Know Your Medal of Honor Recipients:
Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class George Edward Wahlen (US Navy) received his Medal of Honor for his actions on March 3, 1945, on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands group. His citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 2d Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano group on 3 March 1945. Painfully wounded in the bitter action on 26 February, Wahlen remained on the battlefield, advancing well forward of the frontlines to aid a wounded marine and carrying him back to safety despite a terrific concentration of fire. Tireless in his ministrations, he consistently disregarded all danger to attend his fighting comrades as they fell under the devastating rain of shrapnel and bullets, and rendered prompt assistance to various elements of his combat group as required. When an adjacent platoon suffered heavy casualties, he defied the continuous pounding of heavy mortars and deadly fire of enemy rifles to care for the wounded, working rapidly in an area swept by constant fire and treating 14 casualties before returning to his own platoon. Wounded again on 2 March, he gallantly refused evacuation, moving out with his company the following day in a furious assault across 600 yards of open terrain and repeatedly rendering medical aid while exposed to the blasting fury of powerful Japanese guns. Stouthearted and indomitable, he persevered in his determined efforts as his unit waged fierce battle and, unable to walk after sustaining a third agonizing wound, resolutely crawled 50 yards to administer first aid to still another fallen fighter. By his dauntless fortitude and valor, Wahlen served as a constant inspiration and contributed vitally to the high morale of his company during critical phases of this strategically important engagement. His heroic spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of overwhelming enemy fire upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
Captain Francis B. Wai (US Army) received his Medal of Honor for his actions on October 20, 1944, at Leyte, Philippine Islands. His citation reads:
Captain Francis B. Wai distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action, on 20 October 1944, in Leyte, Philippine Islands. Captain Wai landed at Red Beach, Leyte, in the face of accurate, concentrated enemy fire from gun positions advantageously located in a palm grove bounded by submerged rice paddies. Finding the first four waves of American soldiers leaderless, disorganized, and pinned down on the open beach, he immediately assumed command. Issuing clear and concise orders, and disregarding heavy enemy machine gun and rifle fire, he began to move inland through the rice paddies without cover. The men, inspired by his cool demeanor and heroic example, rose from their positions and followed him. During the advance, Captain Wai repeatedly determined the locations of enemy strong points by deliberately exposing himself to draw their fire. In leading an assault upon the last remaining Japanese pillbox in the area, he was killed by its occupants. Captain Wai's courageous, aggressive leadership inspired the men, even after his death, to advance and destroy the enemy. His intrepid and determined efforts were largely responsible for the rapidity with which the initial beachhead was secured. Captain Wai's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.
First Lieutenant John Wainwright (US Army) received his Medal of Honor for his actions on January 15, 1865, at Fort Fisher, North Carolina. His citation reads:
Gallant and meritorious conduct, where, as first lieutenant, he commanded the regiment.
As I’m sure you know by now, we’ve lost some famous people recently. I won’t talk about all of them here… but in case you missed it, Natalie Cole (a wonderful Grammy-winning singer and daughter of the late-great Nat King Cole) passed away on December 31 at the age of 65. Wayne Rogers, best known for his role of Captain “Trapper” John McIntyre in the GREAT TV series M*A*S*H, also passed away on December 31 at the age of 82.
CONGRATS to Ken Griffey, Jr and Mike Piazza on being named to the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame class. Griffey, Jr. was one of the most natural players I’ve ever seen in my life. He went from being the first player drafted in the 1987 MLB draft, to earning 99.3% of the vote on his first ballot for the Hall of Fame. Drafted in the 62nd round by Tommy Lasorda and the Dodgers in 1988 as a favor to his father, Piazza received 83% of the vote in his fourth time on the ballot. Both of these guys had great careers… CONGRATS!!!!
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