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Medal Of Honor Recipients


WWII Medal of Honor recipients:

 Private First Class Henry Gurke, U.S. Marine Corps

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.

North Dakota is home to 3 WWI Medal of Honor recipients: Willis Winter Bradley Jr., Fred E. Smith, and Nels T. Wold.

Willis Winter Bradley, Jr.

Commander Willis Winter Bradley, Jr. - U.S. Navy
MoH Citation: "For extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty while serving on the U.S.S. Pittsburgh, at the time of an accidental explosion of ammunition on that vessel. On 23 July 1917, some saluting cartridge cases were being reloaded in the after casemate: through an accident an explosion occurred. Comdr. Bradley (then Lieutenant), who was about to enter the casemate, was blown back by the explosion and rendered momentarily unconscious, but while still dazed, crawled into the casemate to extinguish burning materials in dangerous proximity to a considerable amount of powder, thus preventing further explosions."

The USS Bradley (FF-1041) was named in his honor.

Fred E. Smith

Lieutenant Colonel Fred E. Smith - U.S. Army
MoH Citation: "When communication from the forward regimental post of command to the battalion leading the advance had been interrupted temporarily by the infiltration of small parties of the enemy armed with machine guns, Lt. Col. Smith personally led a party of 2 other officers and 10 soldiers, and went forward to reestablish runner posts and carry ammunition to the front line. The guide became confused and the party strayed to the left flank beyond the outposts of supporting troops, suddenly coming under fire from a group of enemy machine guns only 50 yards away. Shouting to the other members of his party to take cover this officer, in disregard of his danger, drew his pistol and opened fire on the German guncrew. About this time he fell, severely wounded in the side, but regaining his footing, he continued to fire on the enemy until most of the men in his party were out of danger. Refusing first-aid treatment he then made his way in plain view of the enemy to a handgrenade dump and returned under continued heavy machine gun fire for the purpose of making another attack on the enemy emplacements. As he was attempting to ascertain the exact location of the nearest nest, he again fell, mortally wounded."

He is listed on the roster of the staff of the 1st North Dakota Regiment that saw service in the Spanish American War in Cuba.

Nels T. Wold

Private Nels T. Wold - U.S. Army
MoH Citation: "He rendered most gallant service in aiding the advance of his company, which had been held up by machine gun nests, advancing, with 1 other soldier, and silencing the guns, bringing with him, upon his return, 11 prisoners. Later the same day he jumped from a trench and rescued a comrade who was about to be shot by a German officer, killing the officer during the exploit. His actions were entirely voluntary, and it was while attempting to rush a 5th machine gun nest that he was killed. The advance of his company was mainly due to his great courage and devotion to duty."

Wold volunteered 5 times to single-handedly attack machine gun nests. He was successful each time except the last. His comrades charged the position, killed the occupants and recovered Wold's body.




Philippine Insurection CMOH Recipient

Nels T. Wold

Private Otto A. Boehler - National Guard
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Private Otto A. Boehler, United States Army, for most distinguished gallantry on 16 May 1899, while serving with Company I, 1st North Dakota Volunteer Infantry, in action at San Isidro, Luzon, Philippine Islands. With 21 other scouts, Private Boehler charged across a burning bridge, under heavy fire, and completely routed 600 of the enemy who were entrenched in a strongly fortified position.