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Hospitalman Third Class John Kilmer

Date of Award: June 18, 1953
Conflict: Korean War
Branch: U.S. Navy

Hospitalman Third Class John Kilmer portraitOn August 12, 1952, Hospitalman Third Class John Kilmer took part in the attack on “Bunker Hill” in Korea. At first there were not many casualties because the Chinese were surprised. Expecting a counterattack, the Marines had dug themselves in earlier that day, hoping that enemy artillery and mortar shells would not hit them. But, just after midnight, the real fight began. Kilmer soon heard the first Marine’s cry for medical help. He went to work quickly, repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire to reach wounded Marines.

He carried many away to safety before spotting a seriously wounded Marine lying in the open field. When Kilmer started crawling towards him, a sergeant tried to stop him, shouting that he could not go out there because he would certainly die. But Kilmer was too stubborn to be stopped. Wounded by mortar fragments when he was only halfway there, Kilmer kept crawling until he reached the wounded man. Then, as the enemy attack intensified and a heavy barrage of fire shattered the ground around him, Kilmer shielded his patient, saving the man’s life and sacrificing his own.

Citation: “Undaunted by the devastating hostile fire, he skillfully administered first aid to his comrade and, as another mounting barrage of enemy f ire shattered the immediate area, unhesitatingly shielded the wounded man with his body.”

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