Notes


19500831 0000 MiGs

"Master Sergeant Ernest R. Kouma, A Company, 72nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, became the sixth Korean War Medal of Honor recipient. Then Sergeant First Class Kouma’s unit was supporting infantry elements on the Naktong River front when a North Korean force of 500 men crossed the river and attacked their position, inflicting heavy casualties. While covering the infantry’s withdrawal, Sergeant Kouma’s platoon had two tanks overrun, one destroyed and one forced to withdraw. Holding his ground, he kept his tank in position throughout the night, fending off repeated attacks. When enemy troops surrounded his tank, he manned the .50 caliber machine gun on the rear deck and delivered pointblank fire into the enemy. Running out of machinegun ammunition, he continued to fight with his pistol and grenades. After more than nine hours of constant combat, he withdrew his vehicle through eight miles of enemy held territory, destroying three machinegun nests along the way. In all he and his crew killed an estimated 250 of the enemy. Rejoining his company, he ignored his many wounds and attempted to re-supply his tank and return to the battle. Master Sergeant Kouma survived to receive America's highest award, the only tanker so honored during the Korean War."
 

Rank and organization: Master Sergeant (then Sergeant First Class) U.S. Army, Company A, 72nd Tank Battalion

Place and date: Vicinity of Agok, Korea, August 31, and September 1, 1950
Entered service at: Dwight, Nebr. Born: November 23, 1919, Dwight, Nebraska
G.O. No.: 38, June 4, 1951
Citation:
M/Sgt. Kouma, a tank commander in Company A, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. His unit was engaged in supporting infantry elements on the Naktong River front. Near midnight on August 31, a hostile force estimated at 500 crossed the river and launched a fierce attack against the infantry positions, inflicting heavy casualties. A withdrawal was ordered and his armored unit was given the mission of covering the movement until a secondary position could be established. The enemy assault overran 2 tanks, destroyed 1 and forced another to withdraw. Suddenly M/Sgt. Kouma discovered that his tank was the only obstacle in the path of the hostile onslaught. Holding his ground, he gave fire orders to his crew and remained in position throughout the night, fighting off repeated enemy attacks. During 1 fierce assault, the enemy surrounded his tank and he leaped from the armored turret, exposing himself to a hail of hostile fire, manned the .50 caliber machine gun mounted on the rear deck, and delivered pointblank fire into the fanatical foe. His machine gun emptied, he fired his pistol and threw grenades to keep the enemy from his tank. After more than 9 hours of constant combat and close-in fighting, he withdrew his vehicle to friendly lines. During the withdrawal through 8 miles of hostile territory, M/Sgt. Kouma continued to inflict casualties upon the enemy and exhausted his ammunition in destroying 3 hostile machine gun positions. During this action, M/Sgt. Kouma killed an estimated 250 enemy soldiers. His magnificent stand allowed the infantry sufficient time to reestablish defensive positions. Rejoining his company, although suffering intensely from his wounds, he attempted to resupply his tank and return to the battle area. While being evacuated for medical treatment, his courage was again displayed when he requested to return to the front. M/Sgt. Kouma's superb leadership, heroism, and intense devotion to duty reflect the highest credit on himself and uphold the esteemed traditions of the U.S. Army.