200 yards in advance of the assault line and somewhat to the right, 2d Lt. Baesel requested permission to go to the rescue of the wounded corporal. After thrice repeating his request and permission having been reluctantly given, due to the heavy artillery, rifle, and machinegun fire, and heavy deluge of gas in which the company was at the time, accompanied by a volunteer, he worked his way forward, and reaching the wounded man, placed him upon his shoulders and was instantly killed by enemy fire.”
Albert was born in 1890 in a small farmhouse in the little town of Berea, Ohio. The farmhouse still stands, I find that incredibly poignant for some reason. He volunteered for duty in World War One, and was 28 when he died. His family remembers him still.
WEEDON E. OSBORNE
“Bouresche, France, on 6 June 1918. In the hottest of the fighting when the marines made their famous advance on Bouresche at the southern edge of Belleau Wood, Lt (j.g.). Osborne threw himself zealously into the work of rescuing the wounded. Extremely courageous in the performance of this perilous task, he was killed while carrying a wounded officer to a place of safety.”
Weedon was born in 1892 in Chicago Illinois. He was a dentist by trade. He is long forgotten, I couldn’t find out any more about him, the picture above is the only known image of him. A US Destroyer (DD-295) was named after Weedon.
HAROLD CHRIST AGERHOLM
“Died in action against enemy Japanese forces on Saipan, Marianas Islands, 7 July 1944. When the enemy launched a fierce, determined counterattack against our positions and overran a neighboring artillery battalion, Pfc. Agerholm immediately volunteered to assist in the efforts to check the hostile attack and evacuate our wounded. Locating and appropriating an abandoned ambulance jeep, he repeatedly made extremely perilous trips under heavy rifle and mortar fire and single-handedly loaded and evacuated approximately 45 casualties, working tirelessly and with utter disregard for his own safety during a grueling period of more than 3 hours. Despite intense, persistent enemy fire, he ran out to aid 2 men whom he believed to be wounded marines but was himself mortally wounded by a Japanese sniper while carrying out his hazardous mission.”
Harold was born in Racine, Wisconsin in 1925. He joined the service just five months after graduating High School. A ship (USS Agerholm) was named after him, as well as two schools in Racine. His mother was given his medal in private, as she didn’t want a public presentation. He wasn’t even twenty when he died.
RICHARD DAVID DEWERT
“Korea, 5 April 1951. When a fire team from the point platoon of his company was pinned down by a deadly barrage of hostile automatic weapons fired and suffered many casualties, HC Dewert rushed to the assistance of 1 of the more seriously wounded and, despite a painful leg wound sustained while dragging the stricken marine to safety, steadfastly refused medical treatment for himself and immediately dashed back through the fire-swept area to carry a second wounded man out of the line of fire. Undaunted by the mounting hail of devastating enemy fire, he bravely moved forward a third time and received another serious wound in the shoulder after discovering that a wounded marine had already died. Still persistent in his refusal to submit to first aid, he resolutely answered the call of a fourth stricken comrade and, while rendering medical assistance, was himself mortally wounded by a burst of enemy fire.”
Richard was born in Tauton, Massachusetts in 1931. He enlisted when he was seventeen and also died before he was twenty. I could find out no other personal information about him. A US Frigate (FFG-45) was named in his honour, as is a housing project in Tauton.
THOMAS J. McMAHON
“Quang Tin province, Republic of Vietnam, 19 March 1969. When the lead elements of his company came under heavy fire from well-fortified enemy positions, 3 soldiers fell seriously wounded. Sp4c. McMahon, with complete disregard for his safety, left his covered position and ran through intense enemy fire to the side of 1 of the wounded, administered first aid and then carried him to safety. He returned through the hail of fire to the side of a second wounded man. Although painfully wounded by an exploding mortar round while returning the wounded man to a secure position, Sp4c. McMahon refused medical attention and heroically ran back through the heavy enemy fire toward his remaining wounded comrade. He fell mortally wounded before he could rescue the last man. ”
Thomas was born in 1948 in Washington, DC. He had an elementary school named for him in Lewiston, Maine. He is remembered there, where he lived.
“Greater Love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
(The text in quotations above is from the U.S. Army Center of Military History. I’m guessing that it’s public domain under US copyright law, being a product of the federal government. Some of the above images are public domain, the others are claimed as Fair Use. And I can’t see someone objecting to their use in a memorial post in any event.)