Posts made in January, 2016

Samuel G. Fuqua

Posted on Jan 15, 2016

Samuel G. Fuqua

Samuel Glenn Fuqua (October 15, 1899 – January 27, 1987) was a United States Navy Rear Admiral and a recipient of America’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor , for his actions in World War II during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Biography

Samuel was born October 15, 1899, a native of Laddonia , Missouri and entered the United States Naval Academy in July 1919, after a year at the University of Missouri and World War I service in the Army. Following graduation and commissioning in June 1923, he served in the battleship USS Arizona, destroyer USS Macdonough and battleship USS Mississippi before receiving shore duty at San Francisco , California , from 1930 to 1932. Lieutenant Fuqua served in other ships and shore stations during the mid-1030s, and was commanding officer of the minesweeper USS Bittern in the Asiatic Fleet in 19-39.

After service at the Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois , from 1939 to 1941, Lieutenant Commander Fuqua returned to Arizona as the ship’s Damage Control Officer and First Lieutenant, and was on board her during Japan ‘s December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor . Though knocked unconscious by a bomb that hit the ship’s stern early in the attack, he subsequently directed fire fighting and rescue efforts. After the ship’s forward magazines exploded, he was her senior surviving officer and was responsible for saving her remaining crewmen. For his actions at that time, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

During most of 1942, Fuqua was an officer of the cruiser USS Tuscaloosa. From 1943 to 1944, he was assigned to duty at Guantanamo Bay , Cuba , and attended the Naval War College . Captain Fuqua was Operations Officer for Commander Seventh Fleet from January to August 1945, helping to plan and execute several amphibious operations in the Philippines and Borneo area. Following the war, he served in other staff positions, and from 1949 to 1950 commanded the destroyer tender USS Dixie. After service as Chief of Staff of the Eighth Naval District, he retired from active duty in July 1953, receiving at that time the rank of Rear Admiral on the basis of his combat awards.

He died January 27, 1987, in Decatur , Georgia , and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia . His grave can be found in section 59, lot 485.

Lieutenant Commander Fuqua’s official Medal of Honor citation reads:

For distinguished conduct in action, outstanding heroism, and utter disregard of his own safety, above and beyond the call of duty during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor , by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Upon the commencement of the attack, Lieutenant Commander Fuqua rushed to the quarterdeck of the U.S.S. Arizona to which he was attached where he was stunned and knocked down by the explosion of a large bomb which hit the quarterdeck, penetrated several decks, and started a severe fire. Upon regaining consciousness, he began to direct the fighting of the fire and the rescue of wounded and injured personnel. Almost immediately there was a tremendous explosion forward, which made the ship appear to rise out of the water, shudder and settle down by the bow rapidly. The whole forward part of the ship was enveloped in flames which were spreading rapidly, and wounded and burned men were pouring out of the ship to the quarterdeck. Despite these conditions, his harrowing experience, and severe enemy bombing and strafing, at the time, Lieutenant Commander Fuqua continued to direct the fighting of fires in order to check them while the wounded and burned could be taken from the ship, and supervised the rescue of these men in such an amazingly calm and cool manner and with such excellent judgement, that it inspired everyone who saw him and undoubtedly resulted in the saving of many lives. After realizing that the ship could not be saved and that he was the senior surviving officer aboard, he directed that it be abandoned, but continued to remain on the quarterdeck and directed abandoning ship and rescue of personnel until satisfied that all personnel that could be had been saved, after which he left the ship with the (last) boatload. The conduct of Lieutenant Commander Fuqua was not only in keeping with the highest traditions of the Naval Service but characterizes him as an outstanding leader of men.

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Vernon McGarity

Posted on Jan 1, 2016

Vernon McGarity in 1945 with President Harry S. Truman

Vernon McGarity in 1945 with President Harry S. Truman

Vernon McGarity (December 1, 1921 – May 21, 2013) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

Born in Right, Tennessee (unincorporated Hardin County ) on December 1, 1921, McGarity joined the army in November 1942. By December 16, 1944, the first day of the Battle of the Bulge, he was serving near Krinkelt, Belgium as a technical sergeant in Company L of the 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division. Wounded early in the battle, McGarity returned to his unit and, as squad leader, directed and encouraged his soldiers throughout the intense fight which ensued. He repeatedly braved heavy fire to rescue wounded men, attack the advancing Germans, and retrieve supplies. Only after completely running out of ammunition were he and his squad captured. For his actions during the battle he was awarded the Medal of Honor a year later, on January 11, 1946. He died at the age of 91 in 2013.

Medal of Honor citation

His official citation reads:

He was painfully wounded in an artillery barrage that preceded the powerful counteroffensive launched by the Germans near Krinkelt , Belgium , on the morning of 16 December 1944. He made his way to an aid station, received treatment, and then refused to be evacuated, choosing to return to his hard-pressed men instead. The fury of the enemy’s great Western Front offensive swirled about the position held by T/Sgt. McGarity’s small force, but so tenaciously did these men fight on orders to stand firm at all costs that they could not be dislodged despite murderous enemy fire and the breakdown of their communications. During the day the heroic squad leader rescued 1 of his friends who had been wounded in a forward position, and throughout the night he exhorted his comrades to repulse the enemy’s attempts at infiltration. When morning came and the Germans attacked with tanks and infantry, he braved heavy fire to run to an advantageous position where he immobilized the enemy’s lead tank with a round from a rocket launcher. Fire from his squad drove the attacking infantrymen back, and 3 supporting tanks withdrew. He rescued, under heavy fire, another wounded American, and then directed devastating fire on a light cannon which had been brought up by the hostile troops to clear resistance from the area. When ammunition began to run low, T/Sgt. McGarity, remembering an old ammunition hole about 100 yards distant in the general direction of the enemy, braved a concentration of hostile fire to replenish his unit’s supply. By circuitous route the enemy managed to emplace a machinegun to the rear and flank of the squad’s position, cutting off the only escape route. Unhesitatingly, the gallant soldier took it upon himself to destroy this menace single-handedly. He left cover, and while under steady fire from the enemy, killed or wounded all the hostile gunners with deadly accurate rifle fire and prevented all attempts to re-man the gun. Only when the squad’s last round had been fired was the enemy able to advance and capture the intrepid leader and his men. The extraordinary bravery and extreme devotion to duty of T/Sgt. McGarity supported a remarkable delaying action which provided the time necessary for assembling reserves and forming a line against which the German striking power was shattered.

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