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Merritt Austin “Red” Edson

Posted on Dec 15, 2016


Rank and organization: Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps.
Place and date: As Commanding Officer of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion, with Parachute Battalion attached, Solomon Islands, on the night of 13-14 September 1942.
Born: 25 April 1897, Rutland, Vermont.
Appointed from: Vermont.
Other Navy awards: Navy Cross with Gold Star, Silver Star Medal, Legion of Merit with Gold Star.

After the airfield on Guadalcanal had been seized from the enemy on 8 August, Col. Edson, with a force of 800 men, was assigned to the occupation and defense of a ridge dominating the jungle on either side of the airport. Facing a formidable Japanese attack which, augmented by infiltration, had crashed through our front lines, he, by skillful handling of his troops, successfully withdrew his forward units to a reserve line with minimum casualties.

When the enemy, in a subsequent series of violent assaults, engaged our force in desperate hand-to-hand combat with bayonets, rifles, pistols, grenades, and knives, Col. Edson, although continuously exposed to hostile fire throughout the night, personally directed defense of the reserve position against a fanatical foe of greatly superior numbers. By his astute leadership and gallant devotion to duty, he enabled his men, despite severe losses, to cling tenaciously to their position on the vital ridge, thereby retaining command not only of the Guadalcanal airfield, but also of the 1st Division’s entire offensive installations in the surrounding area.


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Charles William Davis

Posted on Dec 1, 2016

charles_willis_davisDavis joined the Army from Montgomery, Alabama, and by January 12, 1943 was serving as a captain in the 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. On that day, on the island of Guadalcanal during the Battle of Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse, he volunteered to carry messages to several companies which were pinned down by Japanese fire. He stayed with the companies overnight. A knoll on the south edge of the ridge (the “horse’s neck”) leading to Hill 53 was the fulcrum of the Japanese defenses. The knoll contained several machine-gun and mortar positions which had effectively held off the American attacks across the ridge. As 2nd Battalion’s executive officer Captain Davis volunteered to lead four other men against the knoll. Crawling on their bellies, Davis and his party crept to within 10 yd (9.1 m) of the enemy position. The Japanese defenders threw two grenades at them, but the grenades failed to explode. Davis and his men threw eight grenades at the Japanese, destroying several of their positions. Davis then stood up, and while shooting his rifle, then pistol with one hand, waved his men forward with the other as he advanced further onto the knoll. Davis and his men then killed or chased away the rest of the Japanese on the knoll. Silhouetted against the sky during the action, Davis was visible to the Americans all up and down the ridge. Inspired by his actions, plus replenished with water by a sudden thunderstorm, the American troops “came to life” and quickly assaulted and captured Hill 53 by noon. The Americans counted the bodies of 170 Japanese soldiers on and around the Galloping Horse. The Americans suffered fewer than 100 killed. He was subsequently promoted to major and, on July 17, 1943, awarded the Medal of Honor.

Davis reached the rank of colonel and served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars before leaving the Army. He died at age 73 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia.

Davis’ official Medal of Honor citation reads:

For distinguishing himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy on Guadalcanal Island. On January 12, 1943, Maj. Davis (then Capt.), executive officer of an infantry battalion, volunteered to carry instructions to the leading companies of his battalion which had been caught in crossfire from Japanese machineguns. With complete disregard for his own safety, he made his way to the trapped units, delivered the instructions, supervised their execution, and remained overnight in this exposed position. On the following day, Maj. Davis again volunteered to lead an assault on the Japanese position which was holding up the advance. When his rifle jammed at its first shot, he drew his pistol and, waving his men on, led the assault over the top of the hill. Electrified by this action, another body of soldiers followed and seized the hill. The capture of this position broke Japanese resistance and the battalion was then able to proceed and secure the corps objective. The courage and leadership displayed by Maj. Davis inspired the entire battalion and unquestionably led to the success of its attack.

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Kenneth D. Bailey

Posted on Nov 15, 2016

kenneth-d-baileyAwarded posthumously

Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Marine Corps.

