Medal of Honor recipient honored during 200th Ordnance Corps anniversary celebration
May 21, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. -- A Medal of Honor recipient was honored May 17 as part of the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps' 200th anniversary celebration.
A large crowd turned out to view the U.S. Army Ordnance School's parade field dedication ceremony here in honor of Maj. Hulon B. Whittington, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions that occurred on July 29, 1944, while attached to the 41st Armored Infantry, 2nd Armored Division, near Grimesnil, France.
This field will serve as a lasting tribute to this ordnance officer, said Col. Greg A. Mason, U.S. Army Ordnance School commandant. "Every Soldier who stands on this field will be reminded of his example of selfless service and dedication to duty."
The Ordnance School, which is part of the Combined Arms Support Command, instructs almost 30,000 students a year in 288 courses, which support training for 34 enlisted military occupational specialties, nine warrant officer and two officer areas of concentration.
During the keynote address, Dr. William F. Atwater, who served as the U.S. Army Ordnance Museum director for 18 years, described Whittington as a real American hero.
"I never had the honor to meet him, but I wish I had," he said. "That way, I could have said I met a man who embodied all of the Army values…. If he were here, I would say thank you for your service, deeds and the example you have set.
"What should we take away? I suggest we all should take away his example of values," Atwater said as he spoke about how Whittington's values helped him make decisions and defined who he was as a person and Soldier.
Atwater went on to explain the criteria for being awarded the Medal of Honor and how Whittington's actions were great examples of the high standards required for that award. He said that the ordnance Soldier was more than the embodiment of the Army's core values; he was a hero.
Lasting tribute --
Maj. Hulon Brock Whittington was born in Bogalusa, La., on July 9, 1921. He enlisted in the Army in August 1940. He participated in the invasions of North Africa and Sicily and was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, the French Croix de Guerre and the Belgian Fouraguerre for heroism in Sicily and in France during 26 months of combat.
On July 29, 1944, a strong enemy attack began around midnight and overtook some small American outposts. Whittington reorganized the defense and, under fire, courageously crawled between gun positions to check the actions of his men. When the advancing enemy attempted to penetrate a road block he organized, he disregarded intense enemy action, mounted a tank and by shouting through the turret, directed it into position to fire point blank at the lead Mark V German tank. The destruction of this vehicle blocked all movement of the remaining enemy column, consisting of more than 100 vehicles of a Panzer unit. The blocked vehicles were then destroyed by hand grenades, bazooka, tank and artillery fire and large numbers of enemy personnel were defeated. When the medical Soldier became a casualty, Whittington personally administered first aid to his wounded men.
After the war, he was commissioned a first lieutenant of infantry in August 1949 and, in November 1951, was assigned to the Ordnance Officer Candidate School at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. In April 1953, he was assigned to the Ordnance School and in September of that year transferred from infantry to ordnance. Promoted to captain in October 1953, he remained at the Ordnance School until December 1954. Later assignments included tours in the pacific, at the Erie Ordnance Depot in Ohio and in europe. After promotion to major in September 1960, he went to Vietnam as a senior volunteer ordnance advisor to the Republic of Vietnam Army's 2nd. In Vietnam, he suffered a heart attack and retired from the Army in March 1963. Whittington died in Toledo, Ohio, on Jan. 17, 1969, at the age of 47.