Colonel Carl Leonard Sitter, who as a captain, earned the Medal of Honor for valiant leadership during a two-day battle at Hagaru-ri, Korea.
In the bitter fighting which came as the Chinese Communists were surrounding U.N. forces near the Chosin Reservoir in November 1950, Capt Sitter was wounded by hand grenades but continued to lead his men until he repulsed a counterattack.
He was presented the Nation’s highest military decoration by President Harry S. Truman during ceremonies at the White House, 29 October 1951, exactly 11 months after the acts for which he was cited.
An enlisted man for two years, he was awarded a field commission during World War II. He was wounded twice in the Pacific campaigns and earned the Silver Star Medal on Guam.
Born 2 December 1922, in Syracuse, Missouri, Carl Leonard Sitter attended public schools in Pueblo, Colorado. Upon graduating from Pueblo’s Central High School, he enlisted in the Marine Corps on 22 June 1940. After eight months duty in Iceland, he was ordered to the Pacific area. He was serving as a corporal in the Wallis Islands when, on 12 December 1942, he was given a field commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve. He later received a regular commission.
First Lieutenant Sitter saw combat on Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands, and Guam in the Marianas. He was first wounded on 20 February 1944 on Eniwetok, but went back into action almost immediately.
He was wounded again the following July on Guam, during the action in which he earned the Silver Star Medal. The situation was similar, though on a smaller scale, to the one in which he earned the Medal of Honor: he fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire to lead his rifle platoon, and when wounded refused to be evacuated until his mission was accomplished.
Following his return to the United States, he served at San Diego; Quantico, Virginia; the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard; the Panama Canal Zone; Key West, Florida; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; and Camp Pendleton, California. In August 1950, he joined the 1st Marine Division in Korea upon the outbreak of hostilities there.
Prior to the campaign at Hagaru-ri in which he earned the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart, Capt Sitter participated in the Inchon landing. He remained in Korea until February 1951 then returned to the United States. While serving as an instructor at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, he was promoted to major in May 1951 and later completed the Junior Course.
Assigned to the 2d Marine Division in June 1954, he served as a battalion executive officer and battalion commanding officer, respectively. He later served as Regimental S-3 of the division’s 6th Marines. In November 1956, he began a three-year assignment as Inspector-Instructor, 11th Infantry Battalion, USMCR, Cleveland, Ohio. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in March 1957.
From November 1959 to May 1960, LtCol Sitter was a student at the United Kingdom Joint Services Staff College, Latimer, Buckinghamshire, England. Remaining in England, he then served for three years as Marine Representative to the Director, Naval Security Group, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe, in London. While stationed there, he completed the requirements for his BA degree at the University of Maryland’s European Division.
In July 1963, LtCol Sitter was transferred to the Far East, where he assumed duty as Assistant G-3, 3d Marine Division, until September 1964. While serving there, he was promoted to colonel in August 1964. Upon his return to the United States, he became Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, and, later, Commanding Officer, Headquarters and Service Battalion at the Recruit Depot. In September 1966, he became Chief of Staff, Marine Corps Base, Twentynine Palms, California. From November 1967 until June 1968, he served as Chief of Staff, Force Troops, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. Col Sitter then became the Director of Installation Services, Defense General Supply Center, Richmond, Virginia. He retired from active duty on 30 June 1970.
Colonel Sitter died 4 April 2000 in Richmond, Virginia, at the age of 77. He was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.
Colonel Sitter’s medals and decorations include: the Medal of Honor; the Silver Star Medal; the Legion of Merit; the Purple Heart with two Gold Stars in lieu of second and third awards; two Presidential Unit Citations; two Navy Unit Commendations; the Good Conduct Medal; the American Defense Service Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze stars; the American Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star; the Korean Service Medal with four bronze stars; the United Nations Service Medal; the Chungmu Medal with silver star from the Republic of Korea; and two Korean Presidential Unit Citations.
Korean War Medal of Honor