Place and date: As Commanding Officer of Company C, 1st Marine Raider Battalion, during the enemy Japanese attack on Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 12-13 September 1942.

Born: 21 October 1910, Pawnee, Oklahoma.

Appointed from: Illinois.

Other Navy awards: Silver Star Medal.

Completely reorganized following the severe engagement of the night before, Maj. Bailey’s company, within an hour after taking its assigned position as reserve battalion between the main line and the coveted airport, was threatened on the right flank by the penetration of the enemy into a gap in the main line. In addition to repulsing this threat, while steadily improving his own desperately held position, he used every weapon at his command to cover the forced withdrawal of the main line before a hammering assault by superior enemy forces.

After rendering invaluable service to the battalion commander in stemming the retreat, reorganizing the troops and extending the reverse position to the left, Maj. Bailey, despite a severe head wound, repeatedly led his troops in fierce hand-to-hand combat for a period of 10 hours. His great personal valor while exposed to constant and merciless enemy fire, and his indomitable fighting spirit inspired his troops to heights of heroic endeavor which enabled them to repulse the enemy and hold Henderson Field. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

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John Druse “Bud” Hawk

Posted on Nov 1, 2016


On August 20, 1944, John D. “Bud” Hawk (1924-2013) received the Medal of Honor for heroic actions during World War II. Sergeant Hawk, Company E, 359th Regiment, 90th Infantry Division, manning a machine gun, held back encircled German forces attempting a breakout. Artillery fire destroyed Sergeant Hawk’s machine gun. He then directed the assembly of a replacement machine gun from parts. Despite wounds he directed anti-tank fire that stopped the German tank advance. Following the war, John Hawk graduated from the University of Washington and erved for 31 years as an educator.

From High School to War

John Druse “Bud” Hawk was born in San Francisco, California, and grew up in the Rollingbay area of Bainbridge Island, Washington. Two weeks after his 1943 Bainbridge High School graduation, he enlisted in the Army. In August 1944, his unit, Company E, 359th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division, was advancing across France.

By August 20, a large German force had been encircled and almost trapped in the Falaise Pocket. However, there was a gap that allowed many to slip away. Allied forces were moved into the area to close the gap and prevent further escape. Sergeant Hawk’s unit was committed to a sector near Chambois, France, and instructed to close the opening and capture a large force of the German Seventh Army. The 359th Infantry Regiment joined with Canadian forces to seal the trap.

Sergeant Hawk manned a light machine gun. During an enemy counterattack his position was menaced by a strong force of tanks and infantry. His machine-gun fire forced the enemy infantry to pull back. During the counterattack an artillery shell knocked out his machine gun and wounded him in the right thigh. With a bazooka, Sergeant Hawk and another soldier attacked the tanks and forced them to retreat. Sergeant Hawk then reorganized two machine-gun squads and assembled a machine gun from two damaged guns.

While holding off the enemy, an American tank destroyer hidden in an orchard behind the forward position came forward. Due to the terrain, the tank destroyer crew could not see the German tanks, nor could the enemy tanks see it. Sergeant Hawk went up forward to direct the tank destroyer fire. He was in the open and came under fire as he directed the American tank destroyer fire. He had to run back and forth from his forward position to the tank destroyer to deliver fire direction since in the noise of battle the crew could not hear his commands. Despite a leg wound Sergeant Hawk continued his forward observation fire control. His efforts and that of the tank destroyer stopped the three enemy tanks. With the German breakout halted, more than 500 prisoners were captured.

The 359th remained in battle. By Thanksgiving 1944 the Company E light-machine-gun squad was at a roadblock near Metz, France. As part of the Third Army the squad was on the way to the Siegfried Line and into Germany. Thanksgiving Day was quiet, so they received a traditional dinner with turkey, dressing, and pie. Many of the troops, having lived on field rations for some time, became sick from the change in diet.

The 359th continued its movement to Germany. By the end of the war Sergeant Hawk had been wounded four times, earning four Purple Hearts.


