Medal of Honor
Thompson Hall of Valor
Reading accounts of Medal of Honor recipients has fascinated me since I was in high school in 1960. In the 11th grade we were given a patriotic pamphlet containing the story of Sgt. John Basilone. In the school library I read the accounts of Sgt. Leonard Funk and Sgt. Charles Kelly.
Over the years I formed certain impressions about the MOH. How does one qualify for the award? Is it awarded fairly? Well, to qualify several things should take place.
1. There should be a great risk to ones life.
2. The recipient must kill large numbers of enemy troops—or
3. Save a large number of friendly lives
4. Ideally all of the above.
Saving your squads lives while losing yours is almost a sure thing. The squad feels obligated to do something to return the favor.
What about fairness? NO WAY. Some soldiers were killed or crippled and did not receive the MOH. A case in point is Sgt. Al Schmidt. While manning a M1917, 30 cal. BMG, Schmidt killed a large number of Japanese soldiers and did not receive the award. Sgt John Basilone and Sgt. Mitchell Paige did almost the exact same thing and were awarded the MOH. Did I mention that Al Schmidt did much of his shooting while blind?? How could such an injustice happen? I would like to elaborate further with two extreme examples. 1. On the first extreme we have Gen Douglas McArthur. Gen McArthur was awarded the MOH for following a presidential order to bug out to Australia. A cheap political stunt on Roosevelt’s part that diminishes the esteem of our highest award... 2. On the other extreme we have S/Sgt Harrison G Summers. S/Sgt Summers was given 15 men and a mission that required a company. The mission was to kill or capture an artillery battery of 80 Germans poised to shell Omaha beach. The success of his mission would save hundreds of American lives. His squad refused to help him. It was just Sgt Summers and his Tommy gun. History shows that’s all it took. S/Sgt Summers was not awarded the MOH. More info below.
I recently became aware that the board owner, David Albert, once studied Medal of Honor recipients and was fortunate enough to have met several such heroes. Since this is a Thompson site, I asked David if he thought there would be any interest in starting a Hall Of Valor for those soldiers and Marines who were awarded the MOH while using a Thompson gun, either exclusively or significantly. David thought it might receive a favorable response.
To qualify, the Thompson had to be used in the actual action that resulted in receiving the award. Case in point, #1-- Lt. Audie L Murphy used a Thompson at times in WWII. However, in the action that resulted in receiving the award, Lt Murphy used a Carbine, 50 cal. BMG and a field phone. So Audie Murphy will not be in our Hall Of Valor. Case in point #2—Sgt Charles Kelly normally used a BAR. But in covering the withdrawal of his company, Sgt. Kelly used a Thompson in addition to many other weapons. Therefore Sgt Kelly will be in our Thompson Hall of Valor.
I guess everyone has their favorite hero. My favorite is 1st Sgt Leonard Funk and Sgt Funk will top the list. Who among us, upon having an enemy soldier stick a 9m/m SMG in our gut and ordering us to surrender, would do anything except shit our pants. Well, Sgt. Funk often told his soldiers, “Boys, as long as I have ammunition and the strength to pull the trigger, I’ll never surrender”. As you will read in Sgt Funk’s citation, it wasn’t idle chatter.
Perhaps some of you will have a favorite MOH recipient who used a Thompson gun in the action. Please nominate your candidate and David and I will add them to the roster.
I hope at least some will find this subject interesting.
Jim C 351
Thompson Hall of Valor Inductees
First Sergeant Leonard Alfred Funk Jr.
MOH Action --- Jan 1945
Recipient ID #2199
“C” Company, 1st Battalion, 508th PIR, 82nd ABN DIV, U.S. Army
1Lt. John Joseph Tominac
MOH Action - 12-Sep-44
Recipient ID #1952
I Co., 15th US Inf., 3rd ID
1Lt. David Crowder Waybur
MOH Action - 17 Jul 43
Recipient ID #604
3d Reconnaissance Troop, 3rd Inf. Div.
