This Medal of Honor Recipient Killed 5 Enemy Soldiers Without Using a Gun. While Rendering Aid to Wounded Comrades
Sgt. David Bruce Bleak, an imposing figure at over six feet five inches tall and weighing in at around 250 pounds, left high school early to work ranching and railroad positions before joining the Army in 1950. He became a medical aidman, responsible for rendering care to soldiers as needed, and was sent to war.
Bleak became a member of the 223rd Infantry Regiment, 40th Infantry Division’s medical company, and, in January 1952, during the height of the Korean War, was shipped to Korea to a location near Minari-gol to support the South Koreans.
On June 14, 1952, he volunteered for a reconnaissance patrol whose mission was to locate an enemy prisoner for interrogation, according to a report by the Washington Post.
As the patrol climbed the rough slope on Hill 499, they came under fire by Chinese soldiers fighting for the North. The Chinese carried automatic weapons and small arms, wounding some of the allied soldiers.
Bleak quickly tended to the casualties before rejoining the fight. He located two Chinese soldiers in a trench and sprang into action.
He dove into the trench, breaking one of the enemy fighter’s necks in one swift motion and crushing the others windpipe, both with his bare hands. When a third appeared, he used his trenching knife to stab the fighter in the chest.
When a grenade bounced off of a soldier’s helmet and tumbled next to himself and the fellow soldier, he threw himself onto the man, blocking much of the blast.
As the engagement continued, Chinese soldiers kept firing, injuring three Americans including Bleak, who was shot in the leg. Bleak, ignoring his own wound, treated the other soldiers. When he determined one was unable to make it down the hill on his own, Bleak carried him down the slope while Chinese soldiers continued to fire.
When two Chinese soldiers appeared in front of them, Bleak set his fellow soldier down, charged the Chinese fighters, grabbed them both by the head, and bashed their skulls together, then grabbed the wounded soldier and continued down the hill.
Ultimately, all members of the reconnaissance patrol survived, though nearly a third were wounded during the battle, including Bleak.
On October 27, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower awarded Bleak the Medal of Honor for his actions.