1609 – Official ratification of the Second Charter of Virginia takes place.
1701 – At London’s Execution Dock, British privateer William Kidd, popularly known as Captain Kidd, is hanged for piracy and murder. Born in Strathclyde, Scotland, Kidd established himself as a sea captain before settling in New York in 1690, where he bought property and married. At various times he was commissioned by New York and other American colonies to rid the coast of enemy privateers. In 1695, while on a trip to London, the recently appointed governor of New York commissioned him to defend English ships from pirates in the Red Sea. In 1696, Kidd sailed to New York aboard the Adventure Galley, enlisted men for the mission, and set sail for the Indian Ocean. The expedition met with little success and failed to capture a major prize until February 1698, when the Quedagh Merchant, an Indian vessel allegedly sailing under a French pass, was taken. Word of Kidd’s capture of the boat, which was loaded with gold, jewels, silk, sugar, and guns, aroused significant controversy in Britain, as the ship had an English captain. Suspicions that he had turned to piracy were apparently confirmed when he sailed to St. Mary’s, Madagascar, an infamous pirate haven. From there, he traveled to the West Indies on the Quedagh Merchant, where he learned of the piracy charges against him. Intending to clear his name, he sailed to New York and delivered himself to the colonial authorities, claiming that the vessels he had attacked were lawful prizes. He was arrested and taken to London. In 1701, he was tried on five charges of piracy and one charge of murdering a crewman. The Tories used the trial as a political opportunity to embarrass his Whig sponsors, and the latter chose to give up Kidd as a scapegoat rather than back his possibly correct claims to legitimacy. Convicted on all counts, he was executed by hanging on May 23, 1701. In later years, a colorful legend grew up around the story of William Kidd, including reports of lost buried treasure that fortune seekers have pursued for centuries.
1788 – South Carolina became the eighth state to ratify the U. S. Constitution.
1846 – President Mariano Paredes of Mexico unofficially declares war on the United States.
1850 – Navy sends USS Advance and USS Rescue to attempt rescue of Sir John Franklin’s expedition, lost in Arctic.
1861 – Virginia citizens voted 3 to 1 in favor of secession, becoming the last Confederate state.
1861 – Pro Union and pro Confederate forces clashed in Clarksburg, West Virginia.
1861 – U.S.S. Mississippi. Flag Officer William Mervine, was compelled to put back into Boston for repairs because of sabotage damage to her condensers.
1862 – Stonewall Jackson took Fort Royal, Virginia, in the Valley Campaign.
1864 – The campaign between Union commander Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, continues southward to the North Anna River around Hanover Junction. In early May, Grant crossed the Rapidan River with the Army of the Potomac and then clashed with Lee’s forces in the Wilderness on May 5 and 6 before racing to Spotsylvania Court House for an epic 12-day battle. Grant’s continuous pressure on Lee would ultimately win the war, but he was racking up casualties at a rate that was difficult for the Northern public to stomach. Grant believed that Lee could not maintain his position at Spotsylvania because two other Union armies under the command of Franz Sigel and Benjamin Butler were attempting to cut off the Confederate supply line in the Shenandoah Valley and the Rebel stronghold south of Richmond. But both were failing miserably. By May 19, Grant had had enough of Spotsylvania. He pulled his troops to try another run around Lee to Richmond. Correctly predicting Grant’s move, just as he had done two weeks before when Grant left the Wilderness for Spotsylvania, Lee raced the Yankees 20 miles south and beat Grant’s troops to the North Anna River. The rail center here was crucial to his supplies. At the North Anna, Grant found Lee’s position to be even stronger than at Spotsylvania. The river had high banks, and Lee’s side was higher than the Union side in several places. Still, Grant made an attempt to dislodge the Rebels. He made two assaults, but neither came close to breaking the Confederate lines. He would try again the next day before moving south to Cold Harbor.
1864 – U.S.S. Columbine, Acting Ensign Sanborn, was captured after a heated engagement with Confederate batteries and riflemen at Horse Landing, near Palatka, Florida. Columbine, a 130-ton side-wheeler operating in support of Union Army forces and with soldiers embarked, lost steering control and ran onto a mud bank, where she was riddled by the accurate Confederate fire. With some 20 men killed and wounded, Sanborn surrendered “to prevent the further useless expenditure of human life.” Shortly after taking the prize, the Southerners destroyed her to avoid recapture by U.S.S. Ottawa, Lieutenant Commander Breese. Ottawa, cooperating with the Army in the same operation, had also been fired upon the night before and suffered damage but no casualties before compelling the Confederate battery at Brown’s Landing to withdraw.
1865 – The American flag was flown at full staff over White House for the 1st time since Lincoln was shot. Union Army’s Grand Review began in Washington DC.
