By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity
This blog is part of a weekly series called “Medal of Honor Monday,” in which we’ll highlight one of the 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who have earned the U.S. military’s highest medal for valor.
By this time of the year in 1944, World War II was raging across several continents, including in North Africa, where American troops had landed months before to help the Allies fight off Italy’s Hitler-backed forces that had invaded the region early in the war.
Since today is April 9th, we thought we’d highlight a man who earned his Medal of Honor on this day 75 years ago during that campaign.
Robert D. Booker was your average 21-year-old from Callaway, Nebraska, when he joined the Army in 1942. Less than a year later, he was a private serving with the 133rd Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division in Tunisia as part of Operation Torch to push back the Axis powers in the region.
On April 9, 1943, Booker was heavily involved in the fight with the enemy near Fondouk, Tunisia. Despite being the target of two enemy machine guns and several mortars, he chose to run across 200 yards of open desert to get to a point where he could fire back.
Even though he was wounded during his run, he used his machine gun to take out one of the enemy machine guns trained on him. As he started to fire at the second, he was hit again – this time fatally.
Before he died, he used his remaining strength to encourage his fellow squad members to continue firing as he directed them.
About a month after his death, American troops successfully forced the surrender of Axis troops in Tunisia, ending the campaign in North Africa.
For his self-sacrifice and courage, Booker’s family received the Medal of Honor on his behalf on April 25, 1944.
The 22-year-old was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in his hometown. Years later, he was honored again when Metropolitan Community College, Fort Omaha campus named the Booker Building after him.
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