Captain's Quarters Blog

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May 31, 2004
Remembering Our Brave Soldiers

I want to send out my appreciation, admiration, and gratitude for our nation's men and women of the military, active duty and veteran alike. You make it possible for a man to sit down at his computer and talk about how he sees the world, complete with criticism of our nation's leaders, without fear of retribution or imprisonment -- or worse.

While I have never served in the military, my family has served in several conflicts. My father served in combat during the Korean War, and like most men with those experiences, he chooses not to speak of it. When he recalls his service to his country, he tells soldier's stories of grizzled non-coms, young and foolish junior officers, and commanders of either stripe. His oldest brother, who recently passed away, served in World War II in the Seabees, seeing action in the Pacific Theater. Two other brothers served in the Navy during peacetime. On my mother's side, all three uncles served in the military; the two oldest served in Vietnam (Marine Corps and Army), while the youngest spent fourteen years in the Air Force. I have cousins who served in all branches, and now my cousins' children are reaching the age of service. My second cousin Alec, for instance, currently serves his country in the Air Force. My father-in-law flew with the Marine Corps in both WWII and Korea, a fighter pilot who would laugh at his son-in-law's reluctance to fly commercially decades later. (I hate heights.) He passed away on the same day the US suspended combat operations in Gulf War I, saying just before his sudden heart attack that we would wind up back in the same place eventually.

For all of these men, and for the men and women of our proud tradition of service, I give you my thanks. Captain's Quarters wishes to pay tribute to all of you by publishing the story of Captain Ben Salomon, whose courage saved the lives of dozens of wounded Americans by single-handedly holding off a Japanese charge during the battle of Saipan. Captain Salomon received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroism on July 7, 1944:



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Captain Ben L. Salomon was serving at Saipan, in the Marianas Islands on July 7, 1944, as the Surgeon for the 2nd Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. The Regiments 1st and 2d Battalions were attacked by an overwhelming force estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 Japanese soldiers. It was one of the largest attacks attempted in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Although both units fought furiously, the enemy soon penetrated the Battalions combined perimeter and inflicted overwhelming casualties.

In the first minutes of the attack, approximately 30 wounded soldiers walked, crawled, or were carried into Captain Salomons aid station, and the small tent soon filled with wounded men. As the perimeter began to be overrun, it became increasingly difficult for Captain Salomon to work on the wounded. He then saw a Japanese soldier bayoneting one of the wounded soldiers lying near the tent. Firing from a squatting position, Captain Salomon quickly killed the enemy soldier. Then, as he turned his attention back to the wounded, two more Japanese soldiers appeared in the front entrance of the tent. As these enemy soldiers were killed, four more crawled under the tent walls. Rushing them, Captain Salomon kicked the knife out of the hand of one, shot another, and bayoneted a third. Captain Salomon butted the fourth enemy soldier in the stomach and a wounded comrade then shot and killed the enemy soldier.

Realizing the gravity of the situation, Captain Salomon ordered the wounded to make their way as best they could back to the regimental aid station, while he attempted to hold off the enemy until they were clear. Captain Salomon then grabbed a rifle from one of the wounded and rushed out of the tent. After four men were killed while manning a machine gun, Captain Salomon took control of it. When his body was later found, 98 dead enemy soldiers were piled in front of his position. Captain Salomons extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Check out the Milbloggers today on their Memorial Day tributes. Start with Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette and check out his links to others.

Edited to correct a factual error regarding Captain Salomon in the introduction.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 31, 2004 3:44 PM

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