By Katie Lange, Department of Defense
This blog is part of a weekly series called “Medal of Honor Monday,” in which we’ll highlight one of the more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who have earned the U.S. military’s highest medal for valor.
Having written these Medal of Honor blogs for more than a year now, I have to say it’s stunning just how many service members have given their lives by throwing themselves onto grenades to save their comrades. It has happened often in war, and Army Cpl. Gordon M. Craig is one of the many men who earned the nation’s highest honor for his selfless sacrifice.
While I haven’t been able to find much about his life before war, Craig grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts, and joined the Army sometime after high school. He was sent to Korea not long after the war began.
In the first half of September 1950, battle raged along the Naktong River in southeast Korea. It became known as the Second Battle of Naktong Bulge and was basically several large battles fought at the same time.
The Army’s 1st Cavalry Division was involved in the battle, and Craig’s 16th Reconnaissance Company was attached to that.
On Sept 10, 1950, Craig and his fellow soldiers were advancing on a hill held by the enemy when they were attacked by heavy grenade, mortar and small-arms fire. Craig and four other soldiers worked their way up the hill to destroy an enemy machine gun nest that was keeping their company from advancing.
As they pushed up the hill, one of the enemy threw a hand grenade at the small unit. Without thinking about his own life, Craig threw himself onto the grenade, smothering its explosion with his body.
Craig, who had turned 21 only the month before, died from his wounds. But his selfless actions inspired his fellow soldiers to attack the enemy with renewed vengeance. They were able to take out the machine gun nest’s crew and continue up the hill.
The Second Battle of Naktong Bulge was a victory for U.S. forces, who pushed the North Koreans out of the region. Craig’s contribution to the cause helped make that so.
Craig posthumously earned the Medal of Honor for his actions. It was awarded to his family on April 25, 1951.
Thank you, Corporal Craig, for your sacrifice and devotion!
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