1881 – Kit Carson, frontiersman, died.
1899 – Marines arrived to secure Cavite Naval Base, Philippines.
1900 – Sergeant William Harvey Carney is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery on July 18, 1863, while fighting for the Union cause as a member of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry. He was the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor, which is the nation’s highest military honor. The 54th Massachusetts, formed in early 1863, served as the prototype for African American regiments in the Union army. On July 16, 1863, the regiment saw its first action at James Island, South Carolina, performing admirably in a confrontation with experienced Confederate troops. Three days later, the 54th volunteered to lead the assault on Fort Wagner, a highly fortified outpost on Morris Island that was part of the Confederate defense of Charleston Harbor. Struggling against a lethal barrage of cannon and rifle fire, the regiment fought their way to the top of the fort’s parapet over several hours. Sergeant William Harvey Carney was wounded there while planting the U.S. flag. The regiment’s white commander, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, was killed, and his soldiers were overwhelmed by the fort’s defenders and had to fall back. Despite his wound, Carney refused to retreat until he removed the flag, and though successful, he was shot again in the process. The 54th lost 281 of its 600 men in its brave attempt to take Fort Wagner, which throughout the war never fell by force of arms. The 54th went on to perform honorably in expeditions in Georgia and Florida, most notably at the Battle of Olustee. Carney eventually recovered and was discharged with disability on June 30, 1864.
1908 – Part of the Great White Fleet arrived in Puget Sound, Washington.
1930 – Lieutenant Commander Elmer F. Stone received a medal from Congress for extraordinary achievement in making the first successful trans-Atlantic flight in 1919. Stone was the pilot of the Navy’s NC-4.
1934 – The Auto-Lite strike culminates in the “Battle of Toledo”, a five-day melée between 1,300 troops of the Ohio National Guard and 6,000 picketers.
1939 – The US submarine Squalus sank off the coast of New Hampshire. A diving bell designed by Charles “Swede” Momsen (d.1967) brought 33 survivors (26 perished) safely to the surface. This was the first successful undersea rescue operation to retrieve a sunken submarine crew.
1943 – The USS New Jersey, Admiral “Bull” Halsey’s flagship during WWII and the only Battleship to provide gunfire support during the Vietnam War, is commissioned in Philadelphia, PA for service in WWII. BB62 was built at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, and launched December 7, 1942- just a year after the Pearl Harbor Attack brought America into WWII. The USS New Jersey (BB62) was actually the second ship to be called “New Jersey”, the first being BB16, a turn of the century (19th century) battleship. The first Battleship New Jersey (BB-16) was a Virginia class pre-dreadnought that served from 1906 until she was sunk as a bombing target in 1922. She sailed with the Great White Fleet and served her country in World War I as a training vessel. New Jersey was decommissioned on February 8, 1991 in Long Beach, California and later towed to Bremerton, Washington where she resided until heading home to New Jersey. She was officially stricken from the Navy list on February 12,1995 but was then ordered reinstated by an order of congress as a mobilization asset under Bill 1024 section 1011. On January 4, 1999 New Jersey was again stricken from the Navy list and IOWA replaced her as a mobilization asset. On September 12, 1999 New Jersey began her Final Voyage home from Bremerton, where she had rested in mothballs for the last 8 years. On November 11th, she arrived at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Since that time, she has been restored, opened and established as an educational museum and a tribute to the brave sailors who served on her during her long and distinguished career. The Battleship New Jersey opened as a Museum and Memorial in October 2001.
1944 – The US 6th Corps in the Anzio beachhead launches an attack on Cisterna. German resistance results in high Allied casualties. Meanwhile, the US 5th Army continues offensive operations. US 2nd Corps patrols reach Terracina. Both the French Expeditionary Corps and the Canadian 1st Corps penetrate the German-held Senger Line. The Canadians break through by the end of the day.
1944 – American forces encounter heavy resistance in their advance westward from Arare toward Sarmi. At Aitape, Japanese attacks continue to force the Americans to fall back.
1944 – US Task Group 58.2 (Admiral Montgomery) launches air raids on Japanese positions on Wake Island.
1945 – American attacks bring shipping at Yokohama to a halt.
1945 – On Okinawa, after occupying Naha, the US 6th Marine Division (part of US 3rd Amphibious Corps) encounters heavy Japanese resistance to attempts to advance further south.
1945 – At Flensburg, the successor government of the Third Reich, including Karl Donitz, the nominal Fuhrer, as well as the German military leadership, are all arrested on the orders of General Eisenhower. At Luneburg, Heinrich Himmler commits suicide while being examined by a doctor at the headquarters of the British 2nd Army. He had been stripped and searched but bit down on a hidden phial of cyanide when the doctor attempted to stick a finger in his mouth. At St. Johann, US troops uncover $4 million in mixed currencies believed to belong to Himmler. In Bavaria, the former leading Nazi anti-Semitic propagandist, Julius Streicher, is arrested by Americans.
