Ben Salomon and the Medal of Honor 901 Club Junior Member WeAreSc Member Joined: Aug 24, 2017 Messages: 10,155 Likes Received: 16,693 May 24, 2014 #1 Here's a story I've posted for Memorial Day. The story of a two-time grad and all time American hero, and the long road to the Medal of Honor he richly deserved. +++++++++++++++++++++ Ben Salomon and the Medal of Honor The fighting was fierce throughout 7 July 1944 on the northern end of the island of Saipan. Desperate, cornered Japanese soldiers hurled themselves at American positions. On the hills overlooking the coastal plain and the village of Tanapag, soldiers of the 27th Infantry Division repelled several banzai attacks. Their position was strong, and gradually as the day wore on the Japanese assaults weakened. The story was different on the beach below. Occasionally looking down, they saw that their fellow soldiers in the 1st and 2d Battalions of the 105th Infantry Regiment were in a much more precarious position. The initial enemy attacks coming out of the night had struck full force at the battalions' initial positions next to the ocean. Despite furious resistance, the survivors were eventually pushed back to the village of Tanapag where they continued to fight. The soldiers on the hills above readily recognized the bravery of their comrades below, but they could not foresee that out of this action would come a Distinguished Unit Citation, two Medals of Honor, and a fifty-seven year struggle for another Medal of Honor for an Army dentist. In combat, the courage and fearlessness shown by some soldiers is frequently astounding and inexplicable. Such a fighter was Captain Ben Salomon, the Army dentist killed in battle defending his aid station on 7 July 1944. Almost as amazing as Ben Salomon's exploits is the story of how his heroism was finally recognized by the award of the nation's highest medal for valor. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on 1 September 1914, Ben Salomon grew up in the city, graduated from Shorewood High School, and attended Marquette University before moving to Los Angeles, California, to finish his undergraduate education at the University of Southern California. He then went on to graduate from the University of Southern California Dental College in 1937, and began practicing dentistry. As with most young men in the United States on the eve of World War II, Ben's civilian plans quickly took second place to the military needs of the country. He was smart, good-looking, and popular, with a bright future in front of him. Soon after the National Selective Service Act became effective in the fall of 1940, Ben's draft board ordered him to report for induction into the Army. Dr. Ben Salomon became an infantry private. After basic training Ben joined the 102d Infantry Regiment and quickly proved to be a natural soldier and leader. He won awards as an expert rifle and pistol marksman, and his commanding officer stated that he was "the best all-around soldier" in the regiment. Within a year he had risen to the rank of sergeant and was in charge of a machine gun section. In 1942 Salomon received notification that he was to become an officer in the Dental Corps. At first Ben attempted to remain in the infantry, and his commanding officer requested that he be commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry. The request was denied, and Salomon reported to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, where he was commissioned a first lieutenant on 14 August 1942. After several months of work in a hospital, Lieutenant Salomon was assigned in May 1943 as the regimental dental officer of the 105th Infantry Regiment, part of the 27th Infantry Division. Characteristically, Ben jumped into his new duties with enthusiasm and skill. Despite not having practiced dentistry for two years, Lieutenant Salomon was quickly recognized as an excellent dentist by his patients and his fellow dentists. He developed a routine of handling dental appointments in the morning and joining his regiment in the field for training in the afternoon. Ben was not just a staff observer, but also an active participant in all activities from hot, dusty hikes and range firing to crawling through the mud of the obstacle courses. He won all of the regimental competitions. Later, his regimental commander described the uniqueness of his dental officer: Ben Salomon was the best instructor in infantry tactics we ever had. He gave everybody who ever met him a real lift. He had a way of inspiring people to do things that they might not have done otherwise. I think it was because he himself was the most vital man most of us ever met. Troianus Acies and CrownoftheValley like this.