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Above and Beyond the Call of Duty: Herbert Littleton

In 1930, Herbert Littleton was born in Mena, Arkansas to Paul N. and Lillie Maude Littleton. While he was still a small boy, Littleton moved with his family to South Dakota for work. It is here that he remained for the rest of his early life except for one short stint in Washington. After graduating from high-school, Littleton enlisted in the United States Marine Corps for a one-year tour. However, once the Korean War began, he chose to once again enlist in the Corps to serve his country.

Littleton was in the First Marine Division, Seventh Marines, First Battalion, Company C as a Private First Class. He soon packed off to the war being stationed at Chungchon, Korea. It was here on April 22, 1951 that Littleton faced a night raid by Communist forces. Despite the initial confusion, Littleton sprang into immediate action joining his observation team to call artillery strikes on Communist positions. As the night wore on, the fighting grew worse, and eventually, an enemy soldier threw a hand grenade into Littleton’s group attempting to finish them. Herbert Littleton saw the grenade, and threw himself onto it giving his life for his unit. He died a hero. For his selfless action at Chungchon, Korea, Herbert Littleton was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. His citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a radio operator with an artillery forward observation team of Company C, in action against enemy aggressor forces. Standing watch when a well-concealed and numerically superior enemy force launched a violent night attack from nearby positions against his company, Pfc. Littleton quickly alerted the forward observation team and immediately moved into an advantageous position to assist in calling down artillery fire on the hostile force. When an enemy hand grenade was thrown into his vantage point shortly after the arrival of the remainder of the team, he unhesitatingly hurled himself on the deadly missile, absorbing its full, shattering impact in his body. By his prompt action and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice, he saved the other members of his team from serious injury or death and enabled them to carry on the vital mission which culminated in the repulse of the hostile attack. His indomitable valor in the face of almost certain death reflects the highest credit upon Pfc. Littleton and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

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