1946 – The end of World War II unleashed a torrent of labor activity. Workers, whose wages had been frozen in the name of the war effort, strove not only to boost their take-home pay, but to preserve the modest cost of living that wartime price caps had helped establish. On this day in 1946, the nation’s rail workers got into the act and headed to the picket line to agitate for fairer compensation. The ensuing strike, led by the Railroad Trainmen and Locomotive Brotherhoods, effectively stopped up the nation’s still rail-heavy transportation network and enabled the workers to win better wages. The thrill of this victory was short-lived, however, as the rail unions, along with other labor organizations, failed in their quest to maintain price controls. Under heavy pressure from business leaders, who were more concerned with their respective bottom-lines than the ravages of inflation, President Harry Truman eventually acquiesced and rolled back price controls. As the unions had feared, the demise of price caps sparked a heady wave of inflation that washed away the rail workers’ post-war wage gains.
1946 – Commodore Edward M. Webster, USCG, headed the US Delegation to the International Meeting on Radio Aids to Marine Navigation, which was held in London, England. As a result of this meeting, the principal maritime nations of the world agreed to make an intensive study of the World War II-developed devices of radar, LORAN, radar beacons, and other navigational aids with a view to adapt them to peacetime use. This was the first time that the wartime technical secrets of radar and LORAN were generally disclosed to the public.
1949 – The Federal Republic of Germany (popularly known as West Germany) is formally established as a separate and independent nation. This action marked the effective end to any discussion of reuniting East and West Germany. In the period after World War II, Germany was divided into four occupation zones, with the British, French, Americans, and Soviets each controlling one zone. The city of Berlin was also divided in a like fashion. This arrangement was supposed to be temporary, but as Cold War animosities began to harden, it became increasingly evident that the division between the communist and non-communist controlled sections of Germany and Berlin would become permanent. In May 1946, the United States halted reparation payments from West Germany to the Soviet Union. In December, the United States and Great Britain combined their occupation zones into what came to be known as Bizonia. France agreed to become part of this arrangement, and in May 1949, the three zones became one. On May 23, the West German Parliamentary Council met and formally declared the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany. Although Konrad Adenauer, the president of the council and future president of West Germany, proudly proclaimed, “Today a new Germany arises,” the occasion was not a festive one. Many of the German representatives at the meeting were subdued, for they had harbored the faint hope that Germany might be reunified. Two communist members of the council refused to sign the proclamation establishing the new state. The Soviets reacted quickly to the action in West Germany. In October 1949, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) was officially announced. These actions in 1949 marked the end of any talk of a reunified Germany. For the next 41 years, East and West Germany served as symbols of the divided world, and of the Cold War animosities between the Soviet Union and the United States. In 1990, with Soviet strength ebbing and the Communist Party in East Germany steadily losing its grip on power, East and West Germany were finally reunited as one nation.
1951 – Eighth Army advanced toward the Kansas and Wyoming Lines to the base of the Iron Triangle against stiffening enemy resistance. By the end of May, the communists had suffered 17,000 killed and an equal number were taken prisoner.
1958 – The satellite Explorer 1 ceases transmission.
1961 – Vice-President Johnson reports to President Kennedy on his visit to Asia. Giving Thailand and Vietnam pivotal significance, he reports that the United States must either aid these countries or ‘pull back our defenses to San Francisco and a “Fortress America” concept.’ he feels Asian leaders would welcome US troops if openly attacked.
1962 – Launch of Aurora 7 (Mercury 7), piloted by LCDR Malcolm Scott Carpenter, USN, who completed 3 orbits in 4 hours, 56 minutes at an altitude up to 166.8 statute miles at 17,549 mph. He was picked up by HSS-2 helicopters from USS Intrepid (CVS-11). The capsule was recovered by USS John R. Pierce (DD-753).
1964 – Assistant Secretary of State William Bundy directs the drawing up of a three-day scenario that, while publicly pretending that the US and South Vietnam are trying to avoid widening the war, assumes that the US will begin full-scale bombing against the North.
