America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan

By James H. Willbanks | Go to book overview

Hendrix, James R.

Born: August 20, 1925

Died: November 14, 2002

Home State: Arkansas

Service: Army

Conflict: World War II

Age at Time of Award: 19

Born on August 20, 1925, in Lepanto, Arkansas, to a sharecropper, James Richard Hendrix quit school after the third grade to work in the cotton fields to help support his family. In 1944, at age 18, he was draft ed into the US Army. After basic training, he was sent to Europe as a private in the 53rd Armored Infantry Battalion of the 4th Armored Division. On December 26, 1944, with Patton’s 3rd Army at the Battle of the Bulge near Assenois, Belgium, Hendrix, now aged 19, performed heroic deeds during the battle that earned him the Medal of Honor.

After Allied forces landed on the beaches of France on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and began to push the Germans back, there was hope that the war would soon be over. However, the Germans launched a surprise attack on American and British forces in the Ardennes region of Belgium and Luxembourg in December, and the Battle of the Bulge ensued, halting the Allied advance and inflicting severe casualties.

Three days before Christmas, the 101st Airborne Division was surrounded by German forces in Bastogne, Belgium. Patton’s 4th Armored Division was ordered to break through to relieve the besieged paratroopers.

Hendrix’s unit was in the forward element as the 4th Armored Division advanced toward Bastogne. As his unit approached Assenois, Belgium, a few miles south of Bastogne, they came under enemy combined small arms and artillery fire. The unit stalled when it was blocked by a German Tiger tank blocking the road. Hendrix dismounted from his M16 half-track and disabled the tank with a bazooka.

Hendrix remounted his half-track as the column began to move again. However, his vehicle was hit by artillery fire. He jumped out and took shelter in a shell crater. However, he saw two German 88-mm field gun positions. With artillery shells landing all around him, he charged forward with his rifle. He poured fire into the two-gun position until the crews surrendered; in all, he killed 1 German soldier and captured 13 others.

Later in the same engagement, he again left his half-track to silence two German machine guns and rescue two wounded American soldiers. Still later in the battle, Hendrix faced enemy fire to rescue a fellow soldier trapped in a burning half-track and move him to safety. For these actions, Private Hendrix was nominated for the Medal of Honor by General Patton.

On August 23, 1945, Hendrix received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman at the White House. However, the day before the ceremony, an incident received national attention in the media. The Willard Hotel in Washington, an official host for Medal of Honor recipients arriving in the city for a mass awards ceremony at the White House, had refused the Hendrix family entry to its Crystal Room for dinner because they said his father was not wearing the required coat and tie.

Hendrix, by then a sergeant, was quoted by United Press as saying his father had, in fact, worn a coat and tie, but the family settled for dinner at a nearby cafeteria. The story of this incident brought many letters of support to the Hendrix family.

After the war, Hendrix remained in the Army and joined the paratroopers. In September 1949, he survived another harrowing experience when his main and reserve parachutes failed to open during a training jump at Fort Benning, Georgia. After falling more than 1,000 feet, he managed to land on his feet when he hit a newly plowed field and received only minor bruises. President Truman heard about the incident and contacted Hendrix, saying, “That was the second miracle of this world.” When Hendrix asked what was the first, the president replied, “That I ever got elected president.”

Hendrix volunteered for service again in the Korean War and in Vietnam. He retired from the US Army in 1965 as a master sergeant.

James Hendrix lived in Davenport, Florida, with his wife and four daughters. He died from throat cancer at the age of 77 on November 14, 2002, and is buried in Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell, Florida.

Debra J. Sheffer


Further Reading

Collier, Peter, and Nick Del Calzo. Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor beyond the Call of Duty. New York: Artisan, 2006.

The Congressional Medal of Honor: The Names, the Deeds. Forest Ranch, CA: Sharp & Dunnigan, 1984.

