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John Kelvin Koelsch

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U.S. Navy
Medal Of Honor, Korea

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Lieutenant (j.g.) Koelsch served with a Navy helicopter rescue unit. As darkness fell on July 3, 1951, information was received that a marine aviator had been shot down and was trapped by the enemy in mountainous terrain. Lt. (j.g.) Koelsch voluntarily flew a helicopter to attempt a rescue. With an almost solid overcast concealing everything below, he descended in his unarmed aircraft to an extremely low altitude and began a systematic search. Despite intense enemy fire, which struck his helicopter on one occasion, he persisted in his mission until he located the downed pilot, who was suffering from serious burns on the arms and legs. While the victim was being hoisted into the aircraft, it was struck again by a burst of hostile fire and crashed on the side of the mountain. Quickly extricating his crewmen and the aviator from the wreckage, Lt. (j.g.) Koelsch led them from the vicinity to escape from hostile troops, evading the enemy forces for nine days and rendering medical attention to his severely burned companion until all were captured. Up to the time of his death while a captive of the enemy, Lt. (j.g.) Koelsch steadfastly refused to aid his captors in any manner and inspired fellow prisoners by his fortitude and consideration for others.

Lieutenant Koelsch died of malnutrition on October 16, 1951, while being held by the North Koreans as a prisoner of war. Following the war, when details of Koelsch's valor and resistance as a POW became known, his example became the bases of the Code of Conduct adopted in 1955 to guide future American's who might become POWs.

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