Monday, August 27, 2012

TFH 8/27: First Lieutenant Lee R. Hartell, USA

Lee Ross Hartell was born on August 23, 1923 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By the late 1940s, he had settled in Connecticut and joined the United States Army in Danbury in 1949.

Hartell was posted to Battery A of the 15th Field Artillery Battalion with the 2nd Infantry Division for combat in the Korean War. On this day in 1951, then First Lieutenant Hartell was acting as a forward observer attached to Company B, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment when the Communist enemy launched a ferocious attack on our soldiers' defensive position.

The intrepid lieutenant, just four days past his 28th birthday, disregarded every threat to himself to insure that he would be in the best position to call down devastating artillery fire on the attackers. Hartell's courage above and beyond the normal call of duty was credited as the key factor in maintaining the defense of strategic ground and ultimately was recognized with our Nation's highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:


Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Battery A, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Kobangsan-ni, Korea, 27 August 1951. Entered service at: Danbury, Conn. Birth: Philadelphia, Pa. G.O. No.: 16, 1 February 1952. Citation: 1st. Lt. Hartell, a member of Battery A, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an armed enemy of the United Nations. During the darkness of early morning, the enemy launched a ruthless attack against friendly positions on a rugged mountainous ridge. 1st Lt. Hartell, attached to Company B, 9th Infantry Regiment, as forward observer, quickly moved his radio to an exposed vantage on the ridge line to adjust defensive fires. Realizing the tactical advantage of illuminating the area of approach, he called for flares and then directed crippling fire into the onrushing assailants. At this juncture a large force of hostile troops swarmed up the slope in banzai charge and came within 10 yards of 1st Lt. Hartell's position. 1st Lt. Hartell sustained a severe hand wound in the ensuing encounter but grasped the microphone with his other hand and maintained his magnificent stand until the front and left flank of the company were protected by a close-in wall of withering fire, causing the fanatical foe to disperse and fall back momentarily. After the numerically superior enemy overran an outpost and was closing on his position, 1st Lt. Hartell, in a final radio call, urged the friendly elements to fire both batteries continuously. Although mortally wounded, 1st Lt. Hartell's intrepid actions contributed significantly to stemming the onslaught and enabled his company to maintain the strategic strongpoint. His consummate valor and unwavering devotion to duty reflect lasting glory on himself and uphold the noble traditions of the military service.

Lieutenant Hartell rests in peace at the New Saint Peter Cemetery in Danbury, Connecticut.

The descendent of the 15th Field Artillery Battalion - known today as the 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment - is forward deployed in South Korea as the artillery component of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division.

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