Memorial Day: Remembering the heroes

Memorial Day: Remembering the heroes
Memorial Day: Remembering the heroes, Memorial Day is a celebration of our nation's fallen soldiers. Here we look at some of those who earned the military's highest decoration: the Medal of Honor.

Special Forces sergeant draws enemy fire so others might live
During a combat patrol in Afghanistan's Gowardesh Valley, Staff Sgt. Robert James Miller and his small squad of American and Afghan national forces found themselves under attack from a well-positioned and much larger Taliban force hiding in a structure. After Miller exposed himself several times to enemy fire to allow his teammates to find cover, his team leader was seriously wounded. Miller again drew the fire of the enemy, firing back with his weapon, calling in airstrikes and ultimately sacrificing his own life while allowing his commander to be pulled to safety. Robert James Miller saved at least 7 american soldiers + 15 Afghan national fighters,

Navy SEAL saves teammates
Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Anthony Monsoor was part of an elite team of Navy SEALs that was sent to train local forces in Ramadi, Iraq, during the Iraq War. During a firefight with insurgents, Monsoor was positioned on a roof along with several other SEALs when a hand grenade bounced off his chest and landed in front of him. Michael Anthony Monsoor dove on top of the explosive, exchanging his own life for those of his comrades,

Army soldier acts selflessly
In June 2006, Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti was helping lead a 16-man team in northeastern Afghanistan when his small hillside base was ambushed by an estimated 60 enemy fighters. Shooting his gun, throwing grenades and directing artillery strikes, Monti drove the enemy back several times. Jared C. Monti died moving wounded Brian J. Bradbury to safety,

Navy SEAL takes on huge Taliban force
When a group of Afghan goat herders stumbled upon Lt. Michael P. Murphy and his elite team of three other Navy SEALs in the remote mountains of Kunar Province, Afghanistan, in June 2005, the team decided to spare their lives. Unfortunately, the herders immediately informed a group of about 30 to 40 Taliban fighters where the SEALs were, and the Americans were surrounded. After killing numerous enemy soldiers and receiving several wounds, Murphy managed to fight his way to a higher position in which he could radio in air support for what was left of his squad. Once the call was made, Murphy fought until his last breath, becoming the first Medal of Honor recipient in the war in Afghanistan.

Marine dives on grenade to save comrades
Cpl. Jason Dunham performed one of the most selfless acts imaginable during a war when, after an attack near Husaybah, Iraq, an insurgent tossed a grenade into a group of Marines and Dunham dove on top of the explosive, smothering it with his helmet and body. The blast tore through Dunham, mortally wounding him. In turn, he was the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. Dunham's mother, Debra Ann Dunham christened a guided missile destroyer in his honor in 2009. NAVY guided missile destroyer + a Marine barracks + U.S. post office in his hometown named for Jason L. Dunham,

Army soldier acts heroically during ambush

In 2003, while helping to build a prisoner-of-war detention facility near Baghdad International Airport in Iraq, Texas native Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith  and his team were ambushed by a group of at least 100 insurgents. Under withering fire, Smith organized the team into defensive positions and arranged the extraction of wounded soldiers. Smith's son, David received a Gold Medal of Remembrance at a ceremony on the National Mall. Paul R. Smith ran through a hail of gunfire to man a .50-caliber machine gun + kept a steady stream of fire at the enemy soldiers until he was killed,

The Army Rangers behind 'Black Hawk Down'
In October 1993, Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Randy Shughart were in Mogadishu, Somalia laying down their lives for a group of stranded helicopter pilots. The events would later be depicted in director Ridley Scott's blockbuster film "Black Hawk Down". gordon and shugart found critically injured pilots + pulled them from the downed helicopter and killed numerous enemy combatants, gordon and shughart killed while helping pilots,

