The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients
Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom
For conspicuous gallantry and inrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Gunner in a Machine-Gun Platoon of Company E, Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces near Panmunjom, Korea, on 16 April 1952. When an enemy grenade landed close to his position while he and his assistant gunner were receiving medical attention for their wounds during a fierce night attack by numerically superior hostile forces, Corporal Dewey, although suffering intense pain, immediately pulled the corpsman to the ground and, shouting a warning to the other Marines around him, bravely smothered the deadly missile with his body, personally absorbing the full force of the explosion to save his comrades from possible injury or death. His indomitable courage, outstanding initiative and valiant efforts in behalf of others in the face of almost certain death reflect the highest credit upon Corporal Dewey and enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Corporal Duane Edgar Dewey, of South Haven and Muskegon, Michigan, the first person to receive the Medal of Honor from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, earned the Nation’s highest award for heroism on 16 April 1952, when, although already wounded, he smothered an exploding enemy grenade with his own body to save the lives of his comrades.
Corporal Dewey earned the Medal of Honor near Panmunjom, Korea, while serving as leader of a machine-gun squad with Company E, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He had been wounded, and was being treated by a Navy medical corpsman when an enemy grenade landed at the squad’s position. Yanking the corpsman to the ground, and warning members of the squad, Cpl Dewey flung himself on the grenade shouting, “Doc, I got it in my hip pocket!”
Suffering critical injuries, he was evacuated to Japan, and later the United States for treatment and was released from active duty on 19 August 1952. After presenting the award on 12 March 1953 at the White House, President Eisenhower told him, “You must have a body of steel.”
Duane Edgar Dewey was born 16 November 1931 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and attended school in Muskegon until 1947. He then worked for six months on a farm in South Haven, and for a year as a foundry worker at National Motors, Inc., in South Haven.
Enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserve on 7 March 1951, he completed recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, and underwent intensive combat training at Camp Pendleton, California, until embarking for Korea in September 1951. Before he was wounded he had participated in the United Nations summer-fall offensive of 1951 and the second winter of Korean fighting.
After treatment of his wounds at the front he was evacuated to the U.S. Naval Hospital, Yokosuka, Japan, then to the U.S. Naval Hospitals at Mare Island, California, and Great Lakes, Illinois. Following his recuperation at Great Lakes, he was released from active duty on 19 August 1952.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Cpl Dewey's awards include the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal with two battle stars, and the United Nations Service Medal.