The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients

Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom

United States Marine Corps Reserve 

Hector Cafferata Jr


Private Hector A. Cafferata
United States Marine Corps Reserve

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Rifleman with Company F, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division(Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 28 November 1950. When all other members of his fire team became casualties, creating a gap in the lines, during the initial phase of a vicious attack launched by a fanatical enemy of regimental strength against his company's  hill position, Private Cafferata waged a lone battle with grenades and rifle fire as the attack gained momentum and the enemy threatened penetration through the gap and endangered the integrity of the entire defensive perimeter. Making a target of himself under the devastating fire from automatic weapons, rifles, grenades and mortars, he maneuvered up and down the line and delivered accurate and effective fire against the onrushing force, killing fifteen, wounding many more and forcing the others to withdraw so that reinforcements could move up and consolidate the position. Again fighting desperately against a renewed onslaught later that same morning when a hostile grenade landed in a shallow entrenchment occupied by wounded Marines, Private Cafferata rushed into the gully under heavy fire, seized the deadly missile in his right hand and hurled it free of his comrades before it detonated,  severing part of one finger and seriously wounding him in the right hand and arm. Courageously ignoring the intense pain, he staunchly fought on until he was struck by a sniper's bullet and forced to submit to evacuation for medical treatment. Stouthearted and indomitable, Private Cafferata, by his fortitude, great personal valor and dauntless perseverance in the face of almost certain death, saved the lives of several of his fellow Marines and contributed essentially to the success achieved by his company in maintaining its defensive position against tremendous odds. His extraordinary heroism throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Harry S. Truman
President of the United States

Private First Class Hector Albert Cafferata, Jr., of Montville, New Jersey, earned the Medal of Honor during the Chosin Reservoir campaign of 1950.

The Medal of Honor was presented to PFC Cafferata by President Harry S. Truman during ceremonies at the White House, 24 November 1952.

Hector Albert Cafferata, Jr. was born 4 November 1929, in New York City. He attended elementary school in Parsippany, New Jersey, and high school in Boonton, New Jersey, until 1943, when he went to work for the Sun Dial Corporation of Cauldwell, New Jersey. He played football for three years in high school and for two more years as a semi-pro. He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on 15 February 1948, and was a member of the 21st Reserve Infantry Battalion in Dover, New Jersey, until called to active duty on 6 September 1950.

After training at Camp Pendleton, California, PFC Cafferata embarked for Korea in October 1950, joining the 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. Because of the wounds he suffered during the action in which he earned the Medal of Honor, he was evacuated to Japan in December 1950, and returned to the United States the following month for treatment at the U. S. Naval Hospital, St. Albans, New York. He was placed on the retired list on 1 September 1951.

In addition to the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart, PFC Cafferata's medals include the Presidential Unit Citation, the Korean Service Medal with one bronze star, the National Defense Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation.

  Return to Main Page