Ernest E. West

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Ernest Edison West
Ernest E West.jpg
Medal of Honor recipient Ernest West
Born (1931-09-02) September 2, 1931 (age 87)
Russell, Kentucky, U.S.
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1950 – 1953
RankPrivate First Class
Unit3rd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division
Battles/warsKorean War
AwardsMedal of Honor
Purple Heart

Ernest Edison West (born September 2, 1931) is a former United States Army soldier and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Korean War.


West stands with two other Medal of Honor recipients shortly after receiving their medals from President Dwight D. Eisenhower. From left: Edward R. Schowalter, Jr., West, Eisenhower, and William R. Charette

West was raised in an orphanage at the Methodist Children's Home in Versailles, Kentucky. He returned to visit the home a few years after receiving the Medal of Honor.

Born on September 2, 1931, in Russell, Kentucky, West was drafted from Wurtland in 1950.[1] By October 12, 1952, he was serving in Korea as a private first class with Company L, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. After his unit was ambushed near Sataeri on that day, he ran through heavy fire to rescue his wounded commander, Capt. George Gividen. As he was pulling the man to safety, three hostile soldiers attacked. West shielded the commander with his body and killed the attackers with his rifle, suffering a wound which resulted in the loss of his eye in the process. Despite this injury, he remained on the field and assisted in the evacuation of other wounded men, at one point killing three more hostile soldiers. For these actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor just over a year later, on January 29, 1954.[2]

West currently lives in Wurtland, Kentucky.[3]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Photograph of an older white man wearing glasses and a medal hanging from a blue ribbon around his neck
West in 2009

West's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

Pfc. West distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. He voluntarily accompanied a contingent to locate and destroy a reported enemy outpost. Nearing the objective, the patrol was ambushed and suffered numerous casualties. Observing his wounded leader lying in an exposed position, Pfc. West ordered the troops to withdraw, then braved intense fire to reach and assist him. While attempting evacuation, he was attacked by 3 hostile soldiers employing grenades and small-arms fire. Quickly shifting his body to shelter the officer, he killed the assailants with his rifle, then carried the helpless man to safety. He was critically wounded and lost an eye in this action. but courageously returned through withering fire and bursting shells to assist the wounded. While evacuating 2 comrades, he closed with and killed 3 more of the foe. Pfc. West's indomitable spirit, consummate valor, and intrepid actions inspired all who observed him, reflect the highest credit on himself, and uphold the honored traditions of the military service.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Medal of Honor Recipients - Korean War". Medal of Honor Citations. United States Army Center of Military History. August 5, 2010. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
  3. ^ Elson, Martha (November 10, 2010). "Sullivan will dedicate plaza to vets". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. Archived from the original on November 10, 2010.
 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.