Private First Class Richard E. Kraus, USMCR (October 3, 1944)

As regular readers know, I’ve been blogging every World War II Medal of Honor recipient on their 70th anniversaries, and I have to offer my apologies because it appears I missed one!

Richard Edward Kraus was born on November 24, 1925 in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was on his 18th birthday in 1943 that he joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve. His first combat action was during the Marine Corps‘ assault on Peleliu in the fall of 1944 as part of a unit attached to the 1st Marine Division.

Kraus’ Medal of Honor citation indicates a date of action of October 5, 1944. Other sources say October 3. I am inclined to accept the October 3 date (even if the 5th is correct, I’m getting this in just barely under the wire!).

On that day just over seventy years ago, Private First Class Kraus smothered a grenade with his own body to save the lives of fellow Marines.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (G-L):

Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon (background)
Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon (background)
Photo: Military Times’ Hall of Valor


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 8th Amphibious Tractor Battalion, Fleet Marine Force, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu, Palau Islands, on 5 October 1944. Unhesitatingly volunteering for the extremely hazardous mission of evacuating a wounded comrade from the front lines, Pfc. Kraus and 3 companions courageously made their way forward and successfully penetrated the lines for some distance before the enemy opened with an intense, devastating barrage of hand grenades which forced the stretcher party to take cover and subsequently abandon the mission. While returning to the rear, they observed 2 men approaching who appeared to be marines and immediately demanded the password. When, instead of answering, 1 of the 2 Japanese threw a hand grenade into the midst of the group, Pfc. Kraus heroically flung himself upon the grenade and, covering it with his body, absorbed the full impact of the explosion and was instantly killed. By his prompt action and great personal valor in the face of almost certain death, he saved the lives of his 3 companions, and his loyal spirit of self-sacrifice reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his comrades.

Kraus’ remains were repatriated to the United States from their temporary burial in a cemetery on Peleliu in 1948. He rests in peace in the Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Gearing-class destroyer USS Richard E. Kraus (DD-849) was named in his memory and served with the United States Navy from 1946 to 1976.



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