Friday, November 30, 2012

TFH 11/30 Edition 2: Private First Class Charles George, USA

Charles George, a Cherokee Indian, was born in Cherokee, North Carolina on August 23, 1932. He was sent to war in Korea with the United States Army's 45th Infantry Division. His assignment was fitting as the 45th had a tradition of high numbers of Native American soldiers, which was also reflected in the division's insignia and their nickname: "Thunderbird".

Sixty years ago today on November 30, 1952, George was a Private First Class with the 45th's 179th Infantry Regiment's 1st Battalion, Company C. While on a raiding mission, an enemy grenade landed amongst George and two of his comrades. His defensive action to smother the grenade with his own body ultimately cost him his life and assured the posthumous award of our Nation's highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Songnae-dong, Korea, 30 November 1952. Entered service at: Whittier, N.C. Born: 23 August 1932, Cherokee, N.C. G.O. NO.: 19, 18 March 1954. Citation: Pfc. George, a member of Company C, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy on the night of 30 November 1952. He was a member of a raiding party committed to engage the enemy and capture a prisoner for interrogation. Forging up the rugged slope of the key terrain feature, the group was subjected to intense mortar and machine gun fire and suffered several casualties. Throughout the advance, he fought valiantly and, upon reaching the crest of the hill, leaped into the trenches and closed with the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. When friendly troops were ordered to move back upon completion of the assignment, he and 2 comrades remained to cover the withdrawal. While in the process of leaving the trenches a hostile soldier hurled a grenade into their midst. Pfc. George shouted a warning to 1 comrade, pushed the other soldier out of danger, and, with full knowledge of the consequences, unhesitatingly threw himself upon the grenade, absorbing the full blast of the explosion. Although seriously wounded in this display of valor, he refrained from any outcry which would divulge the position of his companions. The 2 soldiers evacuated him to the forward aid station and shortly thereafter he succumbed to his wound. Pfc. George's indomitable courage, consummate devotion to duty, and willing self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit upon himself and uphold the finest traditions of the military service.

George rests in peace in his hometown of Cherokee in the Yellow Hill Cemetery. The 45th Infantry Division was disbanded in 1968 and its lineage and honors transferred to the 45th Infantry Brigade of the Oklahoma Army National Guard. The 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry is still a component of the present day 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. In addition to their state role of defending the citizens of Oklahoma during disaster or crisis, they have deployed in recent years to both Iraq and Afghanistan in their federal role.

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