Last Known Activity|
Thomas A. Pope (December 15, 1894 ‚?? June 14, 1989) was a soldier in the United States Army who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the World War I.¬† He was the first U.S. Army Soldier during WWI to receive the Medal of Honor and the last of them to die.
Pope was born in Chicago, Illinois in December 15, 1894 and died June 14, 1989. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. His grave can be found in section 35, lot 3157.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Company E, 131st Infantry, 33d Division. Place and date: At Hamel, France, 4 July 1918. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Birth: Chicago, Ill. G.O. No.: 44, W.D., 1919.
Citation: His company was advancing behind the tanks when it was halted by hostile machinegun fire. Going forward alone, he rushed a machinegun nest, killed several of the crew with his bayonet, and, standing astride his gun, held off the others until reinforcements arrived and captured them.
From:¬† The Stars and Stripes
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Took and Held Machine Gun
POPE, THOMAS A., corporal, CompanyE., 131st Infantry; at Hamel, France,¬†¬†July 4, 1918, Corporal Pope‚??s company was advancing behind the tanks when it washalted by hostile machine gun fire.¬†Goingforward alone, he rushed a machine gunnest, Killed several of the crew with hisbayonet and, standing astride of the gun,held off the others until¬†reinforcements arrived and captured them.
Home address:J. J. Pope, brother, 694 Overhill Avenue,Chicago, Ill.
Cpl. Thomas A. Pope
Young Infantryman Charged German Machine Gun, Spurred Allies On To Hamel
Young Chicagoan Thomas A. Pope was assigned to Company E, 1st Illinois Infantry, along with his brother and a host of childhood friends during World War I. The regiment joined with the 2nd Illinois to become the 66th Infantry Brigade of the 33rd Infantry Division.
In early June 1918, the men of Company E arrived in France. They had endured a year of training in Illinois and Texas, had seen their regiment renamed and reclassified, and had changed company commanders. But their biggest shock lay ahead: only 34 days after arriving in Europe, they found themselves at the front.
The Allies' key rail junction was at Amiens. Earlier in 1918, when the Germans launched an offensive that threatened the Amiens area, there was no time for Gen. John J. Pershing to mass American authority, so the 66th Infantry Brigade was attached to the Australian Brigade. The combined units were ordered to seize the town of Hamel on July 4. The assault was to be made on a 2,600-yard front from the Somme to the Bois de Vaire. As the battalion attacked, they encountered resistance -- concentrated machine-gun fire from one point.
According to one source, Pope yelled "I see it!" and sprinted out, charging into the enemy machine-gun nest before its surprised crew could fire at him. Pope wiped out the crew with his bayonet, then calmly turned, stood astride the gun, and picked off a nearby German squad with his rifle.
When the rest of his battalion caught up with Pope, they swept in and captured Hamel. During the two days of counterattack that followed, Pope was gassed and invalided back to England.
In 1919, his extraordinary actions were recognized when Pope became the Army's first Medal of Honor winner in France. During the awards ceremony, Cpl. Thomas A. Pope also received the Distinguished Conduct Medal from the British and the Medaille Militaire and Croix de Guerre from the French.
Thomas A. Pope, 94; Last Surviving Army WWI Medal of Honor Winner
June 21, 1989: From the Los Angeles Times Wire Services
The U.S. Army's last surviving World War I Medal of Honor winner has died at the age of 94.
Thomas A. Pope, who lived in Woodland Hills, Calif., and Norwood Park, Ill., died last Wednesday in Hines Veterans Hospital near this small Illinois city.
Although he saw action for only two days in World War I, Pope received commendations from four nations as well as the highest honor his own country could bestow.
On July 4, 1918, he was entering his second month in France without seeing any action. Then a corporal, he spotted a machine-gun nest. Waving to his platoon to lie low, he charged the nest, killing the gunner before he could swing the machine gun toward the platoon. He then bayoneted another German soldier and held off eight more Germans, whom his men then took prisoner.
Before the sun set that Independence Day, his platoon had taken 100 prisoners. The next day he was gassed and sent back from the lines to an Army hospital.
He became one of 95 U.S. soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor in the war and was the last surviving one. A Navy veteran is still alive.
In 1923 he became president of the Combat Medal Men, an organization of servicemen who held the Medal of Honor.
After the war, Pope served as a contract officer and adviser to the Veterans Administration and was district foreman for the Cook County Highway Department.
Survivors include 3 daughters, Marguerite Bugarewicz, Betty Jayne Schmitt and Jackie Stone; 8 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
He will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
NY¬†Times Obituaries: Thomas A. Pope, War Hero, 94
AP; Published: June 18, 1989
Thomas A. Pope, the last surviving Medal of Honor winner of World War I, died of congestive heart failure Wednesday at the Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Administration Hospital in this Chicago suburb. He was 94 years old.
He was decorated for charging a machine-gun nest in France on July 4, 1918, when he was a 23-year-old corporal with the Army's 33d Division. For his heroism, he received not only the Medal of Honor but also the British Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Medaille Militaire and the Croix de Guerre from France.