Marine Pfc. Robert E. had simply fallen asleep after an evening patrol in August 1952 when he was rousted to function radioman for a 12-man squad headed to occupy a spot referred to as “Outpost Irene” north of Seoul.
He thought it was going to be straightforward. “I had been to the outpost earlier than and considered it as a considerably trip as a result of no motion had ever been there on a regular basis I would been on that exact a part of the road,” Simanek mentioned years later in a Veterans Historical past Mission interview for the Library of Congress.
“So, I took an previous Reader’s Digest and a can of treasured beer in my massive again pocket and thought I used to be actually going to have a soothing state of affairs. It did not end up that means,” he mentioned.
The Chinese language attacked. In the course of the ensuing firefight, two grenades landed within the shallow trench the place Simanek and different Marines had taken cowl whereas returning hearth.
Simanek kicked away one of many grenades, taking shrapnel in his legs from the blast.
“I did not suppose there was any time left” to seize the second grenade and throw it again, he mentioned. So he coated the second grenade together with his physique to guard the opposite members of the patrol.
Most of that blast hit his proper aspect and leg, however he managed to crawl away to fulfill a aid column, which took him again to the entrance strains and a ready helicopter. “I loved that helicopter experience [to a hospital ship] a lot,” he mentioned.
At a White Home ceremony on Oct. 23, 1953, Simanek was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Dwight D. Eisenhower for his actions on Aug. 17, 1952, whereas serving with Firm F, 2nd Battalion, fifth Marines, 1st Marine Division.
On Monday, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society introduced that Simanek had died in Novi, Michigan, at age 92.
His Medal of Honor quotation reads partly: “Decided to avoid wasting his comrades when a hostile grenade was hurled into their midst, he unhesitatingly threw himself on the lethal missile absorbing the shattering violence of the exploding cost in his physique and shielding his fellow Marines from critical harm or dying.”
Simanek later informed the Detroit News that he was one among 4 service members who acquired the Medal of Honor throughout the White Home ceremony, however “I used to be the one one he [Eisenhower] talked to and all of the reporters wished to know what he mentioned to me.”
“I made one thing good up,” Simanek recalled, “however the one factor I bear in mind is him me and saying, ‘Why do not you flip round and take a look at everybody now.'”
Simanek, initially from Detroit, spent almost a 12 months recovering from his wounds at navy hospitals earlier than being medically discharged from the Marine Corps. He went on to earn a level at Michigan State College and later labored as an accountant and enterprise supervisor.
In a tribute to his legacy, then-Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite introduced in January 2021 that the subsequent Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary cell base ship, scheduled to be launched in 2024, will likely be named the USS Robert E. Simanek (ESB-7).
His dying leaves former Army Cpl. Hiroshi Miyamura and retired Army Col. Ralph Puckett Jr. as the one two surviving Medal of Honor recipients from the Korean Conflict out of the entire of 146 who acquired the nation’s highest award for valor in that battle.
Miyamura, now aged 96, acquired the medal for his actions in April 1951 in preventing off a Chinese language assault with a bayonet and a machine gun. Puckett, now aged 95, acquired the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions as a lieutenant serving with the Eighth Army Ranger Firm in November 1950 in repelling a Chinese language assault regardless of being wounded a number of instances.
Puckett went on to serve in Vietnam, the place he additionally was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. His award from Korea was later upgraded, and he acquired the Medal of Honor from President Joe Biden at a White Home ceremony on Might 21, 2021.
— Richard Sisk could be reached at Richard.Sisk@Army.com.
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