Tag Archives: Congressional Medal of Honor

Today in Texas History – October 26

From the Annals of the Great War –   In 1944, Major Horace S. “Stump” Carswell, Jr. was killed in action in China.  Carswell, a native of Fort Worth, had enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps after Germany invaded Poland.  After extensive training, he entered the Pacific Theater of Operations in April 1944, as pilot and operations officer of the 374th Bombardment Squadron of 308th Bombardment Group of the 14th Air Force.

On his last mission, Carswell was flying a B-24 Liberator on a single-aircraft sortie against a Japanese convoy in the South China Sea.  He scored two hits on an oil tanker after making a successful second low-level run over the now-alerted convoy.   His co-pilot was wounded and the B-24 had two engines knocked out, a third damaged, a leaking hydraulic system, and a punctured fuel tank.  Despite the damage, Carswell managed to gain enough altitude to reach land, where he ordered the crew to bail out. Eight did, but the bombardier’s parachute was damaged and he could not jump with the others.  Carswell stayed with the bombardier and the wounded co-pilot, and attempted to land the badly damaged craft but was unsuccessful. The aircraft crashed against a mountain, and all three aboard were killed.

Carswell was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for giving “his life…to save all members of his crew” and for “sacrifice far beyond that required of him.” In 1948,  Fort Worth Army Airfield was renamed Carswell Air Force Base.

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Today in Texas History – September 6

From the Annals of the War Heroes –  In 1952, Corporal Benito Martinez of Fort Hancock was killed in action near Satae-ri in Korea.  Martinez single-handedly defended a forward listening post after ordering his fellow soldiers to return to a more secure location.  He refused an order to himself retreat stating that he knew the situation better than his commander and would use it to stall the North Korean attack.  He held out until he ran out of ammunition.  He was mortally wounded before his unit could counter-attack.  Martinez  received a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.

Today in Texas History – September 29

From the Annals of Bravery – In 1864, Sgt. Milton Holland earned the Medal of Honor for action at Chaffin’s Farm and New Market Heights, Virginia.  Holland was born into slavery probably Austin in 1844.  He was the slave and perhaps son of Bird Holland who would later become Texas Secretary of State.  He was freed by Holland in the 1850’s and sent to the Albany Enterprise Academy in Ohio.  He enlisted in the United States Army in 1863 at the age of 19.  He joined the Fifth United States Colored Troops under the command of Gen. Benjamin Butler.   He quickly rose to the rank of regimental sergeant major.  During the engagements at Chaffin’s Farm and New Market Heights all of the white officers were killed or wounded.  Holland assumed command and led his regiment in action as it routed the Confederates.  He was wounded in the battle and for his actions received the Medal of Honor on April 6, 1865.  His commendation contained the following quote regarding his action after the regiment suffered heavy losses in the battle:

 “But, with a courage that knew no bounds, the men stood like granite figures. They routed the enemy and captured the breastworks. The courage displayed by young Holland’s regiment on this occasion called for the highest praise from Gen. Grant, who personally rode over the battlefield in company with Generals Butler and Draper.”

Butler promoted Holland to Captain for his service, but the War Department refused the commission because of his race.  After mustering out of the army on September 20, 1865, Holland lived in Washington, D.C., where he worked in the Auditor Office of the United States government.  He later became chief of collections for the Sixth District. He also established the Alpha Insurance Company, one of the first African-American-owned insurance companies. He died in 1910, at his farm near Silver Springs, Maryland, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Photo from the National Park Service.

Today in Texas History – August 21

From the Annals of Heroism –  In 1968, Staff Sgt. Marvin Young was killed in action near Ben Cui, Vietnam.  Young was a native of Alpine who enlisted in the army in 1966. He was leading a patrol of Company C, Fifth Infantry, Twenty-fifth Infantry Division when they were attacked by a large force of North Vietnamese. When the squad leader was killed, Young assumed command and repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire, while encouraging his men.  He ignored orders to pull back and remained behind to assist several of his men who were unable to withdraw.  Even after being wounded, he refused assistance and stayed to cover the withdrawal of other troops.  He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Photo from http://www.vvmf.org