The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients
Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom
For conspicuous and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Machine Gunner of Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on the night of 4-5 September 1952. Volunteering for his second continuous tour of duty on a strategic combat outpost far in advance of the main line of resistance, Private First Class McLaughlin, although operating under a barrage of enemy artillery and mortar fire, set up plans for the defense of his platoon which proved decisive in the successful defense of the outpost. When hostile forces attacked in battalion strength during the night, he maintained a constant flow of devastating fire upon the enemy, alternating employing two machine guns, a carbine and hand grenades. Although painfully wounded, he bravely fired the machine guns from the hip until his hands became blistered by the heat from the weapons and, placing the guns on the ground to allow them to cool continued to defend the position with his carbine and grenades. Standing up in full view, he shouted words of encouragement to his comrades above the din of battle and, throughout a series of fanatical enemy attacks, sprayed the surrounding area with deadly fire accounting for an estimated one hundred and fifty enemy dead and fifty wounded. By his indomitable courage, superb leadership and valiant fighting spirit in the face of overwhelming odds, Private First Class McLaughlin served to inspire his fellow Marine in their gallant stand against the determined and numerically superior hostile force. His outstanding heroism and unwavering devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon himself and enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
President of the United States
Master Sergeant Alford Lee McLaughin, the 33rd Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in the Korean fighting, earned the Nation’s highest decoration for his intrepid two-machine-gun defense of a lonely outpost on “Bunker Hill.” He was decorated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on 27 October 1953 at a ceremony in the White House.
A private first class at the time, he kept firing his two machine guns alternately, notwithstanding his painful wounds and blistered hands, until the guns became too hot to hold. Then he carried on with a carbine and grenades until some 200 Chinese lay dead or wounded in front of him. In addition to the Medal of Honor, PFC McLaughlin received a Gold Star in lieu of his second Purple Heart Medal for wounds suffered in that action. He was awarded his first Purple Heart for wounds received 16 August 1952 in the same sector.
Born on 18 March 1928, in Leeds, Alabama, Alford Lee McLaughlin attended school in Leeds until 1944 and then enlisted in the Marine Corps on 3 May 1945. After completing recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, he served at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, until embarking for Guam in November 1945. From Guam he was ordered to Japan in March 1946, serving in the occupation of that country until August 1947. He then served with the 4th Marines, participating in Caribbean maneuvers from January to March 1948, and again from February to March 1949. He served in the Mediterranean from September 1948 to January 1949.
Private First Class McLaughlin was assigned to the Marine Detachment at the U.S. Naval Disciplinary Barracks, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from June 1949 until September 1951. He was next assigned to Camp Pendleton, California, for further training before leaving for Korea in February 1952. He fought in the second Korean winter, the summer-fall defense of 1952, and in the third Korean winter before he left Korea in January 1953.
He then served as a military policeman at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, until July 1953, when he was assigned as a mortar unit leader with the 4th Marine Corps Reserve Rifle Company at Rome, Georgia. He was later assigned to the 10th Marines, Camp Lejeune, and retired from the Marine Corps in 1972 as a master sergeant.
Master Sergeant McLaughlin died 14 January 1977 and was buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery, Leeds, Alabama.
In addition to the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart with Gold Star in lieu of a second award, MSgt McLaughlin held the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia and Europe clasps; the Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars; the United Nations Service Medal; and the National Defense Service Medal.
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