Tech Sergeant Van Thomas Barfoot
MOH Action --- May 1944
Recipient ID #3065
“L” Company, 3rd Battalion, 157th Inf Reg, 45th INF DIV, U.S. Army
Private Michael “Mike” Colalillo
MOH Action --- Apr 1945
Recipient ID #2374
“C” Company, 1st Battalion, 398th Inf Reg, 100th INF DIV, U.S. Army
Staff Sergeant Freeman Victor Horner
MOH Action --- Nov 1944
Recipient ID #990
“K” Company, 2nd Battalion, 30th Inf Reg, 30th INF DIV, U.S. Army
Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye (Current U.S. Senator from Hawaii)
MOH Action --- Apr 1945
Recipient ID #573
“E” Company,2nd Battalion, 442nd Reg Combat Team, 92nd INF DIV, U.S. Army
Private George Taro Sakato
MOH Action --- Oct 1944
Recipient ID #1134
“E” Company, 2nd Battalion, 442nd Reg Combat Team, 36th INF DIV, U.S. Army
Note: Official citation does not mention using a TSMG. Other sources say that Pvt Sakato used a TSMG until he ran out of ammo, then used a P38 pistol
Sergeant Sylvester Antolak
MOH Action --- May 1944
Recipient ID #2905
“B” Company, 15th Inf Reg, 3rd INF DIV, U.S. Army
Corporal Charles E. Kelly
MOH Action --- Sep 1943
Recipient ID # 390
“L” Company, 3rd Battalion, 143rd Inf Reg, 36th INF DIV, U.S. Army
Note: Official citation does not mention using a TSMG. Other sources say that Corp. Kelly used a TSMG in between the 2 BARs that he burned up.
1st Lieutenant Edgar Harold Lloyd
MOH Action --- Jan 1945
Recipient ID #691
“E” Company, 319th Inf Reg, 80th Inf Div, U.S. Army
Sergeant Harold O. Messerschmidt
MOH Action --- Sep 1944
Recipient ID #1209
“L” Company,30th Inf Reg, 3rd Inf Div, U.S. Army
PFC Joe Nishimoto
Posthumous Award - Upgraded from original Distinguished Service Cross by President Clinton in 2000
MOH Action --- Nov 1944
Recipient ID # 1688
“G” Company, 2nd Battalion, 442nd Reg Combat Team, 36th Inf Div, U.S. Army
Staff Sergeant Paul Luther Bolden
MOH Action --- Dec 1944
Recipient ID #2560
“I” Company, 120th Inf Reg, 30th Inf Div, U.S. Army
1st Lieutenant Eli Lamar Whiteley
MOH Action --- Nov 1944
Recipient ID # 785
“L” Company, 15th Inf Reg, 3rd Inf Div, U.S. Army
Sergeant Charles Andrew MacGillivary
MOH action --- Jan 1945
Recipient ID # 369
“I” Company, 463rd Battalion, 71st Inf Reg, 44th Inf Div, U.S. Army
Lieutenant Edward Dahlgren
MOH action --- Feb 1944
Recipient ID # 737
“E” Company, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Inf Reg, 36th Inf Div, U.S. Army
Technical Sergeant Morris Crain
MOH Action --- Mar 1945
Recipient ID # 2416
“E” Company, 141st Inf Reg, 36th Inf Div, U.S. Army
Sergeant Emile Deleau Jr.
MOH Action --- Feb 1945
Recipient ID # 805
“A” Company, 142nd Inf Reg, 36th Inf Div, U.S. Army
Harold Herman Moon, Jr.
MOH Action --- Oct 1944
Recipient ID # 1206
“G” Company, 34th Inf Reg, 24th Inf Div, U.S. Army
Jesse Ray Drowley
MOH Action --- Jan 1944 Recipient ID # 1677 “B” Company, 1st Battalion, 132nd Inf Reg, Americal Div, U.S. Army
Francis Junior Pierce
MOH Action --- Mar 1945
Pharmacist's Mate First Class
2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Div, U.S. Navy
1st Lt Robert T Waugh
MOH action --May 1944
Recipient ID # 2786
339th Infantry Regiment, 85th Infantry Division
SSG Homer L. Wise
MOH Action - June 14, 1944
Recipient ID # 1363
L Co, 142nd Inf Reg, 36th Inf. Div.
