Monday, May 26, 2008

Shines the name, shines the name

There seem to be few songs that celebrate individual or small groups of real soldiers or sailors. There is of course "The Sinking of the Reuben James", there is also the "Ballad of Ira Hayes", but that is really something different. And then there is the "Ballad of Roger Young", Roger Young and the Ballad are familiar to ever reader of Heinlein, of course, but he like so many heroes have otherwise slowly fallen into anonymity.

From his Medal of Honor citation (courtesy of Wikipedia)

On July 31, 1943, the infantry company of which Pvt. Young was a member, was ordered to make a limited withdrawal from the battle line in order to adjust the battalion's position for the night. At this time, Pvt. Young's platoon was engaged with the enemy in a dense jungle where observation was very limited. The platoon suddenly was pinned down by intense fire from a Japanese machine gun concealed on higher ground only 75 yards (69 m) away. The initial burst wounded Pvt. Young. As the platoon started to obey the order to withdraw, Pvt. Young called out that he could see the enemy emplacement, whereupon he started creeping toward it. Another burst from the machine gun wounded him the second time. Despite the wounds, he continued his heroic advance, attracting enemy fire and answering with rifle fire. When he was close enough to his objective, he began throwing hand grenades, and while doing so was hit again and killed. Pvt. Young's bold action in closing with this Japanese pillbox and thus diverting its fire, permitted his platoon to disengage itself, without loss, and was responsible for several enemy casualties.

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