Melvin Mayfield was born in Salem, West Virginia on March 24, 1919. He later moved to Ohio, and was living in Nashport when he was drafted into the United States Army on February 11, 1941. What would have been a single year’s service was extended indefinitely with America’s entry into World War II the following December.
Mayfield was a member of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 6th Infantry Division. The division deployed for service in the Pacific in July of 1943 and kept training until they first saw combat in the New Guinea campaign during June of 1944. After that campaign, they were sent to the Philippines.
The 6th Infantry Division landed on the Philippine island of Luzon at Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945. Nearly seven months later, they were engaging the last remaining Japanese enemy in the Cordillera Mountains.
On this day seventy years ago, Mayfield single-handedly destroyed five enemy strong points, continuing his attack with just hand grenades when Japanese fires destroyed his weapon. His Medal of Honor was awarded the following year. His date of action makes his the “last” Medal awarded for World War II, although others were awarded and presented long after his.
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Company D, 20th Infantry, 6th Infantry Division. Place and date: Cordillera Mountains, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 29 July 1945. Entered service at: Nashport, Ohio. G.O. No.: 49, 31 May 1946
Citation: He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while fighting in the Cordillera Mountains of Luzon, Philippine Islands. When 2 Filipino companies were pinned down under a torrent of enemy fire that converged on them from a circular ridge commanding their position, Cpl. Mayfield, in a gallant single-handed effort to aid them, rushed from shell hole to shell hole until he reached 4 enemy caves atop the barren fire-swept hill. With grenades and his carbine, he assaulted each of the caves while enemy fire pounded about him. However, before he annihilated the last hostile redoubt, a machinegun bullet destroyed his weapon and slashed his left hand. Disregarding his wound, he secured more grenades and dauntlessly charged again into the face of pointblank fire to help destroy a hostile observation post. By his gallant determination and heroic leadership, Cpl. Mayfield inspired the men to eliminate all remaining pockets of resistance in the area and to press the advance against the enemy.
Mayfield left the Army still as a Corporal and returned to civilian life. He passed away at age 71 on June 19, 1990 and was laid to rest in the Frazeysburg Cemetery, Frazeysburg, Ohio.