Captain Carlton R. Rouh, received the Medal of Honor for falling on a grenade and saving fellow Marines. Rouh was able to survive the blast.
BARSTOW, Calif. – Few acts of heroism and selflessness can match jumping upon a live hand grenade in combat.
Designed to kill or injure in a large area, absorbing the entire blast of a grenade with one’s own body means almost certain death. It is for this reason that several service members throughout history have received the Medal of Honor for this ultimate act of self-sacrifice.
Carlton R. Rouh however, is one of very few men who have fallen on a grenade and lived to tell the tale.
Born May 11, 1919 in Lindenwold, N.J., Rouh enlisted in the Marine Corps, January 1942, shortly after the outbreak of World War II.
Following basic training, Pvt. Rouh was sent to the pacific theater for combat duty.
Rouh received the Silver Star Medal during the Battle of Guadalcanal for carrying wounded men out of enemy fire, until he himself was wounded. In addition to this, Rouh was awarded a battlefield commission to second lieutenant for his outstanding leadership and initiative in combat.
As an officer, Rouh was put in command of a weapons platoon during the New Britain Campaign.
Rouh was promoted to first lieutenant prior to the Battle of Peleliu where he performed actions above and beyond the call of duty.
On September 15, 1944, during the Battle of Peleliu, Rouh was severely wounded by Japanese fire. Two of his fellow Marines managed to pull him away to a safer location and began administering first aid.
While receiving first aid, Rouh and his men came under fierce Japanese fire and grenade assault, with one grenade landing in their midst. Despite his injuries, Rouh shoved his two comrades aside and threw his body over the grenade. Rouh’s body absorbed the entire blast, leaving his two Marines uninjured.
Still conscious, Rouh heard the continuing firefight, and was eventually able to be evacuated. For his selfless actions, Rouh received the Medal of Honor.
Following his evacuation, Rouh was hospitalized to recover from his grievous wounds. Upon his retirement from active duty, Rouh was promoted to captain.
Rouh passed away December 8, 1977, but his actions and the actions of service members like him continue to inspire people to this day.
Medal of Honor Citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu Island, Palau group, 15 September 1944. Before permitting his men to use an enemy dugout as a position for an 81-mm. mortar observation post, 1st Lt. Rouh made a personal reconnaissance of the pillbox and, upon entering, was severely wounded by Japanese rifle fire from within. Emerging from the dugout, he was immediately assisted by 2 marines to a less exposed area but, while receiving first aid, was further endangered by an enemy grenade which was thrown into their midst. Quick to act in spite of his weakened condition, he lurched to a crouching position and thrust both men aside, placing his own body between them and the grenade and taking the full blast of the explosion himself. His exceptional spirit of loyalty and self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death reflects the highest credit upon 1st Lt. Rouh and the U.S. Naval Service.
BY LANCE CPL GARRETT WHITE, DVIDS MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BARSTOW