The Most Legendary Heroes in American History You’ve Never Heard Of

The Most Legendary Heroes in American History You’ve Never Heard Of

We hope you’re enjoying a relaxing weekend while not losing sight of its deeper meaning and the reality that without the sacrifice of those who served, our world today would look very different.

With the reason why we celebrate Memorial Day fresh in our minds, we want to go over the lives of four largely forgotten American soldiers whose commitment to service and willingness to sacrifice represents the best of America.

Here are four heroes that gave what President Abraham Lincoln called the “last full measure of devotion.”

Freddie Stowers

Mrs. Barbara Bush passing the case with the Medal of Honor to Mrs. Georgina Palmer, from Richmond, California (88 years). The Medal of Honor was presented posthumously today at the White House to the sisters of Corporal (CPL) Freddie Stowers, a native of Anderson County South Carolina for action during World War I by President George H. W. Bush. CPL Stowers is the only Black American to receive the Medal for action during World War I. [Photo Credit: Robert Ward, DOD PA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

At Congress’ request in 1990, the Department of the Army investigated to determine if any service members or veterans were deserving of the Medal of Honor, posthumous or otherwise.

Freddie Stowers’ battlefield heroics, forgotten for more than 70 years, were revealed shortly afterward.

While serving in a segregated American unit under French command, officers ordered Stowers’ company to seize a heavily fortified hill in the Ardennes.

The surviving German defenders feigned surrender after the initial American assault, only to eliminate one-half of Stowers’ company in an ambush. As the highest-ranking survivor, Stowers reorganized his comrades and led them in a successful counterattack to seize the German’s first trench line. During his company’s advance on the hill’s second defensive ring, enemy fire hit Stowers twice. He continued to urge his men forward, even after he had collapsed from being mortally wounded. Despite Stowers’ death, his brother-in-arms took the hill that day.

Ben L. Salomon

It appears that one Marine is relieving another on the beach at Saipan but they are really crawling under enemy fire, to their assigned positions. June 1944. Sgt. James Burns. (Marine Corps) Exact Date Shot Unknown NARA FILE #: 127-GR-113-83260 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1174 [Photo Credit: Sgt. James Burns, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Salomon joined the Army as a dentist before eventually becoming a battalion field surgeon. As the Battle of Saipan approached its climax on July 7, 1944, Salomon tended to wounded American soldiers at an aid station. None of the Americans knew the largest banzai charge of the war was about to slam headfirst into the 105th Infantry Regiment. Nearly 4,500 Japanese soldiers and civilians — many without firearms, some already maimed — overran the Americans’ forward line and sprinted with reckless abandon toward the field hospital. Salomon ordered its occupants’ evacuation while providing covering fire.

His fate amid the chaos of battle was initially unknown. Eventually, GIs found his body slumped over a machine gun with 98 dead Japanese soldiers strewn in front of it. He had sustained nearly 200 gunshot and bayonet wounds.

Frank Luke

Photo from the Lou Larson Collection. Repository: San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive [Photo Credit: SDASM Archives, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons]

Luke, the second most prolific American fighter ace of World War I, after Eddie Rickenbacker, who survived the conflict, became the first airman to receive the Medal of Honor. After downing 18 aircraft in the summer and early fall of 1918, Luke went on a final strafing run against enemy barrage balloons when a German machine gunner from the ground hit him with a single bullet. Despite the severity of his wound, Luke landed his plane and expired from blood loss while shooting at nearby Germans.

William H. Pitsenbarger

U.S. Army Bell UH-1D helicopters airlift members of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment from the Filhol Rubber Plantation area to a new staging area, during Operation “Wahiawa”, a search and destroy mission conducted by the 25th Infantry Division, northeast of Cu Chi, South Vietnam, 1966. [Photo Credit: James K. F. Dung, SFC, Photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Pitsenbarger flew in over 300 rescue missions in Vietnam before his death in 1966. On April 11 of that year, he participated in the rescue of half a dozen wounded GIs near the village of Cam My.

Almost immediately, things went wrong for the Americans. Pitsenbarger had to waive off his air support after the helicopters came under withering small arms fire. During what became known as the Battle of Xa Cam My, he made improvised splints and stretchers, armed the wounded who could fight and led them in a heroic resistance to fend off the encroaching Viet Cong.

Sometime during the night, a VC sniper fired the shot that claimed Pitsenbarger’s life. He was found still clutching a medkit in one hand and a rifle in the other.

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