Monday, May 31, 2010

In Honor of Memorial Day

Last Memorial Day I noted the truly amazing Medal of Honor citation of First Lieutenant John J. Tominac.  Today I thought I'd highlight a different citation from a different conflict: the often-overlooked Korean War. I've read many accounts of tremendous heroism from medics and corpsmen, people risking their lives to help the wounded while not even being able to fight back against the enemy. The Medal of Honor citation below is for Navy Hospital Corpsman Third Class (HC3c) William Charette, serving with the Marines. Charette not only shielded a wounded comrade with his own body when a grenade fell nearby, but he got up, ignored his wounds, kept treating the wounded, and went so far as to remove his own flak vest and give it to someone he thought needed it more, all while continuously remaining exposed to enemy fire. As the citation notes, "Charette was directly responsible for saving many lives."

I looked up his Wikipedia page. If it is correct, William Charette is a still-living hero, unlike many Medal of Honor winners. He survived his wounds and served 26 years in the navy.

Rank and organization: Hospital Corpsman Third Class, U.S. Navy Medical Corpsman serving with a marine rifle company. Place and date: Korea, 27 March 1953. Entered service at: Ludington, Michigan. Birth: Ludington, Mich. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against enemy aggressor forces during the early morning hours. Participating in a fierce encounter with a cleverly concealed and well-entrenched enemy force occupying positions on a vital and bitterly contested outpost far in advance of the main line of resistance, HC3c. Charette repeatedly and unhesitatingly moved about through a murderous barrage of hostile small-arms and mortar fire to render assistance to his wounded comrades. When an enemy grenade landed within a few feet of a marine he was attending, he immediately threw himself upon the stricken man and absorbed the entire concussion of the deadly missile with his body. Although sustaining painful facial wounds, and undergoing shock from the intensity of the blast which ripped the helmet and medical aid kit from his person, HC3c. Charette resourcefully improvised emergency bandages by tearing off part of his clothing, and gallantly continued to administer medical aid to the wounded in his own unit and to those in adjacent platoon areas as well. Observing a seriously wounded comrade whose armored vest had been torn from his body by the blast from an exploding shell, he selflessly removed his own battle vest and placed it upon the helpless man although fully aware of the added jeopardy to himself. Moving to the side of another casualty who was suffering excruciating pain from a serious leg wound, HC3c. Charette stood upright in the trench line and exposed himself to a deadly hail of enemy fire in order to lend more effective aid to the victim and to alleviate his anguish while being removed to a position of safety. By his indomitable courage and inspiring efforts in behalf of his wounded comrades, HC3c. Charette was directly responsible for saving many lives. His great personal valor reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

HOT5 Daily will return tomorrow. Have a good Memorial Day.

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