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PFC Henry Gurke - Fallen

Neche, ND
County: Pembina
World War II - Fallen
Date of Loss: November 9, 1943 / Age: 21
Branch of Service: Marines
Company / Ship / Flight or equivalent: 3D Marine Raider Battalion
Conflicts Served: 
  • World War II

The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps.
Born: 6 November 1922, Neche, N. Dak. Accredited to: North Dakota.


For extraordinary heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the 3d Marine Raider Battalion during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands area on 9 November 1943. While his platoon was engaged in the defense of a vital road block near Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville Island. Pfc. Gurke, in company with another Marine, was delivering a fierce stream of fire against the main vanguard of the Japanese. Concluding from the increasing ferocity of grenade barrages that the enemy was determined to annihilate their small, 2-man foxhole, he resorted to a bold and desperate measure for holding out despite the torrential hail of shells. When a Japanese grenade dropped squarely into the foxhole, Pfc. Gurke, mindful that his companion manned an automatic weapon of superior fire power and therefore could provide more effective resistance, thrust him roughly aside and flung his own body over the missile to smother the explosion. With unswerving devotion to duty and superb valor, Pfc. Gurke sacrificed himself in order that his comrade might live to carry on the fight. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.


Born January 4, 1922 in Neche North Dakota. Lived in Cavalier (Pembina County) ND until entering into the United States Marine Corps in Minneapolis MN on April 15, 1942. Served in the Asiatic Pacific Theater. Killed in Action November 9, 1943 on Bougainville Island, Just three days after his 21st birthday. Remains not recovered. 

On February 15, 1945 a DD Type Destroyer was Launched. The DD type Destroyer was named the USS GURKE in Private Gurke's honor. The Ship was sponsored by his mother Mrs. Julius Gurke.

Learn more about the USS Burke DD-783

Photo of gravesite.

More information

Medals and Honors

Medal of Honor - November 9, 1943