SGT Chris Carr
MOH Action - October 01 & 2, 1944
Recipient ID# 485
L Co, 337th Inf Rgt, 85th Inf Div
PFC James H. Diamond
MOH Action - May 08 - 14, 1945
Recipient ID # 1567
D Co, 21st Inf Reg, 24th Inf Div
Cpl. Paul Bert Huff
MOH Action - 8-Feb-44
Recipient ID # 2553
A Co, 509th PIB, 5th Army
Thompson Hall of Valor
9/4/17- We have members from the UK, Canada, and Australia on this board, and when member “rpbcps” posted about a Victoria Cross recipient who used a Thompson during his act of valor, it seemed appropriate to add a section to the Medal of Honor pinned post that honors Commonwealth recipients of the equivalent award.
Here is a summary, courtesy of member “rpbcps”:
The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry that a British and Commonwealth serviceman can achieve. The Victoria Cross is forever linked with acts of extreme bravery and the original document associated with the medal stated that it could only be awarded for “gallantry of the highest order”. The VC was introduced on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War. Since then, the medal has been awarded 1,358 times to 1,355 individual recipients.
The bronze for the Victoria Cross came from a captured Chinese-made cannon used by the Russians at Sebastopol during the Crimean War. What is left of the metal is kept at the Donnington army base in Shropshire, a base I have visited many times during my service with an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Reserve Sqn. The London jewellers Hancocks, based in the Burlington Arcade in London, make the medals and I read that there is only enough metal left at Donnington, to make less than 80 more medals.
The following are known Victoria Cross recipients who used Thompson Submachine Guns...
Cpl. J.A. French
VC Action - 4-Sep-42
2/9 Infantry Battalion
Milne Bay in New Guinea saw the first defeat on land for the Imperial Japanese army in WW2.The Australians had to drive the Japanese out of each position in a series of actions typical of the one in which Corporal J.A. French took part.
On the 4th Sept. 1942, Cpl. French was leading a section of soldiers whose was advance was held up by fire from three Japanese machine-gun positions. Cpl French ordered the soldiers to take cover and crawled close enough to knock out two of the positions with hand grenades, he then charged the third position firing a Thompson SMG from the hip. He ran into a hail of bullets and was mortally wounded, but he kept moving and firing until he fell dead at the position.</div>
Cpl French had killed all three machine-gun crews, an action that was responsible for keeping Australian casualties to a minimum and added greatly to the successful conclusion of the attack. He was posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross
Sgt. William Henry "Bill" Kibby
2/48th Infantry Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force
In 1942, he was a sergeant in the 2/48th Infantry Battalion, during the North African campaign.
At the Second Battle of El Alamein, during the period of 23–31 October 1942, Kibby distinguished himself through his skill in leading a platoon, after his commander had been killed, during the initial attack at Miteiriya Ridge. On 23 October, he charged a machine gun position, firing at it with his Thompson submachine gun; Kibby killed three enemy soldiers, captured 12 others and took the position. His company commander intended to recommend him for the Distinguished Conduct Medal after this action, but was killed. During the following days, Kibby moved among his men directing fire and cheering them on. He mended his platoon's telephone line several times under intense fire. On 30–31 October, the platoon came under intense machine gun and mortar fire. Most of them were killed or wounded. In order to achieve his company's objective, Kibby moved forward alone, to within a few metres of the enemy, throwing grenades to destroy them. Just as his success in this endeavour appeared certain, he was killed.
His Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously and is displayed at the Australian War Memorial. He is buried at the Commonwealth War Grave at El Alamein.
