William R. Jecelin
|William R. Jecelin|
Medal of Honor recipient
May 26, 1930|
|Died||September 19, 1950
Near Saga, Korea
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||-1950|
|Unit||Company C, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division|
William R. Jecelin (May 6, 1930 – September 19, 1950) was a soldier in the United States Army who posthumously received the United States military's highest decoration for bravery, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Korean War. He was born and joined the Army from Baltimore, Maryland and was sent as a Sergeant to fight in the Korean War. While there he was fighting with Company C, 35th Infantry Regiment when a grenade was thrown at them Jecelin sacrificed himself to save the other soldiers in his unit. He covered the grenade with his body and was killed. His body was returned to the US and buried in his hometown of Baltimore.
Jecelin was born May 6, 1930 in Baltimore, Maryland and joined the United States Army from that location. After attending training he was sent to fight in Korea as a Sergeant in Company C, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division.
On September 19, 1950 his company was ordered to secure a ridge that was occupied by Korean forces they attacked as ordered but the first attempt to take the hill failed. They tried a second time and this time Jecelin led his platoon through heavy enemy fire advancing to the base of the cliff where the attack was stopped again due to enemy fire. He determined that a direct assault was the only way to gain control of the hill so he began firing his rifle and throwing grenades at the enemy position, calling to his men to follow him. The American troops were able to make it to the crest of the hill before being forced to take cover from enemy fire, before attempting another assault. They attached bayonets for hand-to-hand combat and were able to defeat a portion of the enemy before being forced to take cover after receiving fire from another group of enemy forces in the area. When they began attacking this new group, one of the enemy soldiers threw a grenade at the incoming Americans and Sergeant Jecelin dived on the grenade, smothering the blast with his body, saving the lives of the other American soldiers but was killed in the blast. For this action he posthumously received the United States military's highest decoration for bravery, the Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor citation
Sgt. Jecelin, Company C, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and Intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. His company was ordered to secure a prominent, sawtoothed ridge from a well-entrenched and heavily armed enemy. Unable to capture the objective in the first attempt, a frontal and flanking assault was launched. He led his platoon through heavy enemy fire and bursting shells, across rice fields and rocky terrain, in direct frontal attack on the ridge in order to draw fire away from the flanks. The unit advanced to the base of the cliff, where intense, accurate hostile fire stopped the attack. Realizing that an assault was the only solution, Sgt. Jecelin rose from his position firing his rifle and throwing grenades as he called on his men to follow him. Despite the intense enemy fire this attack carried to the crest of the ridge where the men were forced to take cover. Again he rallied his men and stormed the enemy strong point. With fixed bayonets they charged into the face of antitank fire and engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. After clubbing and slashing this force into submission the platoon was forced to take cover from direct frontal fire of a self-propelled gun. Refusing to be stopped he leaped to his feet and through sheer personal courage and fierce determination led his men in a new attack. At this instant a well-camouflaged enemy soldier threw a grenade at the remaining members of the platoon. He immediately lunged and covered the grenade with his body, absorbing the full force of the explosion to save those around him. This incredible courage and willingness to sacrifice himself for his comrades so imbued them with fury that they completely eliminated the enemy force. Sgt. Jecelin's heroic leadership and outstanding gallantry reflect the highest credit upon himself and uphold the esteemed traditions of the military service.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.