SGT John N. Holcomb*
Medal of Honor Citation
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company D, 2d Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division
Place and date: Near Quan Loi, Republic of Vietnam, 3 December 1968
Entered service at: Corvallis, Oregon
Born: 11 June 1946, Baker, Oregon
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. SGT Holcomb distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader in Company D during a combat assault mission. SGT Holcomb’s company assault had landed by helicopter and deployed into a hasty defensive position to organize for a reconnaissance-in-force mission when it was attacked from 3 sides by an estimated battalion-size enemy force. SGT Holcomb’s squad was directly in the path of the main enemy attack. With complete disregard for the heavy fire, SGT Holcomb moved among his men giving encouragement and directing fire on the assaulting enemy. When his machine gunner was knocked out, SGT Holcomb seized the weapon, ran to a forward edge of the position, and placed withering fire on the enemy. His gallant actions caused the enemy to withdraw. SGT Holcomb treated and carried his wounded to a position of safety and reorganized his defensive sector despite a raging grass fire ignited by the incoming enemy mortar and rocket rounds. When the enemy assaulted the position a second time, SGT Holcomb again manned the forward machine gun, devastating the enemy attack and forcing the enemy to again break contact and withdraw. During the enemy withdrawal an enemy rocket hit SGT Holcomb’s position, destroying his machine gun and severely wounding him. Despite his painful wounds, SGT Holcomb crawled through the grass fire and exploding mortar and rocket rounds to move the members of his squad, everyone of whom had been wounded, to more secure positions. Although grievously wounded and sustained solely by his indomitable will and courage, SGT Holcomb as the last surviving leader of his platoon organized his men to repel the enemy, crawled to the platoon radio and reported the third enemy assault on his position. His report brought friendly supporting fires on the charging enemy and broke the enemy attack. SGT Holcomb’s inspiring leadership, fighting spirit, in action at the cost of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
SGT John Noble Holcomb’s Medal of Honor was presented to his Family at the White House by President Nixon on 16 February 1971. He is buried at the Eagle Valley Cemetery, Richland, Oregon.
The Medal of Honor
Description: A gold five pointed star, each point tipped with trefoils, 1½ inches wide, surrounded by a green laurel wreath and suspended from a gold bar inscribed “VALOR”, surmounted by an eagle. In the center of the star, Minerva’s head surrounded by the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” On each ray of the star is a green oak leaf. On the reverse is a bar engraved “THE CONGRESS TO” with a space for engraving the name of the recipient.
Congressional Medal of Honor Society web page: https://www.cmohs.org/
History of the Medal of Honor: https://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/history.html
Medal of Honor – The History (A Vimeo Video Documentary Rivr Digital): https://vimeo.com/100896594