Lieutenant George Arthur Knowland
Royal Norfolk Regiment, attached to No. 1 Commando
In Burma on 31st January, 1945, near Kangaw, Lieutenant George Arthur Knowland was commanding the forward platoon of a Troop positioned on the extreme North of a hill which was subjected to very heavy and repeated enemy attacks throughout the whole day. Before the first attack started, Lieutenant Knowland's platoon was heavily mortared and machine gunned, yet he moved about among his men keeping them alert and encouraging them, though under fire himself at the time. When the enemy, some 300 strong in all, made their first assault they concentrated all their efforts on his platoon of 24 men, but, in spite of the ferocity of the attack, he moved about from trench to trench distributing ammunition, and firing his rifle and throwing grenades at the enemy, often from completely exposed positions.
Later, when the crew of one of his forward Bren Guns had all been wounded, he sent back to Troop Headquarters for another crew and ran forward to man the gun himself until they arrived. The enemy was then less than 10 yards from him in dead ground down the hill, so, in order to get a better field of fire, he stood on top of the trench, firing the light machine gun from his hip, and successfully keeping them at a distance until a Medical Orderly had dressed and evacuated the wounded men behind him. The new Bren team also became casualties on the way up, and Lieutenant Knowland continued to fire the gun until another team took over.
Later, when a fresh attack came in, he took over a 2 in. Mortar and in spite of heavy fire and the closeness of the enemy, he stood up in the open to face them, firing the mortar from his hip and killing six of them with his first bomb. When all bombs were expended he went back through heavy grenade, mortar and machine gun fire to get more, which he fired in the same way from the open in front of his platoon positions. When those bombs were finished, he went back to his own trench, and still standing up fired his rifle at them. Being hard pressed and with enemy closing in on him from only 10 yards away, he had no time to re-charge his magazine. Snatching up the Tommy gun of a casualty, he sprayed the enemy and was mortally wounded stemming this assault, though not before he had killed and wounded many of the enemy.
Naik Agamsing Rai
5th Gurkha Rifles
Burma 26th June 1944
This position was now under intense fire form the .37 millimeter gun in the jungle and from 'Water Piquet', Naik Agamsing Rai at once advanced towards the gun, his section without hesitation following their gallant leader. Intense fire reduced the section to three men before half the distance had been covered but they pressed on to their objective. Arriving at close range, Naik Agamsing Rai killed three of the crew and his men killed the other two. The party then returned to 'Mortar Bluff' where the rest of their platoon were forming up for the final assault on 'Water Piquet'. In the subsequent advance, heavy machine-gun fire and showers of grenades from an isolated bunker position caused further casualties. Once more, with indomitable courage, Naik Agamsing Rai, covered by his Bren gunner advanced alone with a grenade in one hand and his Thompson sub-machine gun in the other. Through devastating fire he reached the enemy position and with his grenade and bursts form his Thompson sub-machine gun killed all four occupants of the bunker.
Rifleman Thaman Gurung
5th Gurkha Rifles
Italy 10th November 1944
.....By Skilful Stalking both scouts reached the position undetected... Realizing that if the enemy opened fire the section would sustain heavy casualties, Rifleman Thaman leapt to his feet and charged. The enemy completely taken by surprise surrendered without opening fire.
He then crept to the summit from which he saw a party a Germans well dug in on the reverse slopes.....Riifleman Thaman crossed the bare skyline firing his tommy gun, thus allowing the forward section to reach the summit.
Soon afterwards, due to heavy enemy machine-gun fire, the fighting patrol was ordered to withdraw. Rifleman Thaman then again crossed the skyline alone, firing burst upon burst of tommy gun fire until his ammunitition ran out. Having thrown two grenades he rejoined his section, collected two more grenades and crossing the skyline for the third time hurled them at the remaining Germans.
This diversion enabled both rear sections to withdraw. Meanwhile the leading section was still on the Summit, so Thaman seized a Bren gun, ran yet again to the skyline, emptied two magazines into the enemy position and then with the remaining section well on its way to safety turned to follow them, and at that very moment spun and fell with a bullet through his throat.
