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Monday, April 16, 2012
TFH 4/16: Corporal Duane E. Dewey, USMCR
Duane Edgar Dewey was born on November 16, 1931 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. At age 19 in March, 1951 he heard his Nation's call for the Korean War and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve for an "indefinite" time - a minimum of the war plus six months.
On April 16, 1952 - exactly 60 years ago today - Dewey was leading a machine gun squad with the 2nd Battalion/5th Marines. Already wounded, Dewey was being treated along with others by a Navy corpsman when he observed an enemy grenade landing nearby. He smothered the grenade with his body, yelling to the corpsman, "Doc, I got it in my hip pocket!" Not only did Corporal Duane E. Dewey receive our Nation's highest honor for his courage, he survived the grenade explosion.
From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:
DEWEY, DUANE E.
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Company E, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.). Place and date: Near Panmunjon, Korea, 16 April 1952. Entered service at: Muskegon, Mich. Born: 16 November 1931, Grand Rapids, Mich. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a gunner in a machine gun platoon of Company E, in action against enemy aggressor forces. When an enemy grenade landed close to his position while he and his assistant gunner were receiving medical attention for their wounds during a fierce night attack by numerically superior hostile forces, Cpl. Dewey, although suffering intense pain, immediately pulled the corpsman to the ground and, shouting a warning to the other marines around him. bravely smothered the deadly missile with his body, personally absorbing the full force of the explosion to save his comrades from possible injury or death. His indomitable courage, outstanding initiative, and valiant efforts in behalf of others in the face of almost certain death reflect the highest credit upon Cpl. Dewey and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
Here is the official Marine Corps history of Corporal Dewey's heroism. Duane Dewey was evacuated to a military hospital in Japan and from there home to the United States. His was the first Medal of Honor presented during his presidency by President Eisenhower. The former Supreme Allied Commander from World War II in Europe gave the Medal to the young Marine with the words, "You must have a body of steel."
Duane Dewey is still living sixty years after his courageous act of self-sacrifice and is today living in Florida. 2nd Battalion of the 5th Marine Regiment is still part of the 1st Marine Division and is based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California. The battalion's motto, "Retreat? Hell!" dates to World War I but certainly encompasses the corporal who, on April 16, 1952, chose to save his comrades and amazingly survived to tell the tale.