Luther Skaggs, Jr. (MOH)
Luther Skaggs, Jr. (3 March 1923- 6 April 1976) was a United States Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on the beachhead on Guam during World War II.
Luther Skaggs, Jr. was born on 3 March 1923 in Henderson, Kentucky. He entered the Marine Corps on 6 October 1942, and received recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was deployed overseas on 1 March 1943.
Private First Class Skaggs, a squad leader with a weapon section in the 3rd Marine Division, was critically wounded when a Japanese grenade exploded in his foxhole during the night of 21-22 July 1944 on the Asan-Adelup beachhead on Guam. But instead of calling a corpsman and revealing his outfit’s position, he calmly applied a tourniquet to his shattered leg and for eight hours continued to return the enemy’s fire with his rifle and hand grenades.
In his Medal of Honor citation, Skaggs is commended for being uncomplaining and calm through this critical period and serving as “a heroic example of courage and fortitude to other wounded men.”
When his section leader became a casualty shortly after landing on the beachhead, PFC Skaggs promptly took over and led the section through intense fire for a distance of 200 yards to a strategic position.
It was while defending this vital position that he was wounded, and after fighting throughout the night propped up in his foxhole, he crawled unassisted to the rear where he continued the attack. Only when the Japanese in the area had been annihilated did he seek medical attention. He lost his leg as the result of the wound.
Private First Class Skaggs was referred to as a “tough little guy” by his buddies, who did not know that he had been hit until the battle was over. He was promoted to corporal upon being honorably discharged from active service in the Marine Corps on 4 April 1946.
The Medal of Honor was presented to him by President Harry S. Truman at a White House ceremony on 15 June 1945.
Luther Skaggs, Jr. died on 6 April 1976 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
MEDAL OF HONOR CITATION
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS LUTHER SKAGGS, JR.
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Squad Leader with a Mortar Section of a Rifle Company in the Third Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on the Asan-Adelup Beachhead, Guam, Marianas Islands, on 21-22 July 1944. When the section leader became a casualty under a heavy mortar barrage shortly after landing, Private First Class Skaggs promptly assumed command and led the section through intense fire for a distance of 200 yards to a position from which to deliver effective coverage of the assault on a strategic cliff. Valiantly defending this vital position against strong enemy counterattacks during the night, Private First Class Skaggs was critically wounded when a Japanese grenade lodged in his foxhole and exploded, shattering the lower part of one leg. Quick to act, he applied an improvised tourniquet and, while propped up in his foxhole, gallantly returned the enemy’s fire with his rifle and hand grenades for a period of eight hours, later crawling unassisted to the rear to continue to fight until the Japanese had been annihilated. Uncomplaining and calm throughout this critical period, Private First Class Skaggs served as a heroic example of courage and fortitude to other wounded men and, by his courageous leadership and inspiring devotion to duty, upheld the highest traditions for the United States Naval Service.