1967 – A public controversy over the M-16, the basic combat rifle in Vietnam, begins after Representative James J. Howard (D-New Jersey) reads a letter to the House of Representatives in which a Marine in Vietnam claims that almost all Americans killed in the battle for Hill 881 died as a result of their new M-16 rifles jamming. The Defense Department acknowledged on August 28 that there had been a “serious increase in frequency of malfunctions in the M-16.” The M-16 had become the standard U.S. infantry rifle in Vietnam earlier in 1967, replacing the M-14. Almost two pounds lighter and five inches shorter than the M-14, but with the same effective range of over 500 yards, it fired a smaller, lighter 5.56-mm cartridge. The M-16 could be fired fully automatic (like a machine gun) or one shot at a time. Because the M-16 was rushed into mass production, early models were plagued by stoppages that caused some units to request a reissue of the M-14. Technical investigation revealed a variety of causes for the defect, in both the weapon and ammunition design, and in care and cleaning in the field. With these deficiencies corrected, the M-16 became a popular infantry rifle that was able to hold its own against the Soviet-made AK-47 assault rifle used by the enemy.
1968 – At the conclusion of an experimental civic affairs program in Longan province, John Paul Vann and other US advisors issue a report recommending widespread changes in the pacification effort. The report states that Saigon has little understanding of its people’s needs and has consistently failed to provide adequate funds and services for grass-roots programs. As a result, the Vietcong continue to collect taxes and recruit troops from many hamlets that the government claims it has pacified.
1971 – North Vietnamese demolition experts infiltrate the major U.S. air base at Cam Ranh Bay, blowing up six tanks of aviation fuel, which resulted in the loss of about 1.5 million gallons. U.S. commander Creighton Abrams criticized the inadequate security.
1972 – Heavy U.S. air attacks that began with an order by President Richard Nixon on May 8 are widened to include more industrial and non-military sites. In 190 strikes, the United States lost one plane but shot down four. The new strikes were part of the ongoing Operation Linebacker, an effort launched in response to the massive North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam on March 30. The purpose of the raids were to interdict supplies from outside sources and the movement of equipment and supplies to the North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam. The strikes concentrated on rail lines around Hanoi and Haiphong, bridges, pipelines, power plants, troops and troop training facilities, and rail lines to China.
1977 – The US Supreme Court refused to hear appeals of former Nixon White House aides H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman & John Mitchell in connection with their Watergate convictions.
1988 – The V-22 Osprey, the world’s first production tilt-rotor aircraft, made its debut during rollout ceremonies at Bell Helicopter Textron’s Arlington, Texas, facility. More than 1,000 representatives from the military, industry, and media, gathered to hear various speakers, including Gen Alfred Gray, Commandant of the Marine Corps, praise the versatile rotor craft designed to meet the needs of 21st Century battlefields.
1992 – Pres. Bush ordered the Coast Guard to intercept boats with Haitian refugees.
1992 – The United States and four former Soviet republics signed an agreement in Lisbon, Portugal, to implement the START missile-reduction treaty that had been agreed to by the Soviet Union prior to its dissolution.
1995 – The nine-story hulk of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was demolished. That day, James Nichols, whose brother and a friend were charged in the Oklahoma bombing, was released from federal custody.
1995 – The first version of the Java programming language is released.
1999 – In Iraq US planes bombed Iraqi defense systems.
2001 – Iraq threatens to halt oil exports if a British-US proposed Security Council resolution on a new sanctions regime is enacted.
2002 – The Pentagon reported that the Defense Dept. sprayed live nerve and biological agents over Navy ships in 6 six tests between 1964-1968. The Project shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD) experiments included the use of sarin and VX nerve gases and the staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB).
2002 – The UN voted to extend the mandate for an int’l. force in Afghanistan for 6 months but with no expansion of troops or presence beyond Kabul.
2003 – The Iraqi Army is disbanded.
2004 – In Iraq US troops battled fighters loyal to a radical Muslim cleric in his stronghold of Kufa, and at least 32 insurgents were killed. Gunmen killed a police captain and a university student who were headed by car to Baghdad from Baqouba. Insurants loyal to al-Sadr gave up control of central Karbala.
2007 – PFC Anzack, one of three captured US soldiers in Iraq is found dead, during an extensive manhunt which occupied nearly 3% of US troops. On 12 May 2007, a U.S. military observation post near Mahmoudiyah in Iraq was attacked. Four American and one Iraqi soldiers manning the post were killed, three other Americans: PFC Joseph Anzack, PVT Byron Fouty, and SPC Alex Jimenez, were abducted and found killed later. Anzack’s body was pulled out of the Euphrates River, with a gunshot wound in the head.
2012 – The Iranian navy assists an American cargo ship that was attacked by pirates off the United Arab Emirates.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
BRYANT, ANDREW S.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company A, 46th Massachusetts Infantry. Place and date: At New Bern, N.C., 23 May 1863. Entered service at: Massachusetts. Born: 3 March 1841, Springfield, Mass. Date of issue: 13 August 1873. Citation: By his courage and judicious disposition of his guard of 16 men, stationed in a small earthwork at the head of the bridge, held in check and repulsed for a half hour a fierce attack of a strong force of the enemy, thus probably saving the city New Bern from capture.
