July 26, 2011

James H. Fields

James H. Fields, Medal of Honor recipient, was born at Caddo, Texas, on June 16, 1920, the son of Mr. and Mrs. R. B. Fields. He graduated from Lamar High School in Houston and was drafted into the army in 1942. He was a member of the Tenth Armored Infantry, Fourth Armored Division, United States Army. First Lieutenant Fields was cited for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty" on September 27, 1944, at RĂ©chicourt, France. He led his depleted platoon in a counterattack on an enemy position and exposed himself to enemy fire while attending to one of his wounded men. He himself was wounded in the face by a bursting shell. Badly injured and rendered speechless he continued to direct his platoon in the attack by hand signals. Two enemy machine-guns had the platoon in a deadly crossfire. Fields left his foxhole, picked up a light machine gun, and, firing from the hip, knocked out both the enemy positions. His action inspired his men to increase the pressure of the attack. Only when the enemy was scattered did Fields allow himself to be evacuated to the command post. There he refused further evacuation until he could brief the battalion commander. Only eleven of the fifty-five men in his platoon survived the day's engagement. Fields's heroism was largely responsible for the repulse of the enemy forces and was an inspiration to the entire command. After the war he became an independent oil operator. He died at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Houston (now the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Houston) on June 17, 1970, and was survived by his wife, Mathilde, and four children. He was buried in the VA Houston National Cemetery.

Citation  
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, at Rechicourt, France. On 27 September 1944, during a sharp action with the enemy infantry and tank forces, 1st Lt. Fields personally led his platoon in a counterattack on the enemy position. Although his platoon had been seriously depleted, the zeal and fervor of his leadership was such as to inspire his small force to accomplish their mission in the face of overwhelming enemy opposition. Seeing that 1 of the men had been wounded, he left his slit trench and with complete disregard for his personal safety attended the wounded man and administered first aid. While returning to his slit trench he was seriously wounded by a shell burst, the fragments of which cut through his face and head, tearing his teeth, gums, and nasal passage. Although rendered speechless by his wounds, 1st Lt. Fields refused to be evacuated and continued to lead his platoon by the use of hand signals. On 1 occasion, when 2 enemy machineguns had a portion of his unit under deadly crossfire, he left his hole, wounded as he was, ran to a light machinegun, whose crew had been knocked out, picked up the gun, and fired it from his hip with such deadly accuracy that both the enemy gun positions were silenced. His action so impressed his men that they found new courage to take up the fire fight, increasing their firepower, and exposing themselves more than ever to harass the enemy with additional bazooka and machinegun fire. Only when his objective had been taken and the enemy scattered did 1st Lt. Fields consent to be evacuated to the battalion command post. At this point he refused to move further back until he had explained to his battalion commander by drawing on paper the position of his men and the disposition of the enemy forces. The dauntless and gallant heroism displayed by 1st Lt. Fields were largely responsible for the repulse of the enemy forces and contributed in a large measure to the successful capture of his battalion objective during this action. His eagerness and determination to close with the enemy and to destroy him was an inspiration to the entire command, and are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Armed Forces.

GPS Coordinates
29° 55.828, -095° 27.041

Section Hb
Houston National Cemetery
Houston

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