BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D. The 1st Marine Regiment’s motto is “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy”. Abrell’s fellow Marines observed the former, and there is clearly no doubt that the communist enemies who had the misfortune of coming up against Abrell in battle felt the latter.
Corporal Charles Gene Abrell, 19, of Terre Haute, Indiana, earned the Medal of Honor in Korea for sacrificing his life while leading an assault on enemy positions. He did what Hoosiers are known for, he became a quiet achiever, when the time came to be counted he was there. Hoosiers are known for their indomitable spirit. It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit.
The nation’s highest decoration for valor was awarded posthumously to the youthful Marine for extraordinary heroism on 10 June 1951 at Hangnyong, where he hurled himself into an enemy bunker with a live hand grenade, killing himself and the enemy gun crew in the explosion.
Abrell was the 14th Marine to receive the Medal of Honor for heroism in Korea. Born 12 August 1931 in Terre Haute, he attended public schools in Las Vegas, Nevada, before enlisting in the Marine Corps 17 August 1948 at the age of 17.
Following recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, he was assigned to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and also served aboard the USS Noble before going to Korea with the 1st Marine Division.
He was in action at Inchon, Seoul, Wonsan, Chosin Reservoir, and Hanghum before the assault on a hill near Hwachon in which he was killed.
As well as the Medal of Honor Abrell also was awarded the Letter of Commendation with Commendation ribbon and the Combat “V,” the Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Occupation Service Medal with Europe clasp, Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars, and the United Nations Service Medal.
On June 10 with the 2nd Battalion/1st Marine Regiment (“The Professionals”), Corporal Abrell charged forward through the point squad of his company which had been pinned down by vicious enemy fire. When his attack was upon an enemy bunker, there was only one way for him to destroy the enemy: he used himself as a missile. His sacrifice and courage was decorated with our Nation’s highest honor.
Corporal Charles G. Abrell
United States Marine Corps
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Fire Team Leader in Company E, Second Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressors forces in Korea on 10 June 1951. While advancing with his platoon in an attack against well-concealed and heavily-fortified enemy hill positions, Corporal Abrell voluntarily rushed forward through the assaulting squad which was pinned down by a hail of intense and accurate automatic-weapons fire from a hostile bunker situated on commanding ground. Although previously wounded by enemy hand-grenade fragments, he proceeded to carry out a bold, single-handed attack against the bunker, exhorting his comrades to follow him. Sustaining two additional wounds as he stormed toward the emplacement, he resolutely pulled the pin from a grenade clutched in his hand and hurled himself bodily into the bunker with the live missile still in his grasp. Fatally wounded in the resulting explosion which killed the entire enemy gun crew within the stronghold, Corporal Abrell, by his valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of certain death, served to inspire all his comrades and contributed directly to the success of his platoon in attaining its objective. His superb courage and heroic initiative sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Harry S. Truman
President of the United States
Corporal Charles Gene Abrell is buried at West Lawn Cemetery in Farmersburg, Indiana.
The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.