Almost Yesterday: Fred McGuire wins Congressional Medal of Honor
It seems like almost yesterday that Fred Henry McGuire of Gordonville, Missouri received our nation's highest award for valor, the Congressional Medal of Honor. McGuire was born on November 7, 1890 and joined the Navy at age 19 in 1909. Following basic training he was advanced to the Rank of Seaman, Hospital Apprentice and Chief Pharmacist's Mate. He was assigned to the gunboat U.S.S. Pampanga, a captured Spanish gunboat which was outfitted in 1899 as a U.S. Naval Vessel.
For a time the Pampanga served as a patrol boat in the service of the army, near Corregidor Island, but was returned to the Navy in late 1910. When the Pampanga was re-commissioned in April of 1911, twenty year old Fred McGuire was aboard, a member of a crew assigned to patrol duty off the coast of Basilan Island in the southern Philippines. Their assignment was to suppress a growing resistance to the American presence in the 7000 island Philippine archipelago.
On September 24, 1911 Fred McGuire was a member of a small shore party which moved inland toward the village of Mundang, a center of enemy activity. McGuire accompanied his team through a field of tall grass to within 100 yards of the village, when they received heavy fire – and an enemy assault. His commanding officer was hit and down and McGuire went into action, he emptied his rifle, used it as a club, and fought off the attackers until additional comrades reached the scene.
Although wounded, McGuire ministered tirelessly to the men who had been hit, saving the lives of his commanding officer and others who would surely have been lost. For action on this occasion Fred McGuire of Gordonville, Missouri received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
It seems like almost yesterday that we had such heroes.