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Stories of American Heroes - Brought to you from the "Home of Heroes" - Pueblo, Colorado

Above & Beyond

These pages are the results of a Medal of Honor research project by Eighth Graders at Sacred Heart Elementary School in Ville Platte, Louisiana.  Each student in the class adopted a Medal of Honor recipient from our Nation's history, researched his life, and then wrote the story you see here.

 Indian Campaigns

William Frederick Cody

One of the most colorful figures of the Old West became ” the best known spokesman for the New West.  He was born William Frederick Cody in 1846.  At 22, he was rechristened ”Buffalo Bill”.  He had been a trapper, a bullwhacker, a Colorado "Fifty-Niner", Pony Express rider (l860), wagon master, stagecoach driver, Civil War soldier, and even hotel manager. He earned his nickname for his skill while supplying Kansas Pacific Railroad workers with buffalo meat. He was about to embark on a career as one of the most illustrious prairie scouts of the Indian Wars. 

From 1868 through 1872 the United States Army continuously employed him in the hazardous and uncertain scouting profession. He won the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1872 and was ever after the favorite scout of the Fifth Cavalry. The men of the Fifth considered Buffalo Bill to be ”good luck.” He kept them from ambush, he guided them to victory, and his own fame reflected glory on the regiment. Cody considered himself lucky too. He was lucky to have been wounded in action just once, and then it was ”only a scalp wound.”  

In 1872 he appeared on stage for the first time, playing him- self in ”Scouts of the Prairie.” Thereafter he continued to act in the winter and scout for the Fifth in the summer. The Wild West show was inaugurated in Omaha in 1883 with real cowboys and real Indians portraying the ”real West.” The show spent ten of its thirty years in Europe. In 1887 Buffalo Bill was a feature attraction at Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. At the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, only Egypt’s gyrations rivaled the Wild West as the talk of Chicago. By the turn of the century, Buffalo Bill was probably the most famous and most recognizable man in the world. 

I admire William Cody because as a young child I used to watch an old western television program. The star of the program was a young man portraying the life of ”Buffalo Bill”, when he was a Pony Express rider. I always looked up to him because he could ride and was a tough guy. Now realizing he was once a real person who I now not only admire because he could rope and ride, but because he was rewarded our nation’s highest military honor. 


Haitian Campaign 

Samuel Gross


Before WWII a campaign of marines was sent to the island of Haiti in the Caribbean to take control of the French Bastion Fort. Samuel Gross was one of the marines accompanying the campaign. In company with members of the 5th, 13th, 23rd companies, and the marine and sailor detachment from the Riviere, Haiti, on the 17th of November 1915. Following a concentrated drive, several different detachments of  marines gradually closed in on the old French bastion fort in an effort to block off all avenues of retreat for the Caco bandits. Approaching a breach in the wall which was the only entrance to the fort, Gross was the second man to pass through the breach in the face of constant fire from the Caco’s and, there- after, for a 10 minute period, engaged the enemy in hand to hand conflict until the bastion was captured and Caco resistance neutralized. He is a true American hero because he helped to capture a fort and risked his life for his country doing it.


World War I 

Deming Bronson


Deming Bronson was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in WWI. He entered the service in Seattle, Washington. He was born on July 8, 1894. On the morning of September 26, during the 364th infantry’s advance, 1st Lt. Bronson was struck by an enemy hand grenade, receiving deep cuts on his face and the back of his head. He participated in the action which resulted in the capture of an enemy dugout from which  many prisoners were taken. This was difficult and under hazardous conditions, because it was necessary to advance with- out the advantage of cover and from an exposed position, trying to get the enemy to surrender. On that afternoon he was painfully wounded in the left arm by a rifle bullet, and after receiving first aid treatment, he was directed to the rear. Ignoring these instructions, First Lt. Bronson remained on duty with his company throughout the night, suffering from severe pain and shock. The morning of September 27, his regiment resumed its attack, the object being the village of Eclisfontaine. Company H, to which 1st Lt. Bronson was assigned, was left in support of the attacking line, Company E being in the line. He gallantly joined that company in spite of his wounds and engaged with it, in the spite of the capture of the village. After the capture, he remained with Company E and participated with it in the capture of an enemy machine gun, he himself killing the enemy gunner. Shortly after this encounter, the company was compelled to retire due to the heavy enemy artillery barrage. During this retirement 1st Lt. Bronson, who was the last man to leave the advanced position, was again wounded in both arms by an enemy high explosive shell. He was then assisted to cover by another officer who applied first aid. Although bleeding profusely and faint from the loss of blood, 1st Lt. Bronson remained with the survivors of the company throughout the second night, refusing to go back for treatment. 