Rank and organization: Sergeant Major, 182d New York Infantry. Place and date: At North Anna River, Va., 23 May 1864. Entered service at: Staten Island, N.Y. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 25 October 1867. Citation: Voluntarily and at the risk of his life carried orders to the brigade commander, which resulted in saving the works his regiment was defending.
KIRK, JONATHAN C.
Rank and organization: Captain, Company F, 20th Indiana Infantry. Place and date: At North Anna River, Va., 23 May 1864. Entered service at: Wilmington, Ohio. Birth: Clinton County, Ohio. Date of issue: 13 June 1894. Citation: Volunteered for dangerous service and single-handedly captured 13 armed Confederate soldiers and marched them to the rear.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, Co. H, and 2d Lt. Co. M, 1st Maryland Inf. Place and date: At Front Royal, Va., 23 May 1862. At Weldon Railroad, Va., 19 August 1864. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Washington, D.C. Date of issue: 2 August 1897. Citation: When a sergeant, at Front Royal, Va., he was painfully wounded while obeying an order to burn a bridge, but, persevering in the attempt, he burned the bridge and prevented its use by the enemy. Later, at Weldon Railroad, Va., then a lieutenant, he voluntarily took the place of a disabled officer and undertook a hazardous reconnaissance beyond the lines of the army; was taken prisoner in the attempt.
Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company A, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Sycamore Canyon, Ariz., 23 May 1872. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 12 April 1875. Citation: Consplcuous gallantry in a charge upon the Tonto Apaches.
CRANDALL, ORSON L.
Rank and organization: Chief Boatswain’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Place and date: At sea following sinking of U.S.S. Squalus, 13 May 1939. Born: 2 February 1903, St. Joseph, Mo. Entered service at: Connecticut. Citation: For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as a master diver throughout the rescue and salvage operations following the sinking of the U.S.S. Squalus on 23 May 1939. His leadership and devotion to duty in directing diving operations and in making important and difficult dives under the most hazardous conditions characterize conduct far above and beyond the ordinary call of duty.
McDONALD, JAMES HARPER
Rank and organization: Chief Metalsmith, U.S. Navy. Place and date: Area at sea of sinking of the U.S.S. Squalus, 23 May 1939. Entered service at: Washington, D.C. Born: 15 July 1900, Scotland. Citation: For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as a master diver throughout the rescue and salvage operations following the sinking of the U.S.S. Squalus on 23 May 1939. His leadership, masterly skill, general efficiency, and untiring devotion to duty in directing diving operations, and in making important and difficult dives under the most hazardous conditions, characterize conduct far above and beyond the ordinary call of duty.
Rank and organization: Torpedoman First Class, U.S. Navy. Place and date: Area at sea of the sinking of the U.S.S. Squalus, 23 May 1939. Entered service at: Massachusetts. Born: 12 August 1910, Worcester, Mass. Citation: For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession during the rescue and salvage operations following the sinking of the U.S.S. Squalus on 23 May 1939. Mihalowski, as a member of the rescue chamber crew, made the last extremely hazardous trip of the rescue chamber to attempt the rescue of any possible survivors in the flooded after portion of the Squalus. He was fully aware of the great danger involved, in that, if he and the other member of the crew became incapacitated, there was no way in which either could be rescued. During the salvage operations Mihalowski made important and difficult dives under the most hazardous conditions. His outstanding performance of duty contributed much to the success of the operations and characterizes conduct far above and beyond the ordinary call of duty.
BARFOOT, VAN T.
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 157th Infantry, 45th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Carano, Italy, 23 May 1944. Entered service at: Carthage, Miss. Birth: Edinburg, Miss. G.O. No.: 79, 4 October 1944. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 23 May 1944, near Carano, Italy. With his platoon heavily engaged during an assault against forces well entrenched on commanding ground, 2d Lt. Barfoot (then Tech. Sgt.) moved off alone upon the enemy left flank. He crawled to the proximity of 1 machinegun nest and made a direct hit on it with a hand grenade, killing 2 and wounding 3 Germans. He continued along the German defense line to another machinegun emplacement, and with his tommygun killed 2 and captured 3 soldiers. Members of another enemy machinegun crew then abandoned their position and gave themselves up to Sgt. Barfoot. Leaving the prisoners for his support squad to pick up, he proceeded to mop up positions in the immediate area, capturing more prisoners and bringing his total count to 17. Later that day, after he had reorganized his men and consolidated the newly captured ground, the enemy launched a fierce armored counterattack directly at his platoon positions. Securing a bazooka, Sgt. Barfoot took up an exposed position directly in front of 3 advancing Mark VI tanks. From a distance of 75 yards his first shot destroyed the track of the leading tank, effectively disabling it, while the other 2 changed direction toward the flank. As the crew of the disabled tank dismounted, Sgt. Barfoot killed 3 of them with his tommygun. He continued onward into enemy terrain and destroyed a recently abandoned German fieldpiece with a demolition charge placed in the breech. While returning to his platoon position, Sgt. Barfoot, though greatly fatigued by his Herculean efforts, assisted 2 of his seriously wounded men 1,700 yards to a position of safety. Sgt. Barfoot’s extraordinary heroism, demonstration of magnificent valor, and aggressive determination in the face of pointblank fire are a perpetual inspiration to his fellow soldiers.
