Was this ‘badass Marine’ denied a medal of honor for WWI valor?

By Dave Kindy
via the HistoryNet.com web site

George HamiltonMaj. George W. Hamilton's bravery helped establish the reputation of the Marine Corps as one of the world’s toughest fighting units. George Hamilton may be a hero of the highest order — who you've never heard of.

Bullets were flying and men were falling on that deadly day at Belleau Wood in France. The counterattack by French, British and American forces on June 6, 1918, was designed to blunt the German Spring Offensive and protect Paris from capture.

At 3:50 a.m. that morning, Capt. George Hamilton of the U.S. Marine Corps led his company across an open farm field to secure the edge of the forested area — only to watch his troops be killed by lethal German machine gun fire moving like a scythe through the wheat that grew there.

With men hugging the ground and dying around him — Hamilton witnessed all five of his junior officers killed that morning — the captain recognized it was time for action. What he did next helped establish the legacy of the Corps as one of the toughest fighting units in the world and create his own legendary status as one of the bravest Marines in history.

Disregarding his own safety, Hamilton stood up in the withering fire and urged his men forward. He ran along the battleline, shouting orders and encouragement for them to leave the field and head into the trees of Belleau Wood.

With bayonets fixed, the Marines of 49th Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment (1/5) rose en masse and charged the German positions. Hamilton led the attack into what became a bloody mele. He personally killed four Germans in fierce hand-to-hand combat.

More than a thousand Marines of the 4th Brigade would lose their lives that day in this first test of combat for the Corps in World War I. However, the individual acts of bravery by Hamilton and other Marines, including Sgt. Maj. Daniel “Dan” Daly, would lead the Corps to victory and a place in history.

Yet despite his heroics on that deadly day, Hamilton’s name rarely ranks when compared to names of Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, and Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler.

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