Utah Medal of Honor Dis­play

Serve Daily - - COMMUNITY - Ed Helmick­for Serve Dai­lyPAYSON

— Eight in­di­vid­u­als from the State of Utah have re­ceived the Con­gres- sional Medal of Honor. This is the high­est US mil­i­tary dec­o­ra­tion, awarded by Con- gress to a mem­ber of the armed forces for gal­lantry and brav­ery in com­bat at the risk of life above and be­yond the call of duty. A dis­play hon­or­ing those men is along one side of the main hall­way at Payson’s Mervin Sharp Ben­nion Cen­tral Utah Vet- er­ans Home. The fa­cil­ity is named af­ter Marvin Ben­nion for his valor dur­ing the Ja­panese at­tack on Pearl Har­bor.

Marvin Ben­nion re­ceived the Medal of Honor posthu­mously af­ter be­ing mor­tal- ly wounded and re­main­ing in com­mand of his ship while show­ing com­plete dis- re­gard for his own life. He was born in Ver­non, Utah May 5, 1887, and grad­uat- ed third in his 1910 Class at the United States Naval Academy. He died De­cem- ber 7, 1941, at the age of 54.

Ed­ward S. Michael was a first lieu- ten­ant pi­lot­ing a B-17 April 11, 1944, that was so badly shot up that he or­dered the crew to bail out. He him­self was bad- ly wounded and bleeding from a can­non shell that blew up in the cock­pit. Find- ing that one of the crew­man’s para­chute was so badly shot up that it was unus- able he con­tin­ued to fly the air­plane to English soil with barely enough strength from loss of blood to con­trol the land­ing. He was awarded the Medal of Honor 9 months later, on Jan­uary 15, 1945. He trans­ferred to the Air Force and re­tired with the rank of Lieu­tenant Colonel in 1971. He is buried at the Ev­er­green Cem- etery in Springville, Utah.

Bernard Fisher grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Utah in 1949 and joined the US Air Force in 1951. At the age of 38, he vol­un­teered for duty in Viet­nam. From July 1965 to June 1966 he flew 200 com- bat mis­sions in the A-1E/H Skyraider. On March 10, 1966, he made a brave and dar­ing res­cue of a pilot who crash-landed on an airstrip that was be­ing over­run by the en­emy. Against the odds, the res­cue was suc­cess­ful de­spite 19 bul­let holes in Medal his air­plane. of Honor Fisher by Pres­i­dent was awarded Lyn­don the B. John­son. On Jan­uary 19, 1967,

Ge­orge Wahlen of Og­den, Utah started work­ing as an air­craft me­chanic train- ee at 17 and then en­listed in the United States Navy a few months later on June 11, 1943. The Navy as­signed him to be a hospital corps­man. He landed on Iwa Jima with a Ma­rine Unit on Fe­bru­ary 19, 1945, and was se­ri­ously wounded by an en­emy fused to grenade be evac­u­ated on Fe­bru­ary and con­tin­ued 26. He re- to aid wounded Marines on the bat­tle­field. On March 2, he was wounded in the back and again con­tin­ued to aid more Marines un­til he was shot in the leg on March 3. Un­able to walk, he crawled 50 yards to help an­other Ma­rine be­fore he was fi­nal- ly evac­u­ated. The Medal of Honor was pre­sented by Harry S. Tru­man out­side the White House on Oc­to­ber 5, 1945. Af- ter re­cov­er­ing from his wounds, Ge­orge Wahlen en­listed in the United States Army in 1948 to serve as a med­i­cal tech- nician and ser­viced in the Korean War and the Viet­nam War. He re­tired from the Army in 1968, with the rank of Ma­jor af- ter be­ing wounded again and awarded a Pur­ple Heart. Wil­liam Hall born in Sto­ries (Spring Canyon), Utah, he en­listed in the U.S. Navy in 1938 and be­came a pilot fly­ing the SBD Daunt­less Dive Bomber dur­ing the Bat­tle of the Co­ral Sea. On May 7 and 8, 1942, his skill­ful dive bomb­ing sub­stan­tially dam­aged the Ja­panese air- craft car­rier Shoho and the next day he shot down three en­emy air­planes de­spite be­ing over­whelm­ingly out­num­bered. He man­aged to re­turn to his air­craft car­rier with se­ri­ous wounds. Peter Tomich and his cousin John Ton- ic were born in what is now Bos­nia and caught a ship to the United States when they were 20 years old. When World War I broke out they en­listed in the U.S. Army. They did not see com­bat, but served with pride and be­came U.S. Ci­ti­zens. Af­ter 18 months, their Army en­list­ment ex­pired and Peter joined the U.S. Navy. Other than his cousin who stayed in New York, Peter had no fam­ily other than his Navy sailor friends. Peter was on the USS Utah when it fell vic­tim to the Ja­panese raid on Pearl Har­bor on De­cem­ber 7, 1941. At the ex- pense of his own life, he saved many lives on the USS Utah. Three months af­ter the Pearl Har­bor bomb­ing Pres­i­dent Roos- evelt au­tho­rized award­ing the Medal of Honor to Peter Tomich. How­ever, there was no next of kin to ac­cept the award. In 1947 Utah Gover­nor Her­bert B. Maw pro­claimed Peter Tomich an Hon­orary Ci­ti­zen of Utah and the State of Utah the Guardian­ship of his Medal Honor.

Jose Valdez at the out­break of World War II joined the U.S. Army in Pleas- ant Grove, Utah. He fought with the 3rd In­fantry Di­vi­sion from North Africa through Si­cily, Italy, France, and Ger- many. On Jan­uary 25, 1945, Jose was on pa­trol near Rosenkranz, France with five fel­low sol­diers when a Ger­man tank was headed to­ward them. He

Photo: Ed Helmick

The Medal of Honor Wall.

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