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At a Sullivan High School alumnus group meeting I attended over a year ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful senior citizen (and dog breeder) named George - who, I believe graduated from Sullivan High School, Class of ’48 or ’49.

At a Sullivan High School alumnus group meeting I attended over a year ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful senior citizen (and dog breeder) named George - who, I believe graduated from Sullivan High School, Class of ’48 or ’49.

During our discussion, he told me about his service in the Korean War, and about the rigors and extreme hardship endured by him and his brethren in the First Marine Division, in the icy and freezing mountains near the North Korean port of Hungnam.
march to glory cover“Read the book ‘March to Glory’ by Robert Leckie, he told me (published in 1960). In that book the author tells the real story of what we dealt with."

Upon returning home, I quickly ordered a used copy of the book, and, upon receiving it, I did with it the same as I do with most books - read a few pages, and then allow it to achieve a level of anonymity attained by rows of great books I want and intend to read, but never get around to reading.

This morning, Memorial Day, I picked up the book and read earnestly this tragic account of the unimaginable horrors of war.

With the aid of this book, I would care to mention one soldier’s name, mentioned in only a single sentence, on page. 107.


Describing a Marine company’s experience, being surrounded by and facing attack near the Chosin area:
“The Chinese were coming down, closing ito grenade throwing range. A hissing object fell with a clatter into a truck crowded with Marines.
“Grenade!”

Pfc. William Baugh threw himself on it, smothering the explosion with his body. He died so that all his comrades might live.
In and out of the trucks, fight on, follow the tanks, force a passage.”

I contemplated the horror of a grenade landing in the center of a confined area, with the devastation of the explosion sure to kill and maim all soldiers within a few feet of the device. With only a brief second to think, the natural instinct that would overcome a lone soldier, preparing to sacrifice his life in order to save him fellow soldier. The selflessness. The bravery. The sacrifice. All in a brief moment.

Later on this morning, I opted to Google William Baugh’s name, and I came upon a Wikipedia entry.

"Private First Class William Bernard Baugh (July 7, 1930 – November 29, 1950) was a United States Marine who, at age 20, received the Medal of Honor in Korea for sacrificing his life to save his Marine comrades. The nation’s highest decoration for valor was presented to the young Marine for extraordinary heroism on November 29, 1950, between Koto-ri and Hagaru-ri, when he protected the members of his squadron from a grenade by smothering it with his body.

Private First Class Baugh was the 15th Marine to receive the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Korean War. Born July 7, 1930, in McKinney, Kentucky, William Bernard Baugh was employed by Harrison Shoe Corporation before his enlistment in the Marine Corps on January 23, 1948, at the age of 17. He attended public schools in Butler County, Ohio.

...
PFC William B BaughThe President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS WILLIAM B. BAUGHUNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a member of an Anti-Tank Assault Squad attached to Company G, Third Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), during a nighttime enemy attack against a motorized column en route from Koto-Ri to Hagaru-ri, Korea, on November 29, 1950. Acting instantly when a hostile grenade landed in his truck as he and his squad prepared to alight and assist in the repulse of an enemy force delivering intense automatic-weapons and grenade fire from deeply entrenched and well-concealed roadside positions, Private First Class Baugh quickly shouted a warning to the other men in the vehicle and, unmindful of his own personal safety, hurled himself upon the deadly missile, thereby saving his comrades from serious injury or possible death. Sustaining severe wounds from which he died a short time afterward, Private First Class Baugh, by his superb courage and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice, upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.HARRY S. TRUMAN"

This Memorial Day, I choose to honor the memory of a single soldier - a man who, until this morning, I knew nothing about, a soldier who deserves our nation’s respect and gratitude