DERVISHIAN, ERNEST H.
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 34th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Cisterna, Italy, 23 May 1944. Entered service at: Richmond, Va. Birth: Richmond, Va. G.O. No.: 3, 8 January 1945. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 23 May 1944, in the vicinity of Cisterna, Italy. 2d Lt. Dervishian (then Tech. Sgt.) and 4 members of his platoon found themselves far ahead of their company after an aggressive advance in the face of enemy artillery and sniper fire. Approaching a railroad embankment, they observed a force of German soldiers hiding in dugouts. 2d Lt. Dervishian, directing his men to cover him, boldly moved forward and firing his carbine forced 10 Germans to surrender. His men then advanced and captured 15 more Germans occupying adjacent dugouts. The prisoners were returned to the rear to be picked up by advancing units. From the railroad embankment, 2d Lt. Dervishian and his men then observed 9 Germans who were fleeing across a ridge. He and his men opened fire and 3 of the enemy were wounded. As his men were firing, 2d Lt. Dervishian, unnoticed, fearlessly dashed forward alone and captured all of the fleeing enemy before his companions joined him on the ridge. At this point 4 other men joined 2d Lt. Dervishian’s group. An attempt was made to send the 4 newly arrived men along the left flank of a large, dense vineyard that lay ahead, but murderous machinegun fire forced them back. Deploying his men, 2d Lt. Dervishian moved to the front of his group and led the advance into the vineyard. He and his men suddenly became pinned down by a machinegun firing at them at a distance of 15 yards. Feigning death while the hostile weapon blazed away at him, 2d Lt. Dervishian assaulted the position during a halt in the firing, using a hand grenade and carbine fire, and forced the 4 German crewmembers to surrender. The 4 men on the left flank were now ordered to enter the vineyard but encountered machinegun fire which killed 1 soldier and wounded another. At this moment the enemy intensified the fight by throwing potato-masher grenades at the valiant band of American soldiers within the vineyard. 2d Lt. Dervishian ordered his men to withdraw; but instead of following, jumped into the machinegun position he had just captured and opened fire with the enemy weapon in the direction of the second hostile machinegun nest. Observing movement in a dugout 2 or 3 yards to the rear, 2d Lt. Dervishian seized a machine pistol. Simultaneously blazing away at the entrance to the dugout to prevent its occupants from firing and firing his machinegun at the other German nest, he forced 5 Germans in each position to surrender. Determined to rid the area of all Germans, 2d Lt. Dervishian continued his advance alone. Noticing another machinegun position beside a house, he picked up an abandoned machine pistol and forced 6 more Germans to surrender by spraying their position with fire. Unable to locate additional targets in the vicinity, 2d Lt. Dervishian conducted these prisoners to the rear. The prodigious courage and combat skill exhibited by 2d Lt. Dervishian are exemplary of the finest traditions of the U.S. Armed Forces.
*DUTKO, JOHN W.
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Ponte Rotto, Italy, 23 May 1944. Entered service at: Riverside, N.J. Birth: Dilltown, Pa. G.O. No.: 80, 5 October 1944. citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, on 23 May 1944, near Ponte Rotto, Italy. Pfc. Dutko left the cover of an abandoned enemy trench at the height of an artillery concentration in a single-handed attack upon 3 machineguns and an 88mm. mobile gun. Despite the intense fire of these 4 weapons which were aimed directly at him, Pfc. Dutko ran 10.0 yards through the impact area, paused momentarily in a shell crater, and then continued his l-man assault. Although machinegun bullets kicked up the dirt at his heels, and 88mm. shells exploded within 30 yards of him, Pfc. Dutko nevertheless made his way to a point within 30 yards of the first enemy machinegun and killed both gunners with a hand grenade. Although the second machinegun wounded him, knocking him to the ground, Pfc. Dutko regained his feet and advanced on the 88mm. gun, firing his Browning automatic rifle from the hip. When he came within 10 yards of this weapon he killed its 5-man crew with 1 long burst of fire. Wheeling on the machinegun which had wounded him, Pfc. Dutko killed the gunner and his assistant. The third German machinegun fired on Pfc. Dutko from a position 20 yards distant wounding him a second time as he proceeded toward the enemy weapon in a half run. He killed both members of its crew with a single burst from his Browning automatic rifle, continued toward the gun and died, his body falling across the dead German crew.