Corporal Naik Gian Singh
4th Battalion, 15th Punjab Regiment, British Indian Army
2 March 1945
On 2 March 1945 on the road between Kamye and Myingyan, Burma (now Myanmar), where the Japanese were strongly positioned, Naik Gian Singh who was in charge of the leading section of his platoon, went on alone firing his tommy gun, and rushed the enemy foxholes. In spite of being wounded in the arm he went on, hurling grenades. He attacked and killed the crew of a cleverly concealed anti-tank gun, and then led his men down a lane clearing all enemy positions. He went on leading his section until the action had been satisfactorily completed
Sergeant Ernest Alvia “Smokey” Smith
The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada
Italy, 21-22 October 1944
In Italy on the night of 21st–22nd;October 1944, a Canadian Infantry Brigade was ordered to establish a bridgehead across the Savio River. The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada were selected as the spearhead of the attack, and in weather most unfavourable to the operation they crossed the river and captured their objective in spite of strong opposition from the enemy.
Torrential rain had caused the Savio River to rise six feet in five hours, and as the soft vertical banks made it impossible to bridge the river no tanks or anti-tank guns could be taken across the raging stream to the support of the rifle companies.
As the right forward company was consolidating its objective it was suddenly counter-attacked by a troop of three Mark V Panther tanks supported by two self-propelled guns and about thirty infantry and the situation appeared hopeless.
Under heavy fire from the approaching enemy tanks, Private Smith, showing great initiative and inspiring leadership, led his P.I.A.T. Group of two men across an open field to a position from which the P.I.A.T. could best be employed. Leaving one man on the weapon, Private Smith crossed the road with a Private James Pennant and obtained another P.I.A.T. Almost immediately an enemy tank came down the road firing its machine-guns along the line of the ditches. Private Smith's comrade, Private Tennant was wounded. At a range thirty feet and having to expose himself to the full view of the enemy, Private Smith fired the P.I.A.T. and hit the tank, putting it out of action. Ten German infantry immediately jumped off the back of the tank and charged him with Messerschmidt and grenades. Without hesitation Private Smith moved out on the road and with his Tommy gun at point-blank range, killed four Germans and drove the remainder back. Almost immediately another tank opened fire and more enemy infantry closed in on Smith's position. Obtaining some abandoned Tommy gun magazines from a ditch, he steadfastly held his position, protecting Private Tennant and fighting the enemy with his Tommy gun until they finally gave up and withdrew in disorder.
One tank and both self-propelled guns had been destroyed by this time, but yet another tank swept the area with fire from a longer range. Private Smith, still showing utter contempt for enemy fire, helped his wounded friend to cover and obtained medical aid for him behind a nearby building. He then returned to his position beside the road to await the possibility of a further enemy attack.
No further immediate attack developed, and as a result the battalion was able to consolidate the bridgehead position so vital to the success of the whole operation, which led to the capture of San Giorgio Di Cesena and a further advance to the Ronco River.
Thus, by the dogged determination, outstanding devotion to duty and superb gallantry of this private soldier, his comrades were so inspired that the bridgehead was held firm against all enemy attacks, pending the arrival of tanks and anti-tank guns some hours later.
Private Richard Burton
1st Battalion, The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment
Italy, 8 October 1944
In Italy on 8th of October, 1944, two companies of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment moved forward to take a strongly held feature 760 metres high. The capture of this feature was vital at this stage of the operation, as it dominated all the ground on the main axis of advance. The assaulting troops made good progress to within twenty yards of the crest, when they came under withering fire from Spandaus on the crest. Private Burton rushed forward and engaging the first Spandau’s position with his Tommy-gun, killed the crew of three.
When the assault was again held up by murderous fire from more machine guns, Private Burton, again showing complete disregard for his own safety, dashed forward toward the first machine-gun, using his Tommy-gun until his ammunition was exhausted. He then picked up a Bren gun and, firing from the hip, succeeded in killing or wounding the crews of the two machine-guns. Thanks to his outstanding courage the Company was then able to consolidate on the forward slope of the feature. Private Burton’s magnificent gallantry and total disregard of his own safety during many hours of fierce fighting in mud and continuous rain were an inspiration to all his comrades.