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Medal of Honor Monday: Army Cpl. Robert H. Young

Army Cpl. Robert Harley Young was only 22 when he lost his life in Korea, but he did so courageously while trying to save the other members of his unit from complete annihilation. His valor and selflessness earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor.

Young was born on March 4, 1929, in Oroville, California, to parents Melvin and Dorothy Young. When he was still a child, Young’s family moved him and his siblings to Chico and then Vallejo, California.

According to a June 2000 article in the Sacramento Bee, Young’s relatives described him as “military crazy,” and said he grew a mustache and lied about his age so he could join the Army in 1946. They said he spent part of his first tour of duty guarding famed Army Gen. George C. Marshall during a trip to Moscow.

Young re-enlisted in 1949, according to the Bee, and was eventually sent to Korea to serve with Company E of the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.

Stopping for Nothing

By October 1950, the 1st Cavalry Division had begun to close in on North Korea’s capital city, Pyongyang. On Oct. 9, Young’s company spearheaded a battalion drive north of the North Korean city of Kaesong when they were suddenly attacked by a devastating barrage of enemy mortar and automatic weapons fire. The assault wounded Young in the face and shoulder, and it quickly inflicted heavy causalities on his comrades.

Young, however, refused to be evacuated. He stayed in position and continued to fire at the enemy until he was hit again. While he waited to get first aid near the company’s command post, the enemy tried to envelop their team. So, Young gave up on getting medical treatment and went back to an exposed position, where he managed to kill five enemy soldiers. During the firefight, he was hit a third time by a bullet that knocked him to the ground and destroyed his helmet.

Later, when tanks moved forward to support the company, Young remained in place to direct tank fire, which destroyed three enemy gun positions and helped the company advance.

Young was wounded a fourth time, this time by a mortar burst. However, he offered first aid to other injured comrades instead of himself and refused to be evacuated until everyone else was.

Young’s leadership and valiant actions inspired his comrades and helped his company get out of the situation. Unfortunately, according to a 1956 Enterprise-Record newspaper article out of Chico, California, every man in Young’s platoon was either killed, wounded or captured.

Young himself died from wounds he suffered during the battle on Nov. 5, 1950. He was posthumously upgraded to the rank of corporal.

On June 21, 1951, Young’s father received the Medal of Honor on his son’s behalf from Army Gen. Omar N. Bradley at a Pentagon ceremony. His entire family had been flown to Washington for the occasion, the Enterprise-Record said.

Young is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.

Leaving a Legacy

While Young was deployed to Korea, his family said he noticed a lot of homeless children, so he did his best to help them. According to the Sacramento Bee, Young spent a lot of his spare time helping dozens of orphans get necessary supplies and find shelter living at a place that later became known as Boys Town Korea, Sung Sim Won.

After Young died, a monument was erected at the orphanage in his honor. The city of Vallejo also held a Robert H. Young Day to remember him in which residents collected clothing and other donations to send to the orphanage.

Young’s work with the children was so influential that his sister, Marjorie, later went to the orphanage and adopted a son, according to the Sacramento Bee. The boy’s new parents named him Robert.

This article is part of a weekly series called “Medal of Honor Monday,” in which we highlight one of the more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who have earned the U.S. military’s highest medal for valor.

Source: Department of Defense

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