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Mail Tribune 100, March 20, 1919

The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago.

March 20, 1919

GOLD HILL BOY DECORATED FOR BRAVERY IN ACTION

A wounded and gassed Jackson county hero of Chateau Theirry, wearing a croix de guerre medal decorated with a palm leaf in official recognition of heroic conduct displayed on the battlefield, spent Thursday in Medford, in the person of William Dewey Herron of Gold Hill, who motored to this city this morning with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Herron.

Proud of his medal but with modesty, this 20 year old youth reluctantly discussed his war career and the exploits in which he was wounded and gassed and won his bravery medal. He had been in the United States marine service for 20 months, having enlisted from Gold Hill, and returned home from France in February. He still suffers from shell shock and wounds.

He was a member of the famous Fifth marines regiment which as he remembers it had 75 per cent of its members killed at Chateau Thierry, and most of those remaining alive were wounded. Out of his company of about 200 men, all but 16 were killed.

The same day on the night of which he was wounded he won his distinguished service medal. His terse story of this affair was told as follows:

“Seven of us went after a German machine gun nest that had been bothering us considerable. We circled about and got in their rear and finally charged on them with hand grenades, exterminating the Germans and capturing the machine gun, but five of our number were either killed or wounded in the attack. That’s all there was too it.”

But after Corporal Herron and the only other man left unscathed had reached their own lines and turned the captured machine gun over, after learning that the stretcher bearers had refused to go out to the location of the gun nest just cleared out and bring in the wounded marines, Herron and one other man at once volunteered to go back and try to bring in their wounded comrades. They advanced with bullets raining around them from other German machine gun nests, found two of the marines still alive, and brought them safely back into their own lines.

For this heroic conduct Herron and his companion were personally cited and awarded the palm leaf to wear on their distinguished service crosses. Every member of the Fifth marines was awarded the distinguished service cross.

About 1 o’clock that night his company had received orders to go over the top again and had just started when a big German shell exploded near Herron and, figuratively speaking, blew him up. A piece of the shell broke his left shoulder and another piece cut through the flesh of his right leg six inches between the knee and ankle clear to the bone. While he was still living where he fell the Germans sent over a wave of poisonous gas, which the wounded man breathed in. Because of the gas and wounds, Herron was unconscious for 18 hours after he fell, although picked up and removed to the field hospital soon after.

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