Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War I - U.S. Army

Samuel Woodfill

  • Rank: First Lieutenant (Highest Rank: Major)
  • Conflict/Era: World War I
  • Unit/Command:
    Company M, 60th Infantry,
    5th Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: October 12, 1918
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Cunel, France
While he was leading his company against the enemy, his line came under heavy machine-gun fire, which threatened to hold up the advance. Followed by two soldiers at 25 yards, this officer went out ahead of his first line toward a machine-gun nest and worked his way around its flank, leaving the two soldiers in front. When he got within 10 yards of the gun it ceased firing, and four of the enemy appeared, three of whom were shot by 1st Lt. Woodfill. The fourth, an officer, rushed at 1st Lt. Woodfill, who attempted to club the officer with his rifle. After a hand-to-hand struggle, 1st Lt. Woodfill killed the officer with his pistol. His company thereupon continued to advance, until shortly afterwards another machine-gun nest was encountered. Calling on his men to follow, 1st Lt. Woodfill rushed ahead of his line in the face of heavy fire from the nest, and when several of the enemy appeared above the nest, he shot them, capturing three other members of the crew and silencing the gun. A few minutes later this officer for a third time demonstrated conspicuous daring by charging another machine-gun position, killing five men in one machine-gun pit with his rifle. He then drew his revolver and started to jump into the pit, when two other gunners only a few yards away turned their guns on him. Failing to kill them with his revolver, he grabbed a pick lying nearby and killed both of them. Inspired by the exceptional courage displayed by this officer, his men pressed on to their objective under severe shell and machine-gun fire.
Medal of Honor Recipient Samuel Woodfill
Medal of Honor Recipient Samuel Woodfill
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Bryantsburg, Jefferson County, Indiana
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: February 9, 1919
    Chaumont, France - presented by General John J. Pershing
  • Born: January 6, 1883, Jefferson County, IN, United States
  • Died: August 10, 1951
  • Buried: Arlington National Cemetery (MH) (34-642-A), Arlington, VA, United States

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