*FOWLER, THOMAS W.
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 1st Armored Division. Place and date: Near Carano, Italy, 23 May 1944. Entered service at: Wichita Falls, Tex. Birth: Wichita Falls, Tex. G.O. No.: 84, 28 October, 1944. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, on 23 May 1944, in the vicinity of Carano, Italy. In the midst of a full-scale armored-infantry attack, 2d Lt. Fowler, while on foot, came upon 2 completely disorganized infantry platoons held up in their advance by an enemy minefield. Although a tank officer, he immediately reorganized the infantry. He then made a personal reconnaissance through the minefield, clearing a path as he went, by lifting the antipersonnel mines out of the ground with his hands. After he had gone through the 75-yard belt of deadly explosives, he returned to the infantry and led them through the minefield, a squad at a time. As they deployed, 2d Lt. Fowler, despite small arms fire and the constant danger of antipersonnel mines, made a reconnaissance into enemy territory in search of a route to continue the advance. He then returned through the minefield and, on foot, he led the tanks through the mines into a position from which they could best support the infantry. Acting as scout 300 yards in front of the infantry, he led the 2 platoons forward until he had gained his objective, where he came upon several dug-in enemy infantrymen. Having taken them by surprise, 2d Lt. Fowler dragged them out of their foxholes and sent them to the rear; twice, when they resisted, he threw hand grenades into their dugouts. Realizing that a dangerous gap existed between his company and the unit to his right, 2d Lt. Fowler decided to continue his advance until the gap was filled. He reconnoitered to his front, brought the infantry into position where they dug in and, under heavy mortar and small arms fire, brought his tanks forward. A few minutes later, the enemy began an armored counterattack. Several Mark Vl tanks fired their cannons directly on 2d Lt. Fowler’s position. One of his tanks was set afire. With utter disregard for his own life, with shells bursting near him, he ran directly into the enemy tank fire to reach the burning vehicle. For a half-hour, under intense strafing from the advancing tanks, although all other elements had withdrawn, he remained in his forward position, attempting to save the lives of the wounded tank crew. Only when the enemy tanks had almost overrun him, did he withdraw a short distance where he personally rendered first aid to 9 wounded infantrymen in the midst of the relentless incoming fire. 2d Lt. Fowler’s courage, his ability to estimate the situation and to recognize his full responsibility as an officer in the Army of the United States, exemplify the high traditions of the military service for which he later gave his life.
HALL, GEORGE J.
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, 135th Infantry, 34th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Anzio, Italy, 23 May 1944. Entered service at: Boston, Mass. Born: 9 January 1921, Stoneham, Mass. G.O. No.: 24, 6 April 1945. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Attacking across flat, open terrain under direct enemy observation, S/Sgt. Hall’s company was pinned down by grazing fire from 3 enemy machineguns and harassing sniper fire. S/Sgt. Hall volunteered to eliminate these obstacles in the path of advance. Crawling along a plowed furrow through furious machinegun fire, he made his way to a point within hand grenade range of 1 of the enemy positions. He pounded the enemy with 4 hand grenades, and when the smoke had died away, S/Sgt. Hall and 2 dead Germans occupied the position, while 4 of the enemy were crawling back to our lines as prisoners. Discovering a quantity of German potato-masher grenades in the position, S/Sgt. Hall engaged the second enemy nest in a deadly exchange of grenades. Each time he exposed himself to throw a grenade the Germans fired machinegun bursts at him. The vicious duel finally ended in S/Sgt. Hall’s favor with 5 of the enemy surrendered and 5 others lay dead. Turning his attention to the third machinegun, S/Sgt. Hall left his position and crawled along a furrow, the enemy firing frantically in an effort to halt him. As he neared his final objective, an enemy artillery concentration fell on the area, and S/Sgt. Hall’s right leg was severed by a shellburst. With 2 enemy machineguns eliminated, his company was able to flank the third and continue its advance without incurring excessive casualties. S/Sgt. Hall’s fearlessness, his determined fighting spirit, and his prodigious combat skill exemplify the heroic tradition of the American Infantryman.
*KESSLER, PATRICK L.
