Uncommon Valor | VideoCliff Naylor | 2/11/2013
The Philippine Insurrection of 1899 was the first conflict where the gallantry of state`s soldiers was recognized. Following the Spanish American War, Filipino revolutionary forces, bitter about the occupation of the islands by the United States, attacked American forces.
Jim Davis of The State Historical Society says The First North Dakota Volunteers repelled the rebels` initial assault, and because of their heroism, nine soldiers received the Medal of Honor.
"They charged a 300 man entrenched Filipino group. Twelve men routed 300 Filipinos."
The North Dakota Volunteers raced 150 yards across an open field, dodging hundreds of bullets to defeat the enemy. For their bravery, four soldiers received the Medal of Honor.
During another battle in the Philippines, a force of 21 took a bridge and routed 600 enemy fighters. As a result, five more North Dakotans were awarded the Medal of Honor.
During The Second World War, Mark Halvorson, Curator of Collections for the State Historical Society says two more residents, Orville Block of Streeter and Henry Gurke of Neche, displayed uncommon heroism.
"He threw himself on a grenade to protect his compatriot who had a BAR, a Browning Automatic Weapon, in order to repulse a Japanese attack."
Gurke`s Medal of Honor is on display at the State Historical Society.
Master Sergeant Woodrow Wilson Keeble of Wahpeton earned his Medal of Honor for his heroic actions taking Hill 765 during the Korean War, according to Davis.
"He crawled, left his men, crawled up the mountain and single handedly took out three machine gun nests, he basically took the hill by himself."
Keeble was also inducted into the Theodore Roosevelt Roughrider Hall of Fame in 2008. The State Historical Society has two of the Medals of Honor given to North Dakotans.
The award is typically retained by the family of the soldiers or buried with the recipient.
Two other soldiers who were part-time residents of Dakota Territory also earned the Medal of Honor. Tom Custer, who fought and died alongside his brother, Lieutenant George Armstrong Custer at The Battle of the Little Bighorn, was given the award posthumously in his home state of Michigan.
Theodore Roosevelt, who spent time here over a ten year period, earned the Medal of Honor posthumously, in New York, in 2001 for valor during the Spanish American War.