Thursday, September 20, 2012

TFH 9/20: PFC Walter C. Monegan, Jr., USMC

Walter Carleton Monegan, Jr. was born on Christmas Day, 1930 in Melrose, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the United States Army in November, 1947 when still sixteen years old. After his underage status was discovered, the Army discharged him.

Determined to serve his country, Monegan then enlisted on March 22, 1948 with the United States Marine Corps, who would accept 17 year-olds. On September 15, 1950, as part of the 1st Marine Division, he landed with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment at Inchon in the United States' first major offensive operation of the Korean War.

Private First Class Monegan was a rocket gunner armed with a World War II-era M9A1 Bazooka. As the Marines advanced inland towards the South Korean capital of Seoul, he repeatedly put himself at risk to engage enemy armor. He personally destroyed three North Korean T-34 tanks - one on September 17, two on September 20 - before he was cut down by a Communist machine gun. His amazing courage in the face of the enemy saw him posthumously decorated with our Nation's highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps, Company F, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.). Place and date: Near Sosa-ri, Korea, 17 and 20 September 1950. Entered service at: Seattle, Wash. Born: 25 December 1930, Melrose, Mass. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rocket gunner attached to Company F, and in action against enemy aggressor forces. Dug in on a hill overlooking the main Seoul highway when 6 enemy tanks threatened to break through the battalion position during a predawn attack on 17 September, Pfc. Monegan promptly moved forward with his bazooka, under heavy hostile automatic weapons fre and engaged the lead tank at a range of less than 50 yards. After scoring a direct hit and killing the sole surviving tankman with his carbine as he came through the escape hatch, he boldly fired 2 more rounds of ammunition at the oncoming tanks, disorganizing the attack and enabling our tank crews to continue blasting with their 90-mm guns. With his own and an adjacent company's position threatened by annihilation when an overwhelming enemy tank-infantry force bypassed the area and proceeded toward the battalion command post during the early morning of September 20, he seized his rocket launcher and, in total darkness, charged down the slope of the hill where the tanks had broken through. Quick to act when an illuminating shell lit the area, he scored a direct hit on one of the tanks as hostile rifle and automatic-weapons fire raked the area at close range. Again exposing himself, he fired another round to destroy a second tank and, as the rear tank turned to retreat, stood upright to fire and was fatally struck down by hostile machine gun fire when another illuminating shell silhouetted him against the sky. Pfc. Monegan's daring initiative, gallant fighting spirit and courageous devotion to duty were contributing factors in the success of his company in repelling the enemy, and his self-sacrificing efforts throughout sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Walter C. Monegan, Jr. today rests in peace with our Nation's most honored at Arlington National Cemetery. His unit, 2nd Battalion/1st Marines, is still part of the 1st Marine Division. Their home station is Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California. They are currently assigned and deployed as the ground combat element of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in the Western Pacific Ocean.

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