John E. Kilmer

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John Edward Kilmer
John E Kilmer.jpg
John E. Kilmer
Nickname(s) Jackie
Born (1930-08-15)August 15, 1930
Highland Park, Illinois
Died August 13, 1952(1952-08-13) (aged 21)
Killed in action in Korea
Place of burial San Jose Burial Park, San Antonio, Texas
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of the Navy.svg United States Navy
Years of service 1947 - 1952
Rank Hospitalman
Unit H Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division
Battles/wars Korean War
Awards Medal of Honor
Purple Heart Medal (2)

John Edward Kilmer (August 15, 1930 – August 13, 1952) was a United States Navy hospitalman who was killed in action while attached as a navy corpsman to a Marine Corps rifle company in the Korean War. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism above and beyond the call of duty on August 13, 1952.


Kilmer was born in Highland Park, Illinois. He quit high school at seventeen to enlist in the U.S. Navy on August 16, 1947 from Houston, Texas. He enlisted as an Apprentice Seaman, and after his recruit training, he attended Hospital Corps School, San Diego, California. After graduation in April 1948, he advanced in rate (rank) to hospital apprentice, and then hospitalman on September 1, 1950.[1]

Kilmer was assigned to the hospital ship USS Repose (AH-16) when the Korean War began in June 1950. His 4-year enlistment term expired in August 1951, but he decided to reenlist the Navy. In April 1952, after running afoul of a superior, Kilmer chose to volunteer to serve in the Fleet Marine Force (FMF). After completing instruction for combat field training in June at the Field Medical Service School at Camp Pendleton, California, he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division.[1]

In Korea, Kilmer was a member of H Company, 3rd Battalion, 7 Marines. On August 12-13, he took part in the attack on "Bunker Hill" in Korea.[2] He attended to the wounded during the battle and was wounded, then was mortally wounded after using his body a wounded Marine from enemy fire. For his actions on August 13, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.[1]

On June 18, 1953, Hospitalman Kilmer's mother, Lois Kilmer, was presented with her son's Medal of Honor by Secretary of the Navy Robert Bernard Anderson.[3][1]

Kilmer is buried in San Jose Burial Park, San Antonio, Texas.[4]

Kilmer's military decorations and awards include: The Medal of Honor, Purple Heart Medal with one 516" gold star, Navy Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with Fleet Marine Force Combat Operations Insignia and one 316" bronze service star, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, United Nations Service Medal, and Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Hospitalman Kilmer's official citation reads:

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to


for service as set forth in the following


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against enemy aggressor forces. With his company engaged in defending a vitally important hill position well forward of the main line of resistance during an assault by large concentrations of hostile troops, HM Kilmer repeatedly braved intense enemy mortar, artillery, and sniper fire to move from 1 position to another, administering aid to the wounded and expediting their evacuation. Painfully wounded himself when struck by mortar fragments while moving to the aid of a casualty, he persisted in his efforts and inched his way to the side of the stricken marine through a hail of enemy shells falling around him. Undaunted by the devastating hostile fire, he skillfully administered first aid to his comrade and, as another mounting barrage of enemy fire shattered the immediate area, unhesitatingly shielded the wounded man with his body. Mortally wounded by flying shrapnel while carrying out this heroic action, HM Kilmer, by his great personal valor and gallant spirit of self-sacrifice in saving the life of a comrade, served to inspire all who observed him. His unyielding devotion to duty in the face of heavy odds reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for another.[5]

Harry S. Truman

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "John Edward Kilmer - Medal of Honor recipient". The Hall of Honor. National Naval Medical Center. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  2. ^ Marine Corps History Division's%20Who/J-L/Kilmer_JE.aspx
  3. ^ Marine Corps Histpry Division's%20Who/J-L/Kilmer_JE.aspx
  4. ^ "John E. Kilmer". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  5. ^ "Korean War Medal of Honor recipients". Medal of Honor citations. United States Army Center of Military History. 2005-09-26. Retrieved 2006-10-02.