DAVID BERNARD CHAMPAGNE, USMC
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The Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously to Cpl David B. Champagne, of Wakefield, Rhode Island, for heroism in action against enemy forces in Korea. He was the 29th Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during the Korean conflict.
Born 13 November 1932, David Bernard Champagne attended public schools in Wakefield and worked at the local Community Theatre prior to enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps on 7 March 1951 in Boston, Massachusetts. He received recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, and then was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California. After being transferred to the 1st Marine Division in Korea, he participated in three campaigns before being mortally wounded.
On 28 May 1952, Cpl Champagne, a fire team leader, advanced with his platoon in the initial assault on a strongly fortified and heavily defended enemy hill position. He successfully led his team through enemy grenade, small-arms, and machinegun fire to the crest of the hill. Although wounded in the encounter, he refused evacuation.
The enemy counterattack increased and a grenade landed in the midst of Cpl Champagne's team. Without hesitation, he seized the grenade and threw it at the enemy. It exploded as it left his hand and hurled him out of the trench. While thus exposed to enemy mortar fire, he was mortally wounded.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Cpl Champagne was awarded posthumously the Purple Heart Medal. He also held the Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars, and the United Nations Service Medal.
Corporal Champagne's Medal of Honor was presented to his 15-year-old brother by General R.H. Ridgely, Jr., during presentation ceremonies held at the Old Mountain Baseball Field in Wakefield, in July 1953.