Captain Carlton Robert Rouh, who earned a field commission and the Silver Star Medal for gallantry on Guadalcanal, was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry in risking his life to save two comrades on Peleliu Island, 15 September 1944.
First Lieutenant Rouh had been moving his mortar platoon near the top of a small coral ridge preparatory to digging in for the night, according to a field dispatch from SSgt James F. Moser, Jr., a Marine Corps Combat Correspondent. 1stLt Rouh decided to inspect an apparently empty Japanese dugout before permitting his men to utilize it.
A few minutes before, a flame-throwing squad had blasted fire into the position. Near the entrance two of the enemy lay dead. 1stLt Rouh could hear nothing. He stepped over the pair, and into the dark interior, his carbine ready. Creeping along the wall, he could see stores of supplies. He saw no life.
Suddenly a shot rang out, hitting the lieutenant in the left side. He stumbled back to his men outside. Several Japanese followed, throwing grenades. Fragments filled the air. One grenade landed close to the lieutenant and two of his men. There was no escape, for the Japanese had held it too long to be thrown back.
Despite his weakened condition, 1stLt Rouh shoved his two comrades to the ground to save them from flying fragments. He dropped his carbine and dove for the grenade. He was down on his elbows and one knee when the grenade exploded. His abdomen and chest caught the blast, and he sank to the ground. None of his men were hit.
Still conscious, 1stLt Rouh could half hear and see the rest of the fight. Tommy-guns spurted death at the Japanese. One of his men stood over him. Soon it was all over --- and his Marines had their cover for the night.
First Lieutenant Rouh's body was pock-marked by the grenade blast. One steel fragment had passed through his left lung and lodged near his heart. Other fragments sprayed his chest, left side and left arm.
Still under enemy artillery and mortar fire, he was given first aid by a passing doctor, and was carried back to an evacuation point. "That was a miserable trip back," he said. "I thought they would get all the men with me. But somehow we made it."
Captain Rouh enlisted as a private one month after Pearl Harbor, and fought in three Pacific campaigns. At Guadalcanal, then a private, he earned the Silver Star Medal "for carrying wounded out under fire until wounded himself." Moreover, "for outstanding leadership and initiative in combat", he was given a field commission as a second lieutenant while at a rest camp in Australia. He commanded a machine gun platoon during the New Britain campaign.
Following his evacuation from Peleliu, he was hospitalized, and later honorably retired from active duty. He was promoted to captain in the Reserves upon his retirement. He died in December 1977 in Camden, New Jersey.
World War II 1941-1945 Medal of Honor