President Harry S. Truman presents the Medal of Honor to Sgt. John D. Hawk in Olympia, Wash., in June 1945. Gov. Mon Wallgren is at right. (Courtesy of Harry S. Truman Library)

Medal of Honor

In June 1945, Sergeant Hawk came home on a 30-day leave. He stayed at his father’s home in Bremerton and enjoyed sleeping in, home-cooked meals, and hunting. On June 8, he learned he would receive the Medal of Honor in an extraordinary way. President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) came out to the West Coast and presented the Medal of Honor to Sergeant “Bud” Hawk.

The ceremony took place on the Washington State Capitol steps in Olympia. President Truman, a World War I veteran, related that Sergeant Hawk was largely responsible for the capture of 500 German troops. The President said that he “would rather have this medal than any other which can come to men” (“Sergt. Hawk Praised For Battle Deed”).

The Years as Educator

On July 20, 1945, in the office of Major General Joseph D. Patch (1885-1966), Sergeant Hawk received his discharge. Sergeant Hawk decided to utilize his veteran’s educational benefits to attend college. He attended Bremerton’s Olympic Junior College (now Olympic College) and the University of Washington, graduating with a degree in biology. In 1952 Bud Hawk became a 5th and 6th grade teacher at Tracyton Elementary School, Bremerton. Five years later he transferred to Bremerton’s Brownsville Elementary and later became its principal. When a new school was to be built, “Bud” Hawk served on the planning team. The school, named Woodlands Elementary, was completed, and he became its first principal.

The former Sergeant “Bud” Hawk would honor America’s military his entire life. He served on Bremerton committees that supported the military and attended numerous events to represent the nation as a Medal of Honor recipient.

Tragedy and Service

In 1956, he was scheduled to fly to France in July to help dedicate American military cemeteries. Sadly, on May 11, his 6-year-old son, David Hawk, was struck by an automobile and killed. Bud Hawk considered his overseas attendance a duty, but did not want to leave his wife at home grieving alone. The Bremerton community stepped in and purchased a ticket for her so they both could travel.

John “Bud” Hawk and other Medal of Honor recipients represented veterans at the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle. On March 22, 1963, he attended ceremonies at Fort Lewis commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Medal of Honor. Washington’s nine living Medal of Honor recipients were honored at the ceremony, though only six were healthy enough to attend. During the event Hawk visited with Fort Lewis commander Major General Frederick Zierath (1910-1999) and offered his support to the troops. In May that year Hawk attended a reception for Medal of Honor recipients at the White House given by President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963).

Teacher, Principal, Soldier

John Hawk served 31 years in the Central Kitsap School District as a teacher and principal. On April 5, 2008, he received the Medal of Honor flag on the State Capitol steps where he had received his medal years earlier. Hawk said that what he did was not exceptional; he was doing what other soldiers did.

On February 26, 2010, the U.S. Post Office in Rollingbay on Bainbridge Island was named in his honor. The post office is located near where he grew up. A plaque in the post office honors Sergeant Hawk and an Army Education Center at Lewis North of Joint Base Lewis-McChord is named in his honor.

He died on November 4, 2013 at the age of 89. Jackson Park Elementary in Bremerton was renamed John D. “Bud” Hawk Elementary in his honor.

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Private Wilson D. Watson

Posted on Oct 15, 2016

Private Wilson D. Watson, United States Marine Corps Reserve

Wilson Douglas Watson, who received the Medal of Honor for heroism on Iwo Jima in World War II, was born on 16 February 1921 in Earle, Arkansas.

Before his enlistment in Little Rock, Arkansas, on 6 August 1942, he worked on his father’s farm and completed seven years of grade school. Pvt Watson received his basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, and went overseas 24 January 1943.

Serving as an automatic rifleman with the 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division during the bitter fighting on Iwo Jima, Pvt Watson earned the Medal of Honor for heroism during 26-27 February 1945, when he single-handedly killed more than 60 Japanese and enabled his pinned-down platoon to continue the advance. He was evacuated from Iwo Jima after suffering a gun shot wound in the neck on 2 March 1945. He previously saw action at Bougainville and Guam.