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company K, 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Ponte Rotto, Italy, 23 May 1944. Entered service at: Middletown, Ohio. Birth: Middletown, Ohio. G.O. No.: 1, 4 January 1945. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Kessler, acting without orders, raced 50 yards through a hail of machinegun fire, which had killed 5 of his comrades and halted the advance of his company, in order to form an assault group to destroy the machinegun. Ordering 3 men to act as a base of fire, he left the cover of a ditch and snaked his way to a point within 50 yards of the enemy machinegun before he was discovered, whereupon he plunged headlong into the furious chain of automatic fire. Reaching a spot within 6 feet of the emplacement he stood over it and killed both the gunner and his assistant, jumped into the gun position, overpowered and captured a third German after a short struggle. The remaining member of the crew escaped, but Pfc. Kessler wounded him as he ran. While taking his prisoner to the rear, this soldier saw 2 of his comrades killed as they assaulted an enemy strongpoint, fire from which had already killed 10 men in the company. Turning his prisoner over to another man, Pfc. Kessler crawled 35 yards to the side of 1 of the casualties, relieved him of his BAR and ammunition and continued on toward the strongpoint, 125 yards distant. Although 2 machineguns concentrated their fire directly on him and shells exploded within 10 yards, bowling him over, Pfc. Kessler crawled 75 yards, passing through an antipersonnel minefield to a point within 50 yards of the enemy and engaged the machineguns in a duel. When an artillery shell burst within a few feet of him, he left the cover of a ditch and advanced upon the position in a slow walk, firing his BAR from the hip. Although the enemy poured heavy machinegun and small arms fire at him, Pfc. Kessler succeeded in reaching the edge of their position, killed the gunners, and captured 13 Germans. Then, despite continuous shelling, he started to the rear. After going 25 yards, Pfc. Kessler was fired upon by 2 snipers only 100 yards away. Several of his prisoners took advantage of this opportunity and attempted to escape; however, Pfc. Kessler hit the ground, fired on either flank of his prisoners, forcing them to cover, and then engaged the 2 snipers in a fire fight, and captured them. With this last threat removed, Company K continued its advance, capturing its objective without further opposition. Pfc. Kessler was killed in a subsequent action.
SJOGREN, JOHN C.
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company I, 160th Infantry, 40th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near San Jose Hacienda, Negros, Philippine Islands, 23 May 1945. Entered service at: Rockford, Mich. Birth: Rockford, Mich. G.O. No.: 97, 1 November 1945. Citation: He led an attack against a high precipitous ridge defended by a company of enemy riflemen, who were entrenched in spider holes and supported by well-sealed pillboxes housing automatic weapons with interlocking bands of fire. The terrain was such that only 1 squad could advance at one time; and from a knoll atop a ridge a pillbox covered the only approach with automatic fire. Against this enemy stronghold, S/Sgt. Sjogren led the first squad to open the assault. Deploying his men, he moved forward and was hurling grenades when he saw that his next in command, at the opposite flank, was gravely wounded. Without hesitation he crossed 20 yards of exposed terrain in the face of enemy fire and exploding dynamite charges, moved the man to cover and administered first aid. He then worked his way forward and, advancing directly into the enemy fire, killed 8 Japanese in spider holes guarding the approach to the pillbox. Crawling to within a few feet of the pillbox while his men concentrated their bullets on the fire port, he began dropping grenades through the narrow firing slit. The enemy immediately threw 2 or 3 of these unexploded grenades out, and fragments from one wounded him in the hand and back. However, by hurling grenades through the embrasure faster then the enemy could return them, he succeeded in destroying the occupants. Despite his wounds, he directed his squad to follow him in a systematic attack on the remaining positions, which he eliminated in like manner, taking tremendous risks, overcoming bitter resistance, and never hesitating in his relentless advance. To silence one of the pillboxes, he wrenched a light machinegun out through the embrasure as it was firing before blowing up the occupants with handgrenades. During this action, S/Sgt. Sjogren, by his heroic bravery, aggressiveness, and skill as a soldier, single-handedly killed 43 enemy soldiers and destroyed 9 pillboxes, thereby paving the way for his company’s successful advance.
Rank and Organization: Private. U.S. Army. Company G, 2d Battalion. 7th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and Date: May 22-23, 1951, Changyongni, Korea. Born: April 29, 1933, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico . Departed: Yes (03/19/1967). Entered Service At: New York. G.O. Number: . Date of Issue: 03/18/2014. Accredited To: New York. Citation: Then-Pvt. Demensio Rivera is being recognized for his actions at Changyongni, Korea, May 22-23, 1951. When the outpost area occupied by his platoon was assaulted during the night, Rivera, an automatic rifleman, held his forward position tenaciously, although exposed to very heavy fire. When his rifle became inoperative, Rivera employed his pistol and grenades, and eventually fought the enemy hand-to-hand and forced them back.