Small Man, Big Hero – Pvt. Rodger Wilton Young, U.S. Army (1918-1943)

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The brave man is not he who feels no fear, For that were stupid and irrational. But he, whose noble soul its fears subdues, And bravely dares the danger, nature shrinks from.”
Joanna Baill


It was on April 28, 1918, that the Young’s of Tiffin Ohio had a son whom they named Rodger Wilton Young.  As a young boy Young grew up in Green Springs Ohio before moving to Clyde Ohio where he spent the rest of his childhood.

Young was a keen hunter and honed his skills with a rifle during this time.  Young was small in stature but was a keen athlete.  It was because of his keenness he eventually played football and basketball for his school.

During a basketball game Young was knocked down and was unconscious for some time.  Ultimately, because of this injury, Young was to become almost totally deaf.  He found it impossible to remain in school and dropped out in year 10.

Looking for a chance to earn some extra income shortly after turning twenty, Young joined the Ohio National Guard.  He was assigned to the 148th Infantry Regiment which was part of the 37th Infantry Division.

Young was the smallest man in his company and he wore glasses.  Despite this, he was considered a good soldier.

Towards the end of 1940 Young’s unit was activated.  Young, who was a corporal, was given the assignment as a small arms instructor to new recruits.  He was soon promoted to sergeant and was made a squad leader.

After December 7, 1941, and following Japan’s entry into the war, Young’s unit was deployed to Fiji and then to the Solomon Islands for further training.

The 148th was being prepared to land in New Georgia and root the Japanese who had occupied the Island.  Young became increasingly concerned about his hearing and eyesight which had become much worse.  He asked that he be reduced to Private so he would not be putting his squad at risk.

At first, Young’s commanders thought he was trying to avoid combat.  He was ordered to be assessed by a medical officer who indeed confirmed that Young was close to being totally deaf. The doctor recommended he be sent to a field hospital.  This would mean he would miss the landing at New Georgia that his unit was scheduled to undertake.  Young was desperate to stay with his men, and after pleading his case it was decided to let him remain with his unit as a PFC.

On July 31, 1943, near the village of Munda on New Georgia, Young’s unit had been ordered to reconnoiter the area near Munda which was occupied by the Japanese.  Young was part of the 20 man patrol that was moving back to their lines when they were pinned down by heavy fire from a Japanese machine gun nest.  The nest was on higher ground and had killed two men in their initial fire.  The American Patrol lost two more men as they attempted to flank the machine gun nest.

The commander of the patrol ordered his men to withdraw. Young, who had been wounded in the initial blast, claimed he had not heard the order to withdraw and started making his way towards the Japanese position, firing at them with his rifle and distracting them from firing at the men in his unit.  Wounded a second time, he continued his advance and when he was close enough to the Japanese position he began hurling grenades.  It was his persistent action that killed several enemy. Young was wounded a third time and this wound proved to be fatal.

The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the

Medal of Honor




Rank and Organization: Private, U.S. Army, 148th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division. Place and Date On New Georgia, Solomon Islands, 31 July 1943. Entered Service at: Clyde, Ohio. Birth: Tiffin, Ohio. G.O. No.: 3, 6 January 1944.

On 31 July 1943, the infantry company of which Pvt. Young was a member, was ordered to make a limited withdrawal from the battle line in order to adjust the battalion’s position for the night. At this time, Pvt. Young’s platoon was engaged with the enemy in a dense jungle where observation was very limited. The platoon suddenly was pinned down by intense fire from a Japanese machinegun concealed on higher ground only 75 yards away. The initial burst wounded Pvt. Young. As the platoon started to obey the order to withdraw, Pvt. Young called out that he could see the enemy emplacement, whereupon he started creeping toward it. Another burst from the machinegun wounded him the second time. Despite the wounds, he continued his heroic advance, attracting enemy fire and answering with rifle fire. When he was close enough to his objective, he began throwing hand grenades, and while doing so was hit again and killed. Pvt. Young’s bold action in closing with this Japanese pillbox and thus diverting its fire, permitted his platoon to disengage itself, without loss, and was responsible for several enemy casualties.


In 1949, Pvt. Rodger W. Young’s remains were returned to the United States and buried in McPherson Cemetery in Clyde, Ohio.