His gallantry and spirit of sacrifice were a great inspiration to the members of the entire command. I admire him because he served in the war even though he was wounded. He was brave and very tough even though he was wounded, he remained with the troops and helped them fight. All the people admired him for what he did for them.

 

Eddie Rickenbacker


Eddie Rickenbacker was charming, talented and larger-than-life.  He captured the imagination of the American public and cast a warm glow on auto racing in general and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in particular. Rickenbacker’s first experience in racing was during the Vanderbilt Cup race at the turn of the century. The company he had worked for, Frayer, had built cars to compete in the 1906 running of the events, which was a kind of   American wake-up call that paid $10,000 to win. When World War I started in 1917, Rickenbacker was 27 years old. First he had lied about his age by adding years to get a car-racing job, he now had to lie again by subtracting years from his age in order to be accepted into flight training. After his training period, he was sent to France where he was assigned as a driver for a high-ranking officer. 

Rickenbacker used to love to drive cars, but now that he was in the war he wanted to be a fighter pilot. When he had been given the title ”Ace of Aces”, he only had seven confirmed kills to his credit. No one had ever brought down eight light enemy planes. Rickenbacker finished the war with 26 victories and 134 air battles. 

I really admire Eddie Rickenbacker because of his bravery, courage and determination. By his determination I mean that he lied about his age in order to be accepted in the service and also to get the job he wanted. His bravery and courage enabled him to be the great fighter pilot that he was. 

When Eddie Rickenbacker returned home, he was a nation- al hero. He still had a desire to build cars, with the name Rickenbacker on it. Although the roads to manufacturing success were somewhat more rocky than he had thought, he went ahead and bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on November 1, 1927. Rickenbacker was very popular, he was a hero, and had he run for the office of president, he could have won. Just think, a racecar driver in the White House!

 

William Sawelson


William Sawelson was born in Newark, New Jersey.  He wanted to serve his country in World War I, so he entered the service at Harrison, New Jersey.  He is one of the sixteen Jewish recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.  This medal is only awarded to those people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty during combat.  Very few soldiers have received this honor in respect to the large number of people who have been involved in battle throughout history.  The honor is to be acknowledged as a hero and to live eternally in history as a courageous warrior.  

At Grand-Pre, France, on October 26,1918, William heard a wounded man in a shell hole calling from some distance away.  A fierce battle was raging all around the men, but William could hear that the man was calling for water in a weak voice. William could have just ignored him because he was certainly in enough danger himself. But, Sergeant Sawelson left his shelter and humbly crawled through heavy machine-gun fire to where the man lay. William had never met or ever seen this man before, but that did not enter into his thoughts. He was the kind of man to help anyone in need. William gave the man all the water he had in his canteen, leaving not a drop for himself. He then went back to his own shell hole to obtain more water and was returning to the wounded soldier when a shot was fired. William Sawelson was killed instantly by a machine-gun bullet. 

William Sawelson is a true hero. He went above and beyond his call of duty by giving his life for a man he had never met or even seen in his life. William Sawelson will be remembered and admired for his brave actions for the rest of history.

 

 

Alvin York


Alvin York was born on December 13, 1887, in Pall Mall, Tennessee. His family lived in the backwoods. Alvin York spent much of his youth drinking moonshine, gambling, and causing all kinds of trouble. In 1917 Alvin York was ordered to report for duty for World War I. He was sent to Camp Gordon, Georgia for training. He refused at first to enter the army but later decided God wanted him to defend his country. Sergeant York and fifteen other men were ordered to attack a German machine-gun nest. 

