Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TFH 11/27: Lieutenant Colonel Don C. Faith, Jr., USA

Don Carlos Faith, Jr. was born in Washington, Indiana on August 26, 1918. He intended to follow his father into the United States Army and applied to the United States Military Academy, West Point but was rejected on medical/dental grounds. After graduating from Georgetown University in 1941, he was again found medically ineligible for service during his draft physical, appealed, and was accepted into the Army on June 25, 1941. He attended Officer Candidates School, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on February 26, 1942.

Faith served for most of World War II with America's first airborne fighting force: the 82nd Airborne Division. He jumped into battle with the "All Americans" on each of the four times they did so: Sicily, Salerno, Normandy, and Grave/Nijmegen. By war's end he was a Lieutenant Colonel on the staff of Major General Maxwell Taylor. He remained in the Army, and in 1950 was the commander of the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment on occupation duty in Japan with the 7th Infantry Division.

With the outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, the 7th's formations were scavenged to provide reinforcements for the American forces on the Korean peninsula. After receiving replacements from the United States and by South Korean conscripts, the division was committed to battle and participated in the landings at both Inchon and Wonsan.

In the early winter cold and snow of November 1950, the Chinese Communist forces pouring into Korea engaged the Americans and allies in what became the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. For four days at the battle's outset until he was listed as missing in action and presumed killed, Lieutenant Colonel Faith led his battalion at every level both at his headquarters and in direct action against the enemy as they broke out from being surrounded. His actions resulted in the award of the Medal of Honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:


Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Place and date: Vicinity Hagaru-ri, Northern Korea, 27 November to 1 December 1950. Entered service at: Washington, Ind. Born: 26 August 1918, Washington, Ind. G.O. No.: 59, 2 August 1951. Citation: Lt. Col. Faith, commanding 1st Battalion, distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty in the area of the Chosin Reservoir. When the enemy launched a fanatical attack against his battalion, Lt. Col. Faith unhesitatingly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire as he moved about directing the action. When the enemy penetrated the positions, Lt. Col. Faith personally led counterattacks to restore the position. During an attack by his battalion to effect a junction with another U.S. unit, Lt. Col. Faith reconnoitered the route for, and personally directed, the first elements of his command across the ice-covered reservoir and then directed the movement of his vehicles which were loaded with wounded until all of his command had passed through the enemy fire. Having completed this he crossed the reservoir himself. Assuming command of the force his unit had joined he was given the mission of attacking to join friendly elements to the south. Lt. Col. Faith, although physically exhausted in the bitter cold, organized and launched an attack which was soon stopped by enemy fire. He ran forward under enemy small-arms and automatic weapons fire, got his men on their feet and personally led the fire attack as it blasted its way through the enemy ring. As they came to a hairpin curve, enemy fire from a roadblock again pinned the column down. Lt. Col. Faith organized a group of men and directed their attack on the enemy positions on the right flank. He then placed himself at the head of another group of men and in the face of direct enemy fire led an attack on the enemy roadblock, firing his pistol and throwing grenades. When he had reached a position approximately 30 yards from the roadblock he was mortally wounded, but continued to direct the attack until the roadblock was overrun. Throughout the 5 days of action Lt. Col. Faith gave no thought to his safety and did not spare himself. His presence each time in the position of greatest danger was an inspiration to his men. Also, the damage he personally inflicted firing from his position at the head of his men was of material assistance on several occasions. Lt. Col. Faith's outstanding gallantry and noble self-sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty reflect the highest honor on him and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army. (This award supersedes the prior award of the Silver Star (First Oak Leaf Cluster) as announced in G.O. No. 32, Headquarters X Corps, dated 23 February 1951, for gallantry in action on 27 November 1950.)

At the time, Lieutenant Colonel Faith's remains were not recovered. The grave of his parents, Brigadier General Don C. Faith, Sr. and mother Katherine, at Arlington National Cemetery is a cenotaph in his honor.

On October 11, 2012 - nearly sixty-two years after the action that claimed his life and earned him the Medal of Honor - the Defense Prisoner of War - Missing Personnel Office announced that his remains had, at last, been recovered and identified. No announcement has been made where or when Lieutenant Colonel Don Carlos Faith, Jr. will be laid to rest with the full military honors he so assuredly deserves.

The 7th Infantry Division was recently reactivated to serve as an administration and training headquarters for the elements of the 2nd Infantry Division stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment today is part of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division. They are based at Fort Drum, New York.

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