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John Noble Holcomb (June 11, 1946 �?? December 3, 1968) was a United States Army soldier born in Baker, Oregon and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration�??the Medal of Honor�??for his actions in the Vietnam War.
Holcomb joined the Army from Corvallis, Oregon, and by December 3, 1968 was serving as a Sergeant in Company D, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. During an enemy attack on that day, near Quan Loi in the Republic of Vietnam, Holcomb led his squad and later his platoon, after all other platoon leaders had been killed, in the defense of their position. Holcomb was mortally wounded during the battle and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his leadership.
Holcomb, aged 22 at his death, was buried in Eagle Valley Cemetery, Richland, Oregon.
Medal of Honor Citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Holcomb distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader in Company D during a combat assault mission. Sgt. Holcomb's company assault had landed by helicopter and deployed into a hasty defensive position to organize for a reconnaissance-in-force mission when it was attacked from 3 sides by an estimated battalion-size enemy force. Sgt. Holcomb's squad was directly in the path of the main enemy attack. With complete disregard for the heavy fire, Sgt. Holcomb moved among his men giving encouragement and directing fire on the assaulting enemy. When his machine gunner was knocked out, Sgt. Holcomb seized the weapon, ran to a forward edge of the position, and placed withering fire on the enemy. His gallant actions caused the enemy to withdraw. Sgt. Holcomb treated and carried his wounded to a position of safety and reorganized his defensive sector despite a raging grass fire ignited by the incoming enemy mortar and rocket rounds. When the enemy assaulted the position a second time, Sgt. Holcomb again manned the forward machinegun, devastating the enemy attack and forcing the enemy to again break contact and withdraw. During the enemy withdrawal an enemy rocket hit Sgt. Holcomb's position, destroying his machinegun and severely wounding him. Despite his painful wounds, Sgt. Holcomb crawled through the grass fire and exploding mortar and rocket rounds to move the members of his squad, everyone of whom had been wounded, to more secure positions. Although grievously wounded and sustained solely by his indomitable will and courage, Sgt. Holcomb as the last surviving leader of his platoon organized his men to repel the enemy, crawled to the platoon radio and reported the third enemy assault on his position. His report brought friendly supporting fires on the charging enemy and broke the enemy attack. Sgt. Holcomb's inspiring leadership, fighting spirit, in action at the cost of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
From the Baker City [Oregon] Herald, November 9, 2009
Park, building named in honor of local veterans
Written by Baker City Herald November 09, 2009 04:06 am
HOLCOMB PARK, NEAR RICHLAND
John Noble Holcomb came from one of Baker County�??s tiniest towns, and became one of America�??s greatest heroes.
Holcomb hailed from Richland, population 175. He was born June 11, 1946, in Baker City, and graduated from Eagle Valley High School in Richland in 1964.
Holcomb is one of just 13 Oregonians, and the only Baker County resident, ever awarded the
Medal of Honor, the U.S. military�??s highest decoration.
Holcomb, however, did not live to accept his Medal.
He died near Quan Loi, South Vietnam, on Dec. 3, 1968.
He was 22 years old.
Holcomb, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, was killed during a firefight in which, according to the citation that accompanied his Medal of Honor, he demonstrated �??indomitable will and courage�?? after his unit was attacked from three sides.
When the machine-gunner in Holcomb�??s squad was hurt, Holcomb �??seized the weapon, ran to a forward edge of the position, and placed withering fire on the enemy. His gallant actions caused the enemy to withdraw.�??
After the first attack, Holcomb carried several of his wounded comrades to a safer spot.
Holcomb manned the machine gun again and repulsed a second enemy attack, but a rocket exploded near his position, destroying the machine gun and wounding Holcomb. The enemy artillery also ignited a grass fire.
Even after he was wounded, Holcomb �??crawled through a grass fire and exploding mortar and rocket rounds to move the members of his squad, every one of whom had been wounded, to more secure positions.�??
Then Holcomb crawled to a radio and reported the attack. His report allowed other units to pinpoint fire on the area and defeat the third and final attack.
A quarter century later, on July 4, 1993, Baker County honored Holcomb by dedicating the park named for him on the shore of Brownlee Reservoir.
Mike Nelson, a Baker City Realtor, spoke on that occasion, describing Holcomb as �??a man who exemplified the ultimate plateau of human behavior.�??
DIRECTIONS: About two miles east of Richland, adjacent to Hewitt Park.
SGT John Noble Holcomb is buried at Eagle Valley Cemetery, Richmond, Oregon. Find A Grave Memorial: