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 intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Fire Team Leader of Company A, First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 28 May 1952. Advancing with his platoon in the initial assault of the company against a strongly fortified and heavily defended hill position, Corporal Champagne skillfully led his fire team through a veritable hail of intense enemy machine-gun, small-arms and grenade fire, overrunning trenches and a series of almost inpregnable bunker positions before reaching the crest of the hill and placing his men in defensive positions. Suffering a painful leg wound while assisting in repelling the ensuing hostile counterattack, which was launched under cover of a murderous hail of mortar and artillery fire, he steadfastly refused evacuation and fearlessly continued to control his fire team. When the enemy counterattack increased in intensity, and a hostile grenade landed in the midst of the fire team, Corporal Champagne unhesitatingly seized the deadly missile and hurled it in the direction of the apporaching enemy. As the grenade left his hand, it exploded, blowing off his hand and throwing him out of the trench. Mortally wounded by enemy mortar fire while in this exposed position, Corporal Champagne, by his valiant leadership, fortitude and gallant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death, undoubtedly saved the lives of several of his fellow Marines. His heroic actions served to inspire all who observed him and reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
President of the United States
The Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously to Cpl David B. Champagne, of Wakefield, Rhode Island, for heroism in action against enemy forces in Korea. He was the 29th Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during the Korean conflict.
Born 13 November 1932, David Bernard Champagne attended public schools in Wakefield and worked at the local Community Theatre prior to enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps on 7 March 1951 in Boston, Massachusetts. He received recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, and then was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California. After being transferred to the 1st Marine Division in Korea, he participated in three campaigns before being mortally wounded.
On 28 May 1952, Cpl Champagne, a fire team leader, advanced with his platoon in the initial assault on a strongly fortified and heavily defended enemy hill position. He successfully led his team through enemy grenade, small-arms, and machinegun fire to the crest of the hill. Although wounded in the encounter, he refused evacuation.
The enemy counterattack increased and a grenade landed in the midst of Cpl Champagne's team. Without hesitation, he seized the grenade and threw it at the enemy. It exploded as it left his hand and hurled him out of the trench. While thus exposed to enemy mortar fire, he was mortally wounded.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Cpl Champagne was awarded posthumously the Purple Heart Medal. He also held the Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars, and the United Nations Service Medal.
Corporal Champagne's Medal of Honor was presented to his 15-year-old brother by General R.H. Ridgely, Jr., during presentation ceremonies held at the Old Mountain Baseball Field in Wakefield, in July 1953.
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