Private Watson was presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman on 5 October 1945 at the White House. Following his discharge from the Marine Corps, he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private on 30 September 1946, eventually reaching the rank of specialist 5.

Specialist 5 Watson died on 19 December 1994 in Russellville, Arkansas.


Private Wilson D. Watson
United States Marine Corps Reserve

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Automatic Rifleman serving with the Second Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 26 and 27 February 1945. With his squad abruptly halted by intense fire from the enemy fortifications in the high rocky ridges and crags commanding the line of advance, Private Watson boldly rushed one pillbox and fired into the embrasure with his weapon, keeping the enemy pinned down single-handedly until he was in a position to hurl in a grenade and running to the rear of the emplacement to destroy the retreating Japanese and enable his platoon to take its objective. Again pinned down at the foot of a small hill, he dauntlessly scaled the jagged incline under fierce mortar and machine-gun barrages and with his assistant automatic rifleman charged the crest of the hill, firing from his hip. Fighting furiously against Japanese troops attacking with grenades and knee-mortars from the reverse slope, he stood fearlessly erict in his exposed position to cover the hostile entrenchments and held the hill under savage fire for fifteen minutes, killing sixty Japanese before his ammunition was exhausted and his platoon was able to join him. His courageous initiative and valiant fighting spirit against devastating odds were directly responsible for the continued advance of his platoon and his inspiring leadership throughout this bitterly fought action reflects the highest credit upon Private Watson and the United State Naval Service.

Harry S. Truman
President of the United States

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James Richard Hendrix

Posted on Oct 1, 2016

Image result for us army james richard hendrixJames Richard Hendrix was a World War II veteran and recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions during that war.

James Hendrix, the son of a sharecropper, was born on August 20, 1925, in the small town of Lepanto (Poinsett County) near Jonesboro (Craighead County), Arkansas. At an early age, he left school to work alongside his parents, Pearl Hendrix and James Hendrix Sr., on the family farm. In 1943, at age eighteen, Hendrix was drafted into the U.S. Army. After attending basic training in Florida, Private Hendrix was sent to Europe assigned to the Fifty-third Armored Infantry Battalion, Fourth Armored Division.

Hendrix, along with his unit, waited out the Allied invasion of Normandy on a ship in the English Channel. His unit then landed and began the march across France to Belgium as part of General George S. Patton?s Third Army.

On December 26, 1944, near Assenois, Belgium, Hendrix captured two enemy artillery gun crews and held off enemy machine gun fire as his wounded comrades were evacuated. According to his Medal of Honor citation, “Later in the attack he again left his vehicle, voluntarily, to aid two wounded soldiers, helpless and exposed to intense machine gun fire. Effectively silencing two hostile machine guns, he held off the enemy by his own fire until the wounded men were evacuated. Pvt. Hendrix again distinguished himself when he hastened to the aid of still another soldier who was trapped in a burning half-track. Braving enemy sniper fire and exploding mines and ammunition in the vehicle, he extricated the wounded man and extinguished his flaming clothing, thereby saving the life of his fellow soldier.”For what was called ‘superb courage and heroism’, he received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman at the White House on August 23, 1945.

Hendrix continued his military career following World War II, joining the paratroopers. Hendrix also served in the Korean War. He retired in 1965 at the rank of master sergeant.

Hendrix died on November 14, 2002, at his home in Davenport, Florida. He was survived by his wife, Helen; four daughters and their children; and two sisters. He is buried at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida.

For additional information:

Collier, Peter. Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor beyond the Call of Duty. New York: Workman Publishing Company, 2006.

Goldstein, Richard. “James R Hendrix, War Hero, Dies at 77.” New York Times, November 21, 2002. Online http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/21/us/james-r-hendrix-war-hero-dies-at-77.html (accessed November 1, 2012).

Ware, David. Beyond the Call of Duty, Arkansas Honors Its Veterans. Little Rock: Arkansas Secretary of State, 2002.

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