Young Marine saves fellow troops
Only 18 years old, Pfc. Daniel D. Bruce was one of thousands of teenage soldiers thrust into the heavy fighting of the Vietnam War. While on night watch at a base in Quang Nam Province, Bruce suddenly saw a grenade thrown at him and several other Marines. Daniel D. Bruce caught grenade in the air and ran, Daniel D. Bruce saved at least 3 lives,

Airman rescues wounded, dies fighting
On April 11, 1966, word came that a group of wounded infantrymen were pinned down 35 miles east of Saigon, Vietnam. Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger of Piqua, Ohio, a veteran of some 300 rescue missions, insisted that he be put on the ground to aid the wounded and extract the dead. After saving several wounded soldiers and recovering numerous American bodies, Pitsenbarger was forced to take up arms and fight the large Viet Cong force that had begun attacking them. The Medal of Honor was presented to his parents, William and Irene Pitsenbarger in 2000. William H. Pitsenbarger + three separate wounds before being killed,

Army Chaplain earns top honor; next stop, sainthood?
Emil Kapaun, a former Army chaplain, was given the Medal of Honor in April by President Barack Obama nearly 62 years after he died while a prisoner of war during the Korean War. While imprisoned, Kapaun gave unwavering religious support to his fellow soldiers and is now seen as deserving of sainthood by many Catholics. Kapaun endured enemy fire to bring comfort to wounded + bring wounded to safety,

Naval commander launches David vs. Goliath attack
The Battle of Samar in 1944 was one of the largest naval fights in history, and given the small number of American ships ambushed by an enormous Japanese fleet, it is often described as the most mismatched naval battle in American history. Cmdr. Ernest E. Evans was at the helm of the USS Johnston at the time and is credited with launching an improvisational, but ultimately doomed, assault on the Japanese ships. Ernest E. Evans led attack that sunk several Japanese vessels and turn the larger fleet into retreat, Ernest E. Evans ship sunk and he was never seen again,

Army soldier fights to his last breath
In the summer of 1944, Sgt. Thomas A. Baker was one of roughly 71,000 American soldiers who fought in the Battle of Saipan in the Mariana Islands. Baker is first cited for single-handedly killing 18 enemy soldiers who were attempting to sneak up on his comrades. Then, on July 7, while his company was surrounded on three sides by enemies, Baker killed several more foes while being wounded numerous times, eventually using his empty weapon to bludgeon the enemy fighters. Sgt. Thomas A. Baker Baker refused to be evacuated + demanded another pistol with eight rounds in it , Sgt. Thomas A. Baker found dead with eight Japanese soldiers lying dead around him,

Soldier is honored as a 'first' Medal of Honor recipient

In November 1918, during World War I, Pvt. David B. Barkley found himself near Pouilly, France, as part of a scouting mission attempting to gather crucial information, which happened to be located on the opposite side of the Meuse River. David B. Barkley swam across river to get information, David B. Barkley got cramps during swimming and drowned, David B. Barkley first hispanic Medal of Honor recipient,

Deserting soldier redeems himself under new name
Not all Medal of Honor recipients boast spotless records throughout their service. Pvt. Franklin J. Philips contracted malaria during the Spanish-American War and was discharged from the Army for desertion. After recovering, however, Phillips re-enlisted, this time in the Marines, under the name Harry Fisher. Franklin J. Philips hero during Battle of Peking, China + Boxer Rebellion until he was killed,

Army officer takes on overwhelming force in Philippine-American War
In the late 1890s and early 1900s, Filipino revolutionaries waged an unsuccessful war of independence against Spanish and American rule, the latter extending from 1899 to 1902. During the Philippine-American War, Maj. John Alexander Logan Jr. — the son of a U.S. senator by the same name who, notably, was a driving force behind establishing Memorial Day as a national holiday — was among the U.S. forces. He was killed while leading his troops with "most distinguished gallantry" against a much larger and heavily entrenched enemy force at San Jacinto. John Alexander Logan, Jr. + west point graduate,
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