BELOW IS THE NARRATIVE OF MR. TOLBERT’S ACTIONS THAT JUSTIFY THE MEDAL OF HONOR!
NARRATIVE OF EVENTS AND COMBAT ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO THE ACT OF HEROISM BY MR. JACK TOLBERT FOR WHICH HE RECEIVED THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS (DSC). BASED ON THE FACTS OF THIS ACTION, WE NOW RESPECTFULLY REQUEST THAT HIS DSC BE UP-GRADED TO THE “Medal of Honor.”
This interview took place on Tuesday 27 February 2001 concerning the Combat Actions and Extraordinary Heroism of Sergeant First Class Jack P. Tolbert, RA 19296161, on 10 and 11 June 1953 near Kumhwa Korea.
The 65th Infantry Regiment had been fighting a holding battle with the Chinese Communists and Jack’s unit, 2d Squad, 1st Platoon, B Company, 65th Regimental Combat Team, 3d Division, 8th Army Corps was fighting in a Defensive position in the Central part of Korea near Outpost Harry.
The Regimental Combat Team had been fighting this battle for 2 months and had sustained heavy casualties. However, they had decimated the Chinese during their suicidal attacks and had regrouped and dug more defensive positions.
Jack’s unit was the first line of defense and Jack’s squad was the lead squad in the Division forward.
Jack was the 2nd squad leader and had checked out all defensive positions, forward night ambushes and outposts, and made ammunition checks and other checks to insure his men were prepared for a full frontal attack by the Chinese.
Jack had warned his men that he had a bad feeling about what might be coming. Intelligence was rife with reports of a large enemy force preparing to attack the 65th Lines.
The forward positions Jack’s squad occupied were a series of trenches connecting to fighting positions and small bunkers with over head cover to try to give some protection to the soldiers from the artillery and mortar barrages that were pounding them incessantly.
Jack checked his men again as night fell and made sure they were ready for any attack the Chinese may launch. Jack knew it was his Squad’s job to be the first line of defense and to report any enemy activity or movement to his Company Commander immediately.
The attack started after midnight and continued until the Chinese were in the forward trenches and Jack’s men were literally fighting Hand to Hand Combat to stay alive.
Grenades started to fly and just as Jack shot the Chinese in front of him he lobbed a grenade into Jack’s fighting position. Without hesitation, and with great Valor knowing his life would end at that moment, he threw his body on the grenade to save the lives of his squad members.
Jack miraculously survived. He was knocked unconscious and both his legs were blown off. When he awoke he was alone and had trouble seeing because of the blast. He immediately grabbed for his radio to report back to the Regiment on what had been happening, but instead of picking up his radio handset he picked up his boot. Incredibly his boot had his foot and part of his leg in it. He laid it down and coolly picked up the hand set to the radio and started reporting the current conditions of the front lines, even though he was bleeding to death and seriously wounded. He continued to report what he had seen and what he had experienced and told his superiors that he had been severely wounded. Then he heard the Chinese talking and killing the wounded as they moved down the trenches. Jack played dead and waited for them to come and strip his body as the Chinese did to all dead Americans. He said his greatest fear was that they would bayonet him. He passes out again and when he woke the Chinese had taken his weapon and radio and beaten him with their rifle butts. Jack related the rifle butt story based on what he felt after he regained consciousness and the additional wounds inflicted by the Chinese while he lay unconscious.
Both of Jack’s legs had been blown off and his right arm was hanging by threads. Even though he was dying he continued to crawl looking for something to fight with or communicate with. At that point one of the comrades that had been with him when he covered the Grenade with his body returned to help Jack. He related to Jack that he was partially unconscious after the blast and that two Chinese captured him and took him toward their lines to be picked up by their unit. He then attacked and killed both enemy soldiers with his bare hands. He returned to Jack with another man and carried Jack to a rear area for medivac to Japan. Jack spent the next 3 month in the Hospital.
Jack’s unit had just fought the “Siege of Outpost Harry”. The entire 74th Chinese Division had assaulted the front lines of the 65th Regimental Combat Team. The Regiment sustained 174 KIA and 824 wounded. The Chinese lost 4200 killed at the hands of the 65th.
Jack lost his legs, but now he had to fight the US Army to stop them from taking his right arm off. Again, miraculously Jack was able to strengthen his arm enough to save it. He literally spent months exercising it using his own therapy. Eventually he was successful and at his first reunion with his old Squad buddies, they said they were amazed that he still had his right arm. They said nothing of his legs.
Jack was given the Purple Heart for his wounds and Awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for his incredible Heroism.
This Statement was witnessed by:
Major John E. Cleckner Sr. U.S. Army Special Forces Retired
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