October 05, 2015

Above And Beyond The Call Of Duty

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

In the absence of a platoon leader, James E. Johnson, a U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant from Pocatello, stepped forward to lead his fellow Marines in the Korean War where his platoon faced a barrage of fire from an enemy force that greatly outnumbered his platoon.  Despite the onslaught, Sgt. Johnson calmly moved among his men encouraging, inspiring and directing.  He then saved many lives when he placed himself in position of certain death or capture to provide cover for his comrades.  Sgt. Johnson's inspiring leadership and sacrifice were honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The Congressional Medal of Honor is our nation's highest military award for heroism.  Current law authorizes the President to present the award in the name of Congress to service members who distinguish themselves by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their lives above and beyond the call of duty.  According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), this honor has been awarded 3,510 times over the award's 152 years. 

The Idaho Military Museum reportsthat 48 Medal of Honor recipients have significant Idaho attachments.  In addition to Sgt. Johnson, CRS found that nine other Medal of Honor recipients were born in Idaho:

  • David B. Bleak (Idaho Falls)served as an Army medical aidman in the Korean War.  He shielded a companion from a concussion grenade blast, and despite his own wounds, carried a wounded comrade to safety.
  • Gregory Boyington (Coeur D'Alene), a Marine Corps Major who served as commanding officer for a squadron in World War II, was a "superb airman and determined fighter against overwhelming odds," whose leadership was instrumental in ensuring Allied aerial achievements in a strategic area.  
  • Leonard C. Brostrom (Preston)served as an Army Private First Class during World War II.  His self-sacrificing and intrepid actions as a rifleman are credited with enabling his company to overcome an overwhelming attack.
  • Robert D. Maxwell (Boise)served as an Army Technician Fifth Grade in World War II.  His calmness and tenacity inspired his fellow soldiers to continue an unequal struggle.  He saved lives by hurling himself upon a grenade.
  • Lloyd G. McCarter (St. Maries)served as an Army Private during World War II.  He was a scout whose acts of self-sacrifice, encouragement and defiance led to the success of his company. 
  • Reginald R. Myers (Boise), a Marine Corps Major in the Korean War, led a successful counter-attack to defend a strategically important military base against an enemy force that outnumbered his 16-to-1. 
  • Thomas C. Neibaur (Sharon)served as an Army Private during World War I.  Despite being wounded in both legs and surrounded, he continued to check an attack and take prisoners.
  • Dan D. Schoonover (Boise)served as an Army Corporal in the Korean War whose "heroic leadership during 2 days of heavy fighting, superb personal bravery, and willing self-sacrifice inspired his comrades and saved many lives."
  • Nathan K. Van Noy, Jr. (Grace)served as an Army Private during World War II.  Despite being grievously wounded, he stayed at his gunner post.  His "heroic tenacity at the price of his life" saved lives and led to successful completion of the mission.

These are some of the actions of brave Idahoans who serve our nation.  More information about these and other Medal of Honor recipients can be found on the U.S. Army Center of Military History website:  http://www.history.army.mil/moh/index.html.  Their inspiration of others despite overwhelming odds is a common thread found in the descriptions assembledby the center outlining why these American's received the Medal of Honor.  This humble service is indicative of the great Idahoans who serve above and beyond the call of duty. 

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