Medal of Honor

Posted: April 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

They call them “Honor Flights.” The airplanes bring veterans to Washington, D.C., to tour memorials that honor their service. The oldest vets — those from World War II — get preference. But an Honor Flight on 22 MAR bore some extra-special passengers. “Flagship Liberty” made just a short hop — from NYC’s LaGuardia to DC’s Reagan National. On board was a remarkable platoon: all members of the nation’s small company of living Medal of Honor recipients. Whatever you do, don’t call them “winners.” Yes, the Medal of Honor is the highest award given to an American military service member. It recognizes extreme courage and intrepidity during combat. But every recipient would tell you, they didn’t “win” anything. The men who wear the blue ribbon see themselves as representing all who have served their nation with courage and character. After all, since the Medal of Honor was established during the Civil War, more than 40 million Americans have defended their nation. Fewer than 3,500 have received the Medal of Honor, but they stand up for all “American citizens who have demonstrated courage and selflessness in their daily lives,” said Silas R. Johnson, Jr., president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation ( The men aboard “Flagship Liberty” came to Washington to make just that point. March 25 was Medal of Honor Day, marking the 149th anniversary of the presentation of the first medal. To mark the occasion, the delegation laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. Only a few dozen Medal of Honor recipients are still with us.
Sadly, America lost William R. Charette, 79, on 18 MAR. On 27 MAR 1953, Charette was serving as the medic for a Marine Corps infantry unit fighting communist forces near P’anmunjom. Amid combat, he became separated from his platoon. While searching for his men, he learned that another group of Marines had decided to lead an assault on the enemy. “When they told us to start going forward I thought, ‘I’ll wait until my platoon catches up,’ “ Charette said in the 2002 book ‘Medal of Honor’. “But the sergeant stood up. He had a machine gun and his words were very encouraging: ‘Okay, men, move on out, because if they don’t kill you, I will.’ Charette advanced. Throughout the battle, he repeatedly and unhesitatingly moved about through a murderous barrage of hostile small-arms and mortar fire to render assistance to his wounded comrades, according to his Medal of Honor citation. From a promontory above the Marines, the communist forces began lobbing grenades on to the Americans. “There were so many going off there was no way to count them,” Charette once said. “It was just a constant roar.” As he was tending to a severely wounded Marine, a grenade bounced a few feet away. Acting on instinct, he later said, he laid himself over the wounded Marine. His body absorbed the blast, protecting the Marine from further injury. When he came to, he couldn’t see because his eyes were covered in his own blood. Although wounded from the explosion, he continued to care for his comrades. Having lost his medical pack in the blast, he tore off strips of his own clothing to use as bandages. He gave up the remnants of his combat jacket to an injured Marine who was shivering in the frosty air. Later, Charette exposed himself to enemy fire while he hoisted a wounded Marine to safety. “I could hear the bullets zipping by my head,” Chief Charette told a Veterans of Foreign Wars publication in 2003. “But I couldn’t leave the guy there.” For his action he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
William R. Charette,
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this elite Band of Brothers is that, after all their extraordinary service and sacrifice under arms, they are still giving to their nation. Much of their selfless legacy is accomplished through the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation and its educational curriculum at Teaching lessons in character, from the experience of those who served, the online curriculum offers brief videos presenting living biographies of more than 100 Medal of Honor recipients. These testimonials provide the basis for a six-part curriculum that teaches students how to better understand and emulate the virtues of courage, integrity, sacrifice, commitment, citizenship and patriotism. The interdisciplinary character development resource, “Medal of Honor: Lessons of Personal Bravery and Self-Sacrifice,” uses the oral histories of Medal of Honor recipients to convey to high school and college students that not only in military circumstances, but in everyday life, everyone can demonstrate courage and sacrifice. As long as America produces men and women like these recipients, it will be a nation worthy of these recipients. Their work with the Medal of Honor Foundation aims to make sure that every generation of Americans may rise to become “the greatest generation.” [Source: James Jay Carafano article 25 Mar 2012 ++]


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