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Hospital corpsman disregards own life to save Marines

Richard Dewert’s gravestone at Massachusetts National Cemetery. (Courtesy photo by Gary Boughton) Richard Dewert’s gravestone at Massachusetts National Cemetery. (Courtesy photo by Gary Boughton)

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There are people who try to help, and then there are extraordinary people who selflessly give everything for someone else. Hospitalman Richard DeWert was one of the latter, and a Medal of Honor recipient.

Dewert joined the Navy in December 1948 in his hometown of Taunton, Massachusetts. The 17-year-old enlisted as a hospital corpsman, a position that can also serve alongside the Marines. So when conflict on the Korean Peninsula grew inevitable, DeWert volunteered to join the 1st Medical Battalion of the 1st Marine Division, which deployed to Korea in August 1950.

Navy Hospital Corpsman Richard Dewert. (U.S. Navy photo)Navy Hospital Corpsman Richard Dewert. (U.S. Navy photo)

Early in 1951, DeWert received orders to transfer to the 7th Marine Regiment, a unit known for epic battles, as well as for suffering more casualties than just about any other Marine unit during the Korean War. It was in battle with these men that he gave his life.

On April 5, 1951, DeWert was part of a unit that was headed to meet up with a few other friendly units near Kunchon when they came under fire.

When the first men were wounded, DeWert rushed to them. While he was dragging a seriously wounded Marine to safety, he got shot in the leg, but refused to stop until the injured man was out of the line of fire. He then went back into the fray, where he managed to drag yet another injured Marine out.

Knowing he was injured, DeWert’s comrades tried to get him medical help, but he refused. Despite their objections, he went back into the line of fire to rescue more men. As he tried to get to one injured Marine, he was shot in the shoulder. When he noticed that man was dead, he set out for another after hearing a cry for help.

While Dewert’s bravery was still going strong, his luck had run out. As he was crossing a field to help that fourth Marine, he was shot by the enemy and killed immediately. He was 19 years old.

DeWert was initially buried in a makeshift grave in Korea, but within a few months, he was reinterred at Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira, New York. About 35 years later, at his family’s request, DeWert’s grave was moved to the Massachusetts National Cemetery in 1987, where he remains.

In honor of his bravery and sacrifice, the DeWert Naval Ambulatory Care Center in Newport, Rhode Island, and the USS DeWert were named in his honor. Several other buildings in his Massachusetts hometown also bear his name.

Read more about Hospitalman Richard DeWert at our Military Medical History page.

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

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