Pfc. Charles George, Medal of Honor recipient, is honored by Korean War Veterans Assoc.
Text by Scott McKie B.P. and photos by Dawn Arneach
One Feather staff
On the night of Nov. 30, 1952 near Songnae-dong, Korea, a young Cherokee man saved two of his fellow comrades and performed an act of courage and bravery that cannot properly be put into words. Pfc. Charles George, a great Cherokee and American patriot, received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his act that night and forever etched his memory into the collective soul of the Cherokee Nation and the United States of America.
Pfc. George was honored by the Korean War Veterans Association (KWVA) Chapter 265 in a ceremony held at the Yellowhill Veterans Cemetery on Saturday, Oct. 24.
“Today is a day of remembrance,” said Lew Harding, Steve Youngdeer American Legion Post 143 Commander. “We honor a brother that has made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Commander Harding told the crowd that the museum area of the future Cherokee Veterans Center will be known as the Charles George Museum.
“Freedom is a blessing,” said Commander Harding. “Peace is a dividend for which he fought and died and for which we will always remember.”
Several members of the George family were on hand for Saturday’s honoring including his niece Patty Buchanan who wrote a letter describing her feelings on her uncle.
“His heroic acts will always be passed from generation to generation,” she wrote. “My grandfather would show the Medal to anybody who came to our house and asked to see it. It was beautiful, and if you wanted to hold it, you could. My Uncle Charles probably was looking down and smiling when his mother and father would do that.”
Buchanan related in her letter that her grandparents went to Washington, DC to receive Pfc. George’s Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman.
“They were proud, but I’m sure, like any other parent would have preferred to have their son back alive, Buchanan wrote.
SFC Warren Dupree, a U.S. Army veteran, said, “Freedom is a gift from God that commands the highest price.”
He read “What is a Veteran?” as a tribute to Pfc. George and other U.S. heroes. SFC Dupree commented, “The Stars and Stripes will live forever as a nation built on truth, faith, and love.”
Following SFC Dupree, Col. Bill J. Reid, U.S. Air Force veteran and member of KWVA – Chapter 265, read Pfc. George’s Medal of Honor citation. Then, members of the Steve Youngdeer American Legion Post 143 Color Guard folded a flag to present to the George family.
Then, members of the George family, along with Capt. Don Putnam, U.S. Air Force veteran and member of KWVA, laid a wreath on the grave of Pfc. George.
Medal of Honor Citation
Rank and Organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. Place and Date: Near Songnae-dong, Korea, 30 November 1952. Entered Service at: Whittier, NC. Born: 23 August 1932, Cherokee, NC, G.O. NO: 19, 18 March, 1954.
Pfc. George, a member of Company C, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy on the night of 30 November 1952. He was a member of a raiding party committed to engage the enemy and capture a prisoner for interrogation. Forging up the rugged slope of the key terrain feature, the group was subjected to intense mortar and machine gun fire and suffered several casualties. Throughout the advance, he fought valiantly and, upon reaching the crest of the hill, leaped into the trenches and closed with the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. When friendly troops were ordered to move back upon completion of the assignment, he and 2 comrades remained to cover the withdrawal. While in the process of leaving the trenches a hostile soldier hurled a grenade into their midst. Pfc. George shouted a warning to 1 comrade, pushed the other soldier out of danger, and, with full knowledge of the consequences, unhesitatingly threw himself upon the grenade, absorbing the full blast of the explosion. Although seriously wounded in this display of valor, he refrained from any outcry which would divulge the position of his companions. The 2 soldiers evacuated him to the forward aid station and shortly thereafter he succumbed to his wound. Pfc. George’s indomitable courage, consummate devotion to duty, and willing self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit upon himself and uphold the finest traditions of the military service.
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