Historical records matching Lt. Samuel Woodfill, Medal of Honor
About Lt. Samuel Woodfill, Medal of Honor
Samuel Woodfill (January 6, 1883-August 10, 1951) was a Major in the United States Army. He was a veteran of the Philippine–American War, World War I, and World War II. Woodfill was one of the most celebrated American soldiers of the early 20th century. General John Pershing called Woodfill the most outstanding soldier in World War I. During an offensive in October 1918, he single handedly took out three German machine gun emplacements while suffering under the effect of mustard gas, and was able to successfully lead his men safely back to the American lines without casualties. At the end of the conflict, Woodfill was the most decorated American soldier to have participated in the conflict; he received the Medal of Honor, the Croix de Guerre with palm leaves, the Meriot di Guerra, and the Cross of Prince Danilo among other awards.
After returning home at the end of the war, Woodfill took a number of different jobs before starting a career as an insurance salesman. He was among the three soldiers chosen to dedicate the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in 1921, joining fellow Medal of Honor recipients Charles Whittlesey and Alvin York. At the outbreak of World War II, he was commissioned as a major and spent two years training recruits before resigning from the army after the death of his wife in 1943. Woodfill retired to a farm near the place of his birth where he lived until his death. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant (Infantry) Samuel Woodfill, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 12 October 1918, while serving with Company M, 60th Infantry, 5th Division, in action at Cunel, France. While he was leading his company against the enemy, First Lieutenant Woodfill's line came under heavy machinegun fire, which threatened to hold up the advance. Followed by two soldiers at 25 yards, this officer went out ahead of his first line toward a machinegun nest and worked his way around its flank, leaving the two soldiers in front. When he got within ten yards of the gun it ceased firing, and four of the enemy appeared, three of whom were shot by First Lieutenant Woodfill. The fourth, an officer, rushed at First Lieutenant Woodfill, who attempted to club the officer with his rifle. After a hand-to-hand struggle, First Lieutenant Woodfill killed the officer with his pistol.
His company thereupon continued to advance, until shortly afterwards another machinegun nest was encountered. Calling on his men to follow, First Lieutenant Woodfill rushed ahead of his line in the face of heavy fire from the nest, and when several of the enemy appeared above the nest he shot them, capturing three other members of the crew and silencing the gun. A few minutes later this officer for the third time demonstrated conspicuous daring by charging another machinegun position, killing five men in one machinegun pit with his rifle. He then drew his revolver and started to jump into the pit, when two other gunners only a few yards away turned their gun on him. Failing to kill them with his revolver, he grabbed a pick lying nearby and killed both of them. Inspired by the exceptional courage displayed by this officer, his men pressed on to their objective under severe shell and machinegun fire.
General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 16 ( January 22, 1919)
Action Date: 12-Oct-18
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Company M
Regiment: 60th Infantry Regiment
Division: 5th Division