|BAKER, Thomas A. [posthumously]
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company A,
105th Infantry, 27th Infantry Division.
Place and date: Saipan, Mariana Islands, 19 June to 7
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at
the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty at Saipan, Mariana
Islands, 19 June to 7 July 1944. When his entire company was held up by
fire from automatic weapons and small-arms fire from strongly fortified
enemy positions that commanded the view of the company, Sgt. (then Pvt.)
Baker voluntarily took a bazooka and dashed alone to within 100 yards of
the enemy. Through heavy rifle and machinegun fire that was directed at
him by the enemy, he knocked out the strong point, enabling his company
to assault the ridge. Some days later while his company advanced across
the open field flanked with obstructions and places of concealment for the
enemy, Sgt. Baker again voluntarily took up a position in the rear to protect
the company against surprise attack and came upon 2 heavily fortified enemy
pockets manned by 2 officers and 10 enlisted men which had been bypassed.
Without regard for such superior numbers, he unhesitatingly attacked and
killed all of them. Five hundred yards farther, he discovered 6 men of the
enemy who had concealed themselves behind our lines and destroyed all of
them. On 7 July 1944, the perimeter of which Sgt. Baker was a part was attacked
from 3 sides by from 3,000 to 5,000 Japanese. During the early stages of
this attack, Sgt. Baker was seriously wounded but he insisted on remaining
in the line and fired at the enemy at ranges sometimes as close as 5 yards
until his ammunition ran out. Without ammunition and with his own weapon
battered to uselessness from hand-to-hand combat, he was carried about 50
yards to the rear by a comrade, who was then himself wounded. At this point
Sgt. Baker refused to be moved any farther stating that he preferred to
be left to die rather than risk the lives of any more of his friends. A
short time later, at his request, he was placed in a sitting position against
a small tree . Another comrade, withdrawing, offered assistance. Sgt. Baker
refused, insisting that he be left alone and be given a soldier's pistol
with its remaining 8 rounds of ammunition. When last seen alive, Sgt. Baker
was propped against a tree, pistol in hand, calmly facing the foe. Later
Sgt. Baker's body was found in the same position, gun empty, with 8 Japanese
lying dead before him. His deeds were in keeping with the highest traditions
of the U.S. Army.
|O'BRIEN, William J. [posthumously]
Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army,
1st Battalion, 105th Infantry, 27th Infantry Division.
Place and date: Saipan, Marianas Islands, 20 June through
7 July 1944.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at
the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty at Saipan, Marianas
Islands, from 20 June through 7 July 1944. When assault elements of his
platoon were held up by intense enemy fire, Lt. Col. O'Brien ordered 3 tanks
to precede the assault companies in an attempt to knock out the strongpoint.
Due to direct enemy fire the tanks' turrets were closed, causing the tanks
to lose direction and to fire into our own troops. Lt. Col. O'Brien, with
complete disregard for his own safety, dashed into full view of the enemy
and ran to the leader's tank, and pounded on the tank with his pistol butt
to attract 2 of the tank's crew and, mounting the tank fully exposed to
enemy fire, Lt. Col. O'Brien personally directed the assault until the enemy
strongpoint had been liquidated. On 28 June 1944, while his platoon was
attempting to take a bitterly defended high ridge in the vicinity of Donnay,
Lt. Col. O'Brien arranged to capture the ridge by a double envelopment movement
of 2 large combat battalions. He personally took control of the maneuver.
Lt. Col. O'Brien crossed 1,200 yards of sniper-infested underbrush alone
to arrive at a point where 1 of his platoons was being held up by the enemy.
Leaving some men to contain the enemy he personally led 4 men into a narrow
ravine behind, and killed or drove off all the Japanese manning that strongpoint.
In this action he captured S machineguns and one 77-mm. fieldpiece. Lt.
Col. O'Brien then organized the 2 platoons for night defense and against
repeated counterattacks directed them. Meanwhile he managed to hold ground.
On 7 July 1944 his battalion and another battalion were attacked by an overwhelming
enemy force estimated at between 3,000 and 5,000 Japanese. With bloody hand-to-hand
fighting in progress everywhere, their forward positions were finally overrun
by the sheer weight of the enemy numbers. With many casualties and ammunition
running low, Lt. Col. O'Brien refused to leave the front lines. Striding
up and down the lines, he fired at the enemy with a pistol in each hand
and his presence there bolstered the spirits of the men, encouraged them
in their fight and sustained them in their heroic stand. Even after he was
seriously wounded, Lt. Col. O'Brien refused to be evacuated and after his
pistol ammunition was exhausted, he manned a .50 caliber machinegun, mounted
on a jeep, and continued firing. When last seen alive he was standing upright
firing into the Jap hordes that were then enveloping him. Some time later
his body was found surrounded by enemy he had killed His valor was consistent
with the highest traditions of the service.
|SALOMON, Ben L. [posthumously]
Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Army, 2d Battalion,
105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division.
Place and date: Saipan, Marianas Islands, 7 July 1944.
Citation: Captain Ben L. Salomon was serving at Saipan,
in the Marianas Islands on July 7, 1944, as the Surgeon for the 2d Battalion,
105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. The Regiment's 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 Salomon's
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 Salomon's 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.