How One Man Put His Life on the Line to Defeat Two Grenades to Save His Fellow Marines
Robert Simanek joined the Marine Corps shortly after graduating from high school. Not long after enlisting, he was shipped off to a war zone. Private First Class Simanek served as a rifleman, carrying a trusty Browning Automatic Rifle by his side. Then, he was tasked with being a radioman for the platoon, requiring him to pull double duty.
Simanek was part of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment while serving in Korea. On August 17, 1952, along with his squad, Simanek was out on patrol, moving between various outposts located just north of Seoul when disaster struck.
During the patrol, according to a report by We Are the Mighty, Simanek’s squad took a wrong turn. Quickly, the 12-man team came face-to-face with Chinese forces who were occupying the area.
The squad came under fire, leading Simanek and several other Marines to take cover in a trench line located nearby.
After sustaining some casualties, Simanek worked his way to the left of his original position. He bumped into two Chinese officers who, even though gunfire rang out all around, were simply having a conversation. They were completely unaware of Simanek’s presence, allowing him to take them out with a few quick shots from his rifle.
Simanek was maneuvering his way through the area when two grenades landed at his feet. He managed to kick the first one away but didn’t have time to get the second one out of the area.
Instead of trying to hide, Simanek shielded his fellow Marines by using his own body to cover the grenade, providing them with some level of safety from the explosion, and likely saving their lives.
Somehow, Simanek survived and even continued to give instructions to other wounded Marines, helping them find their way to the rear by providing them with cover.
Simanek had to crawl to move around the battlefield but was always mindful of the battle occurring around him.
Ultimately, a rescue squad arrived before he encountered another enemy fighter, and he was medevaced to safety.
On October 27, 1953, President Eisenhower presented Simanek with the Medal of Honor, in recognition of his selflessness and bravery in the face of certain danger.