The sergeant in command was killed along with six other men. Alvin York took command. Using an automatic pistol, York shot the last man in the group of attackers. He then shot the next to last, and so on. (Later, he explained that this was how he shot wild turkeys at home, so the ones in front didn’t know, the ones behind were being killed.) Finally, the German lieutenant in command had enough after twenty of his men had been shot by York. He surrendered all the rest of the men. York had thus single-handedly captured 132 men. Alvin York and his men marched into town with his prisoners. He became an instant hero. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by the Americans. Later, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Alvin York was considered the greatest soldier to wear a uniform in the Great War. 

I admire Sergeant Alvin York because he was a very brave soldier. Even though he was unsure about going to fight in the war. He did what God wanted him to do. He accepted the fact that God wanted him to be a soldier. He proved to be the greatest soldier ever because he never gave up, he fought for his country until the end.


Peace Time Awards 

Charles A. Lindbergh


A twenty-five year old man named Charles A. Lindbergh was a careful and adventurous man. He learned to fly, then found work as a barn stormer and daredevil. He conceived his Atlantic flight while flying the mails between St. Louis and Chicago. Airmail was a dangerous job but after a few years, Lindbergh said it was fairly easy. He insisted that the cockpit be located behind the oversized fuel tanks. It meant  that if he crashed, he wouldn’t crash between the engine and the fuel tanks. 

His physical courage was coupled with a native sense for mechanical things and an awesome determination for thorough preparation once he decided upon a project. He was the first man in world history to fly over the Atlantic Ocean non-stop and land in Paris. His plane was almost just gasoline tanks. Sometimes the windows would ice up, so he had to stick his head out of the plane to see. With no radar, full tanks of fuel and just him in the plane, made it over the Atlantic Ocean. He is called, ”The Lone Eagle”, because he accomplished that feat by himself, but still he did it for his country. 

I picked Charles A. Lindbergh because he wasn’t in the Air Force and was not in anything but flying. His dream was to fly so he did what he loved and still got the Medal Of Honor. It was a Special Medal Of Honor for the unique quality of his achievement. Lindbergh had the courage to do what he did knowing that he might not make it, but he still did it. He later joined the army long enough to gain some experience in its relatively powerful planes. His life was always fixed around planes and that showed how much he loved to play with and fly with planes. His feat of courage inspired generations of Americans to have the courage to dream and work for goals. Charles A. Lindbergh was a great man and I think he was a person who deserved the Medal Of Honor.

 

William "Billy" Mitchell


I chose this person because he showed a great deal of courage.  Billy Mitchell served in Cuba and the Philippines, and in 1901 was attached to the Signal Corps. He then was sent to the general staff. Then he was sent to the aviation section of the Signal Corps in 1915. The United States entered WWI, and Mitchell learned how to fly an airplane. He became Air Commander.  General Mitchell was ready for war. He took the biggest challenge of all. He flew over enemy lines. He also took another risk at war. General Mitchell led a bombing force in an air strike. He tried to bomb the Germans’ homeland but it got cut short, and in March, 1919, he went back to his home to become chief of Air Service. 

Billy Mitchell then resigned from the army and retired. He continued to promote air power and to tell people of the danger of other nations, mainly Japan. He then hypothesized a possible attack by Japanese who would let bombs down on Pearl Harbor. He died in January, 1926, and in early December, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. So, I guess he was right.  

Mitchell had hypothesized a lot of things about air power but was ignored by the high military command before he died. In 1946, a Special Medal of Honor was given to Mitchell’s son by General Carl Spaataz, Chief of Staff. Billy Mitchell deserved the Medal of Honor because he correctly predicted the importance of air power in incoming wars. I think he deserved the Medal because he was a smart man and he tried to warn people but they did not listen to him. At least he tried. That is why he deserves the Special Medal. 

 

 


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