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Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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Korean War - U.S. Marine Corps

William E. Barber

Details
  • Rank: Captain (Highest Rank: Colonel)
  • Conflict/Era: Korean War
  • Unit/Command:
    Company F, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines,
    1st Marine Division (Rein)
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Marine Corps
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: November 28 - December 2, 1950
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Chosin Reservoir, Korea
Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of Company F, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea from 28 November to 2 December 1950. Assigned to defend a three-mile mountain pass along the division's main supply line and commanding the only route of approach in the march from Yudam-ni to Hagaru-ri, Captain Barber took position with his battle-weary troops, and, before nightfall, had dug in and set up a defense along the frozen, snow-covered hillside. When a force of estimated regimental strength savagely attacked during the night, inflicting heavy casualties and finally surrounding his position following a bitterly fought seven-hour conflict, Captain Barber, after repulsing the enemy, gave assurance that he could hold if supplied by airdrops and requested permission to stand fast when orders were received by radio to fight his way back to a relieving force after two reinforcing units had been driven back under fierce resistance in their attempts to reach the isolated troops. Aware that leaving the position would sever contact with the 8,000 marines trapped at Yudam-ni and jeopardize their chances of joining the 3,000 more awaiting their arrival in Hagaru-ri for the continued drive to the sea, he chose to risk loss of his command rather than sacrifice more men if the enemy seized control and forced a renewed battle to regain the position, or abandon his many wounded who were unable to walk. Although severely wounded in the leg in the early morning of the 29th, Captain Barber continued to maintain personal control, often moving up and down the lines on a stretcher to direct the defense and consistently encouraging and inspiring his men to supreme efforts despite the staggering opposition. Waging desperate battle throughout five days and six nights of repeated onslaughts launched by the fanatical aggressors, he and his heroic command accounted for approximately 1,000 enemy dead in this epic stand in bitter subzero weather, and when the company was relieved, only 82 of his original 220 men were able to walk away from the position so valiantly defended against insuperable odds. His profound faith and courage, great personal valor, and unwavering fortitude were decisive factors in the successful withdrawal of the division from the deathtrap in the Chosin Reservoir sector and reflect the highest credit upon Captain Barber, his intrepid officers and men, and the United States Naval Service.

USED WITH PERMISSION, COPYRIGHT NICK DELCALZO
USED WITH PERMISSION, COPYRIGHT NICK DELCALZO
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: West Liberty, Morgan Coounty, Kentucky
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: August 20, 1952

    The White House, presented by Pres. Harry S. Truman

  • Born: November 30, 1919, Dehart, Morgan County, KY, United States
  • Died: April 19, 2002, Irvine, CA, United States
  • Buried: Arlington National Cemetery (MH) (66-6904), Arlington, VA, United States
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