Hospitalman Richard David DeWert USN

Hospitalman Richard DeWert

Richard DeWert was born on 17 November 1931 in Taunton, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in December 1948. Following "boot camp" and Hospital Corps training at Great Lakes, Illinois, he was assigned to the Naval Hospital at Portsmouth, Virginia, during 1949-50. In July 1950, he joined the Fleet Marine Force and soon sailed for the Far East to take part in the Korean War . Landing with the First Marine Division at Inchon in September 1950, Hospitalman DeWert participated in operations to liberate the city of Seoul. During the rest of 1950, he was involved in the landings at Wonsan , the Chosin Reservoir Campaign and the Hungnam Evacuation.

In 1951 Hospitalman DeWert served with the Marines as they cleared North Korean guerrillas from rural areas of South Korea and as they helped drive the enemy beyond the Thirty-eighth Parallel. On 5 April 1951, while with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines during an attack on Chinese Communist forces, DeWert persistently, and in spite of his own wounds, moved through fire-swept ground to aid fallen Marines. He was killed in action while administering first aid to an injured comrade. For his great heroism on this occasion, Hospitalman Richard DeWert was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

(Text and photo courtesy of the USNHC)

Read a biography of Richard DeWert: Angel of the Marines by Fred E. Kasper USN .


Medal of Honor Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Medical Corpsman, attached to a Marine infantry company, 1st Marine Division, in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 5 April 1951. When a fire team from the point platoon of his company was pinned down by a deadly barrage of hostile automatic weapons fire and suffered many casualties, DeWert rushed to the assistance of one of the more seriously wounded and, despite a painful leg wound sustained while dragging the stricken Marine to safety, steadfastly refused medical treatment for himself and immediately dashed back through the fire-swept area to carry a second wounded man out of the line of fire. Undaunted by the mounting hail of devastating enemy fire, he bravely moved forward a third time and received another serious wound in the shoulder after discovering that a wounded Marine had already died. Still persistent in his refusal to submit to first aid, he resolutely answered the call of a fourth stricken comrade and, while rendering medical assistance, was himself mortally wounded by a burst of enemy fire. His courageous initiative, great personal valor, and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of overwhelming odds reflect the highest credit upon DeWert and enhance the finest traditions of the United States naval service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.


By Senior Chief Hospitalman Fred E. Kasper USN

I woke up yesterday morning with a sweat-soaked shirt,
wondering what it would be like if I had been Richard DeWert.

A hardened smile that echoed tears of pain,
A mother's neglect at leaving her child in the rain.

He went willingly with visions of heroism and pride,
To become a Hospital Corpsman in our Nations' fight.

With hopes of the future, to be a doctor someday,
A harsh taste of combat and the dreams fade away.

It was early April with Dog 2/7,
No angels of mercy were looking down from heaven.

A bitter long trek to the 38th parallel,
When they took enemy fire and his Marines began to yell.

"Everybody down, were in for a fight",
the smell of fear and death took them in to the night.

On patrol the next morning as a thick fog rolled in,
The eerie silence of what was to begin.

Suddenly the fog lifted as quickly as it came,
The platoon's being cut down by bullets in vain.

Cries for "Doc" were all that he heard,
Marines gasping for air as they said their last word.

"Don't go out there Doc, wait until it's time",
a reply was met with, "You do your job, I'll do mine."

No time for thinking they're bleeding fast,
He pulled his first Marine to safety as he felt the first blast.

His leg burning, a sharp pain indeed,
Ignored for the comfort of his Marines in need.

Dodging through bullets, a daring second trip,
He carried the injured from the enemy's tight grip.

Undaunted by his own condition, his only thought of saving lives,
Dashing automatic fire for a third grueling time.

Another sharp blast of enemy fire,
Piercing pain to his shoulder and he's beginning to tire.

Persistent in his commitment of saving these men,
Out for a fourth time to meet the enemy again.

Assuring his Marines it was going to be alright,
Machine gun fire rendered his mortal plight.

As he lay over the Marine he was to save,
A thousand angels laid feathers at his blood-soaked grave.

As for the men who witnessed such courage and compassion,
They were inspired to move quickly against the enemy's action.

Some say it was Doc who saved them all,
His selfless sacrifice in answering the call.

I woke up this morning with a calm and grace,
As I looked in the mirror and saw my face.

I realized a few things about my wondering and dismay,
About the legacy Richard DeWert has left us today.

The Hospital Corps can forever stand tall,
For this young man, so fragile, gallantly gave his all.

The Medal of Honor is what they gave,
His selfless deeds so proud and brave.

Long may you rest our brother DeWert,
No longer to bear the pain of those that are hurt.

Reprinted with the permission of Fred E. Kasper USN
© Fred E. Kasper all rights reserved


Hospitalman Richard D. DeWert USN
Page published Feb. 2, 2007