The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients

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

Staff Sergeant

United States Marine Corps

William G. Windrich


Staff Sergeant William G. Windrich
United States Marine Corps

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Platoon Sergeant of Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division(Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Yudam-ni, Korea, the night of 1 December 1950. Promptly organizing a squad of men when the enemy launched a sudden, vicious counterattack against the forward elements of his company's position, rendering it untenable, Staff Sergeant Windrich, armed with a carbine, spearheaded the assault to the top of the knoll immediately confronting the overwhelming force and, under shattering hostile automatic weapons, mortar and grenade fire, directed effective fire to hold back the attackers and cover the withdrawal of our troops to commanding ground. With seven of his men struck down during the furious action and he, himself, wounded in the head by a bursting grenade, he made his way to his company's position and, organizing a small group of volunteers, returned with them to evacuate the wounded and dying from the frozen hillside, staunchly refusing medical attention himself. Immediately redeploying the remainder of his troops, Staff Sergeant Windrich placed them on the left flank of the defensive sector before the enemy again attacked in force. Wounded in the leg during the bitter fight that followed, he bravely fought on with his men, shouting words of encouragement and directing their fire until the attack was repelled. Refusing evacuation although unable to stand, he still continued to direct his platoon in setting up defensive positions until, weakened by the bitter cold, excessive loss of blood and severe pain, he lapsed into unconsciousness and died. His valiant leadership, fortitude and courageous fighting spirit against tremendous odds served to inspire others to heroic endeavor in holding the objective and reflect the highest credit upon Staff Sergeant Windrich and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Harry S. Truman
President of the United States.


A gift from our Dad, the brown and white pony was gorgeous, large and tall for that breed.I don't think Bill wasted more than a few moments before slinging the saddle blanket and saddle on its back and tightening all of the straps, while talking to it softly. Rubbing the velvety nose with a thumb he teased the bit of the bridle between its teeth and fastened those straps too. He mounted and off they went around the vacant lot next to our house.I couldn't believe what I had seen and what I was looking at then. To my knowledge he had never saddled or ridden before. Love at first sight, boy and pony were made for each other.Through the years when Dad's job took us else where, the pony rode in the back of a large moving van, from Wisconsin to Indiana. People said it couldn't be done safely but between Bill and Dad it was done. Even the drivers were amazed; it was their first (pony) load. Maybe they too had a few good stories to tell later about that trip. Highland was the destination, with open unused fields across the road from our new home. Bill made a harness from some old leather straps, hooked it all up to a sled pulled by the pony and away we went one snowy winter day. What a thrill. He learned to ride bareback, without a bridle (only the halter) and did that movie stuff of running and mounting while the pony was running. Must say he had some hard falls and the bruises to prove it before he got that trick down pat. The pony was faster than he was.As his kid sister I tried that stuff too and had far to many bruises for my efforts. I never accomplished much except to have great times with him and the pony named Dolly.
How wonderful to have had a big brother named Bill.


Footnote: S/Sgt William Gordon Windrich was born May 14, 1921 in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Herman and Marguerite Windrich. He attended school within the Hammond, Indiana public schools until enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps 6 June 1938 . At the time of his enlistment he was only 17 years of age.
S/Sgt Windrich as a young adult, was very talented and had a interest in taxidermy, poetry, photography and painting of his own prints. He built a crystal radio, liked to do stunts on the family pony and participated in and enjoyed all sports.

During WW2, S/Sgt Windrich served with numerous Marine contingencies . He was attached to Headquarters, 5th Defense Battalion from 2 October, 1942 to 10 October, 1943 during the Japanese bombing raids on Funanfuti Atoll, Ellice Islands. He served with Headquarters, 2nd Marine Battalion, AAARTY Group, and the 5th Amphibious Corps, 2nd Marine Division from 21 November, 1943 to 1 April, 1944. This duty was during the bloody invasion of Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands and the subsequent Japanese bombings thereafter.
From 1 May , 1946 to 26 August, 1946 Sergeant Windrich participated in operation "Crossroads", the atomic bomb tests 'Able' and 'Baker' at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, while attached with the Joint Task Force One on board the USS Mt. McKinley. From November 1946 to February 1949, he was a member of the Marine garrison in China, as a military policeman, going to Peiping, Tientsin, Tsingtao and Shanghai. From September 1947 to April 1948 he was stationed on Guam. He left from Tsingtao, China on 27 January 1949 while attached to the First Marine Division, FMF, FMF West Pac for San Diego, Calif. At the onset of the war in Korea he shipped overseas as a military policeman with the First Marine Brigade. He transferred to Item Company, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division during the Wonson-Hungnam-Chosin Campaign, North Korea on 2 November 1950. S/Sgt Windrich gallantly gave his life for our country exactly one month after joining Item Company.

On Veterans Day, November 11, 1985 was proclaimed William G. Windrich Day by the cities of Hammond and East Chicago, Indiana. By direction of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, (General Paul X. Kelly) Major General C. "Dean" Sangalis was appointed as his representive and guest speaker. Also in attendance were S/SGT Windrich's daughter Alita (Bonnie), his Grandson Mark, Alita's Step-father Major John A. Goehring, USMC Ret., as were Sgt Windrich's sister Virginia and her husband Ted, as well as three who served with "Windy" in 1940. On October 29, 1994, a street and a park was named in his honor in Hammond, Indiana.

S/Sgt Windrich is survived by his daughter Alita (Bonnie) Windrich Monahan, Sister Virginia R. Windrich Swan and grandson Mark S. Monahan.

Thanks to Bonnie "Windrich" Monahan this footnote was made possible.

Staff Sergeant William G. Windrich was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for outstanding heroism as a platoon sergeant in the Korean War.

Staff Sergeant Windrich was killed in action the morning of 2 December 1950, near Yudam-ni, North Korea, following a savage night battle. He had refused to be evacuated even after being wounded twice, once when a grenade fragment ripped through his helmet. Although later felled by another wound in the leg, he was not put out of action but was still directing his men in setting up defensive positions when he succumbed to his wounds and the bitter cold.

The Medal of Honor, the Nation’s highest award for valor in combat, was presented to his widow by Secretary of the Navy Daniel A. Kimball during ceremonies on 8 February 1952 in Washington, D.C.

Born 14 May 1921 in Chicago, Illinois, William Gordon Windrich attended public schools in Hammond, Indiana. He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, 6 June 1938, and was ordered to active duty in November 1940. During World War II, he spent 20 months overseas in the South Pacific as a machine gunner and saw action on Tarawa. Discharged in November 1945, he reenlisted in the regular Marine Corps the following February.

In the summer of 1946, he participated in the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll while serving aboard the USS Mount McKinley. During the years after World War II, he also served as a non-commissioned officer of the guard in Washington, D.C., at the Naval Gun Factory and at Marine Corps Headquarters, and in China.

At the outbreak of fighting in Korea. SSgt Windrich was on military police duty at Camp Pendleton, California. He went overseas with the 1st Marine Brigade and was among the first Marines to see action in Korea. He participated in the Inchon landing and in the capture of Seoul. It was during the Chosin Reservoir campaign, as the 1st Marine Division regrouped for its famous breakout to the sea, that he met his heroic death. His body was returned to the United States for burial in Arlington National Cemetery.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, SSgt Windrich’s decorations include: the Purple Heart, two Presidential Unit Citations, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze star, the World War II Victory Medal, the China Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars, the United Nations Service Medal and two Korean Presidential Unit Citations.

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