Every Medal of Honor represents a story of gallantry, courage, and sacrifice. Conceived in the early 1860s, the Medal of Honor, awarded “in the name of the Congress of the United States,” has been presented to 3,467 members of the United States armed forces. Seven of the 464 Medals of Honor awarded during World War II went to Texas Aggies.
Author James R. Woodall, a 1950 graduate of Texas A&M University and a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, carried out a dedicated search of archives, family collections, and scores of other resources to gather, for the first time, the complete stories of these seven courageous men:
· Lloyd Hughes Jr., who completed his critical bombing mission at Ploesti at the cost of his own life;
· Thomas Fowler, who continuously exposed himself to enemy fire in order to reconnoiter his unit’s advance, at the same time clearing a path through a minefield, personally capturing enemy combatants, and rendering aid to wounded comrades;
· George Keathley, who crawled from foxhole to foxhole while under a vicious enemy barrage, gathering ammunition and rendering aid to the wounded and later leading his platoon in holding off an attack, even as he was bleeding to death from a mortal wound;
· Horace Carswell Jr., who took heavy fire while persisting in his bombing attack on a Japanese fleet, then sacrificed his own life by refusing to abandon his damaged aircraft in order to save as many of his crew as possible;
· Turney Leonard, who, despite being wounded and under withering fire, moved ahead of his troops to effectively direct anti-tank weaponry and reorganize confused and leaderless infantry units;
· Eli Whitely, who charged through enemy mortar and small-arms fire in a fierce house-to-house attack, personally killing nine enemy combatants and capturing twenty-three others while sustaining severe injury;
· William Harrell, who, unaided, held off an attack on his lonely command post, killing at least five enemy combatants and sustaining wounds that cost him his right hand.
Texas Aggie Medals of Honor will undoubtedly be of great interest to former students of Texas A&M University, members of the Corps of Cadets, and others associated with the university and its distinguished tradition of military training and service. But the book will also hold great appeal, in the words of one advance reader, “to those interested in the nation’s highest award for valor and the individual stories of ordinary men who did extraordinary things when confronted by life-threatening situations in combat.”