Wednesday, September 19, 2012

TFH 9/19: Sergeant William R. Jecelin, USA

William R. Jecelin was born in Baltimore, Maryland on May 6, 1930. He grew up there, and also joined the United States Army from that city. Early in the Korean War, he was sent into combat with Company C, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment as part of the 25th Infantry Division.

On September 19, 1950, then Sergeant Jecelin led his platoon in a frontal assault against a fortified enemy ridge line. Jecelin's soldiers charged forward with fixed bayonets and engaged the Communist enemy in hand-to-hand combat. As their attack was in imminent danger of being repulsed, he rose and led the platoon forward again as an enemy soldier flung a grenade at the American attackers. Jecelin set the lives of his men above his own and for his courage, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:


Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company C, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Saga, Korea, 19 September 1950. Entered service at: Baltimore, Md. Birth: Baltimore, Md. G.O. No.: 24, 25 April 1951. Citation: Sgt. Jecelin, Company C, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and Intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. His company was ordered to secure a prominent, sawtoothed ridge from a well-entrenched and heavily armed enemy. Unable to capture the objective in the first attempt, a frontal and flanking assault was launched. He led his platoon through heavy enemy fire and bursting shells, across ricefields and rocky terrain, in direct frontal attack on the ridge in order to draw fire away from the flanks. The unit advanced to the base of the cliff, where intense, accurate hostile fire stopped the attack. Realizing that an assault was the only solution, Sgt. Jecelin rose from his position firing his rifle and throwing grenades as he called on his men to follow him. Despite the intense enemy fire this attack carried to the crest of the ridge where the men were forced to take cover. Again he rallied his men and stormed the enemy strongpoint. With fixed bayonets they charged into the face of antitank fire and engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. After clubbing and slashing this force into submission the platoon was forced to take cover from direct frontal fire of a self-propelled gun. Refusing to be stopped he leaped to his feet and through sheer personal courage and fierce determination led his men in a new attack. At this instant a well-camouflaged enemy soldier threw a grenade at the remaining members of the platoon. He immediately lunged and covered the grenade with his body, absorbing the full force of the explosion to save those around him. This incredible courage and willingness to sacrifice himself for his comrades so imbued them with fury that they completely eliminated the enemy force. Sgt. Jecelin's heroic leadership and outstanding gallantry reflect the highest credit upon himself and uphold the esteemed traditions of the military service.

Sergeant Jecelin's remains were repatriated to the United States where he rests in peace at Bohemian Cemetery in his home town of Baltimore.

The 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry is currently inactive. The 25th Infantry Division defends our Nation and liberty from their home post of Schofield Barracks, Oahu, Hawaii.

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