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The Guard during World War II: Medal of Honor Recipient



A medical aid Washington National Guardsman made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II, but not before pulling to safety many of his fellow soldiers and saving the lives of dozens of others. For his sacrifice, Technician Fourth Grade Laverne Parrish was honored with the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman for Parrish’s actions 72 years ago today on Jan. 24, 1945.

Since its inception in 1861 there have been only 3,515 Medals of Honor awarded to the nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen.

Presented by the president of the United States, and is known as America's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor is given to those that display personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty.

It was those personal acts of valor and heroism that were displayed by Technician Fourth Grade Laverne Parrish on Jan. 24, 1945 that made him one of those service members that deserve the highest level of gratitude from the American people.

Parrish joined the U.S. Army in March 1941 in Ronan, Montana, and by Jan. 18, 1945 was serving as a technician fourth grade in the medical detachment of the 161st Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. 

A medical aid man with Company C, Parrish was deep into the Pacific theater, fighting the Axis forces in Binalonan, Luzon, Philippine Islands. On Jan. 18, 1945, Parrish observed two wounded men under enemy fire and immediately went to their rescue. After moving a wounded man to cover, he crossed 25 yards of open ground to administer aid to the second.

His actions that day wouldn’t be the last time he placed himself in danger to save others.

In the early hours on Jan. 24, his company, crossing an open field near San Manuel, encountered intense enemy fire and was ordered to withdraw to the cover of a ditch.

Many of his fellow guardsmen were injured and the medic took action, treating those in the ditch. It was at that time he observed two of his fellow soldiers in the open field injured and held down by gun fire. Without hesitation, he left the safety of the ditch, crawled forward under enemy fire and in two successive trips brought both men to safety.

During those trips, he noticed more injured soldiers who required aid. He crawled back into the same field, crossing and re-crossing the open area raked by hostile fire 12 more times to administer aid and bring many to the safety of the ditch. In total, he treated 37 casualties suffered by his company that day.

During those trips, Parrish was mortally wounded by mortar fire.

The indomitable spirit, intrepidity and gallantry of Technician Laverne Parrish saved many lives at the cost of his own that day.

He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor six months later, on July 13, 1945. Parrish, age 26 at the time of his death, was buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Ronan, Montana.