George D. Libby

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George D. Libby
George D. Libby.JPG
George D. Libby
Born 4 December 1919
Bridgton, Maine
Died 20 July 1950 (aged 30)
Near Taejon, Korea
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service ?-1950
Rank Sergeant
Service number 31153010[1]
Unit Company C, 3rd Engineer Combat Battalion, 24th Infantry Division
Battles/wars Korean War
Awards Medal of Honor
Purple Heart

George Dalton Libby (4 December 1919 – 20 July 1950) was a soldier in the United States Army during the Korean War. He posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions on July 20, 1950.

Part of the U.S. 24th Infantry Division, sergeant Libby was attempting to withdraw from Taejon after the battle of Taejon when the truck he was riding in was disabled by North Korean fire. Libby exposed himself to North Korean fire multiple times to help wounded soldiers, before using himself as a human shield to protect the driver of another truck as they broke through the North Korean forces. Shot multiple times, Libby died from blood loss but was able to protect a truck full of wounded men until they escaped to allied lines. For this action, Libby was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Biography[edit]

George Dalton Libby was born on 4 December 1919.[1] In Bridgton, Maine. He enlisted in the United States Army in Waterbury, Connecticut.[2][3] Libby was known to have fought in World War II in the European Theatre of Operations.[4] By the time of the outbreak of the Korean War, however, Libby was a sergeant and had been assigned to C Company of the 3rd Engineer Battalion, 24th Infantry Division.[2]

Medal of honor action[edit]

On 20 July 1950, the 24th Infantry Division was attempting to withdraw from the city of Taejon, South Korea, after having been badly beaten by the North Korean People's Army in the Battle of Taejon.[5] By nightfall, the last remaining elements of the division were attempting to leave the town for Taegu. Libby was aboard a truck to the east of town attempting to evacuate when it reached a North Korean roadblock. North Koreans there ambushed the truck, disabling it and killing or wounding everyone aboard except Libby with gunfire.[6]

Libby disembarked from the damaged truck, taking cover in a ditch and returning fire on the North Koreans. During this fight, Libby twice exposed himself to North Korean fire to run across the road to assist other wounded soldiers.[6] After rendering medical aid to the wounded,[7] and pulling them out of the line of fire,[8] Libby then stopped a passing M5 Half-track which was towing a 105 mm Howitzer and loaded them onto it.[8] Libby then took a position on the outside of the truck, protecting the driver with his own body and again exposing himself to North Korean fire, as he was the only unwounded solder capable of carrying a weapon,[4]

Having the vehicle stop several times to load more wounded onto it, Libby continued to return fire at North Koreans with his M2 Carbine they encountered as they attempted to evacuate. Libby was struck several times in the body and arms by North Korean bullets as they broke through the first roadblock. At a second roadblock, Libby was struck again by North Korean gunfire.[4] Too weak to hold his weapon, Libby pulled himself to an erect position in order to be a human shield for the driver until they were out of the range of North Korean fire.[8] Libby eventually collapsed and died from blood loss, but his actions allowed the truck full of wounded men to evacuate to safety.[4]

On 2 August 1951, the Army awarded the Medal of Honor to Libby posthumously.[7] Later, on 4 July 1953, a bridge across the Imjin River in South Korea was dedicated to Libby.[9]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Libby's awards and decorations include:[1]

A light blue military ribbon with five white stars with five points each. A purple ribbon with white stripes on each end.
A blue ribbon with a gold outline.
Medal of Honor Purple Heart Medal National Defense Service Medal
Korean Service Medal United Nations Service Medal for Korea Korean War Service Medal[n 1] Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation

Medal of honor citation[edit]

Libby was one of the first two soldiers to be awarded the Medal of Honor during the Korean war, the other being 24th Infantry Division commander major general William F. Dean, who was captured in the same evacuation.[2]

Cmoh army.jpg

Sgt. Libby distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action. While breaking through an enemy encirclement, the vehicle in which he was riding approached an enemy roadblock and encountered devastating fire which disabled the truck, killing or wounding all the passengers except Sgt. Libby. Taking cover in a ditch Sgt. Libby engaged the enemy and despite the heavy fire crossed the road twice to administer aid to his wounded comrades. He then hailed a passing M-5 artillery tractor and helped the wounded aboard. The enemy directed intense small-arms fire at the driver, and Sgt. Libby, realizing that no one else could operate the vehicle, placed himself between the driver and the enemy thereby shielding him while he returned the fire. During this action he received several wounds in the arms and body. Continuing through the town the tractor made frequent stops and Sgt. Libby helped more wounded aboard. Refusing first aid, he continued to shield the driver and return the fire of the enemy when another roadblock was encountered. Sgt. Libby received additional wounds but held his position until he lost consciousness. Sgt. Libby's sustained, heroic actions enabled his comrades to reach friendly lines. His dauntless courage and gallant self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit upon himself and uphold the esteemed traditions of the U.S. Army.[10]


See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In 2000 this award was made retroactive to all US military who served in the Korean War.

Citations[edit]

Sources[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.