-139-

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America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Entries ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Preface xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • Adams, Lucian 1
  • Baca, John P. 2
  • Bacon, Nicky Daniel 4
  • Baker, Vernon 6
  • Baldwin, Frank D. 8
  • Ballard, Donald E. 11
  • Barfoot, Van T. 13
  • Barnum, Harvey C., Jr 14
  • Barrett, Carlton W. 16
  • Basilone, John 18
  • Benavidez, Roy P. 20
  • Birkhimer, William E. 22
  • Blake, Robert 24
  • Bleak, David B. 25
  • Boyington, Gregory 27
  • Brady, Patrick Henry 29
  • Britt, Maurice L. 30
  • Brown, Bobbie E. 32
  • Bucha, Paul William 34
  • Burke, Lloyd L. 36
  • Bush, Robert Eugene 38
  • Butler, Smedley Darlington 40
  • Butterfield, Daniel 42
  • Cafferata, Hector a., Jr 43
  • Carney, William H. 45
  • Cavaiani, Jon R. 48
  • Chamberlain, Joshua L. 49
  • Childers, Ernest 51
  • Cody, William F. 53
  • Cohn, Abraham 55
  • Cole, Robert G. 57
  • Craft, Clarence B. 59
  • Crandall, Bruce P. 61
  • Custer, Thomas W. 63
  • Dahlgren, John Olof 65
  • Daly, Daniel Joseph 67
  • Davila, Rudolph B. 69
  • Davis, Charles W. 70
  • Davis, Raymond G. 73
  • Davis, Sammy L. 74
  • Day, George E. 76
  • Dean, William F. 78
  • Deblanc, Jefferson Joseph 79
  • Dix, Drew Dennis 81
  • Donlon, Roger Hugh C. 84
  • Donovan, William Joseph 85
  • Doolittle, James H. 87
  • Doss, Desmond T. 88
  • Dunham, Jason L. 90
  • Dunham, Russell E. 91
  • Dyess, Aquilla James 93
  • Ehlers, Walter D. 96
  • Evans, Ernest Edwin 98
  • Faith, Don C., Jr 100
  • Finn, John William 102
  • Fletcher, Frank Jack 104
  • Fluckey, Eugene Bennett 105
  • Foley, Robert F. 107
  • Foss, Joseph Jacob 109
  • Fox, John Robert 112
  • Freeman, Ed W. 113
  • Funston, Frederick 115
  • Galer, Robert Edward 117
  • García, Macario 119
  • Gonsalves, Harold 121
  • Gonzalez, Alfredo 123
  • Gordon, Gary I. 125
  • Hagemeister, Charles Chris 126
  • Harmon, Roy W. 128
  • Harrell, William George 130
  • Hatch, John P. 131
  • Hayashi, Shizuya 133
  • Hayes, Webb C. 134
  • Heard, John W. 137
  • Hendrix, James R. 139
  • Hernández, Rodolfo P. 140
  • Herrera, Silvestre S. 142
  • Hooper, Joe R. 144
  • Howard, Oliver O. 146
  • Howard, Robert L. 148
  • Inouye, Daniel K. 150
  • Irwin, Bernard J. D. 154
  • Izac, Edouard Victor Michel 155
  • Jackson, Joe M. 158
  • Jacobs, Jack H. 160
  • Joel, Lawrence 162
  • Kaufman, Benjamin 164
  • Keeble, Woodrow W. 166
  • Kelly, Charles E. 167
  • Kerrey, Joseph R. 169
  • Kisters, Gerry H. 171
  • Kouma, Ernest R. 173
  • Lang, George C. 175
  • Lemon, Peter C. 177
  • Levitow, John L. 178
  • Liteky, Angelo J. 181
  • Livingston, James E. 182
  • Lopez, Jose M. 184
  • Lucas, Jacklyn Harold 186
  • Luke, Frank, Jr 189
  • Mabry, George L., Jr 191
  • Macarthur, Arthur, Jr 193
  • Macarthur, Douglas 195
  • Mackie, John F. 198
  • Mallon, George H. 200
  • Marm, Walter Joseph, Jr 201
  • Martinez, Joe P. 203
  • McCool, Richard Miles, Jr 204
  • McGinnis, Ross A. 206
  • McGinty, John J., III 207
  • McKinney, John R. 209
  • Merli, Gino J. 211
  • Miles, L. Wardlaw 213
  • Miles, Nelson A. 214
  • Millett, Lewis L. 218
  • Miyamura, Hiroshi H. 220
  • Mize, Ola L. 223
  • Moffett, William A. 225
  • Monsoor, Michael A. 226
  • Monti, Jared C. 227
  • Munemori, Sadao S. 229
  • Munro, Douglas Albert 231
  • Murphy, Audie L. 233
  • Murphy, Michael P. 235
  • Murphy, Raymond G. 236
  • Norris, Thomas R. 238
  • Novosel, Michael J. 240
  • O’Hare, Edward Henry 243
  • O’Kane, Richard Hetherington 245
  • Okubo, James K. 246
  • Olive, Milton L., III 248
  • O’Neill, Richard W. 249
  • Page, John U. D. 251
  • Paige, Mitchell 254
  • Parker, Samuel I. 256
  • Pennypacker, Galusha 258
  • Penry, Richard A. 260
  • Pitsenbarger, William H. 262
  • Pittman, John A. 264
  • Pittman, Richard A. 265
  • Pope, Everett Parker 267
  • Pope, Thomas A. 269
  • Rascon, Alfred V. 271
  • Ray, Ronald Eric 273
  • Red Cloud, Mitchell, Jr 275
  • Rickenbacker, Edward V. 278
  • Roberts, Gordon R. 279
  • Rocco, Louis R. 281
  • Rodriguez, Joseph C. 283
  • Roosevelt, Theodore 285
  • Rosser, Ronald E. 287
  • Rubin, Tibor 289
  • Rudolph, Donald E. 291
  • Ruiz, Alejandro R. Renteria 293
  • Sakato, George T. 294
  • Salomon, Ben L. 296
  • Sandlin, Willie 298
  • Sasser, Clarence Eugene 300
  • Schofield, John M. 302
  • Shafter, William R. 303
  • Shoup, David Monroe 305
  • Shughart, Randall D. 307
  • Sickles, Daniel E. 310
  • Sijan, Lance P. 312
  • Simanek, Robert E. 313
  • Sitter, Carl L. 315
  • Smith, Andrew Jackson 317
  • Smith, Paul R. 319
  • Spurrier, Junior J. 320
  • Stockdale, James B. 322
  • Stone, James L. 324
  • Stowers, Freddie 326
  • Thornton, Michael Edwin 327
  • Thorsness, Leo K. 329
  • Titus, Calvin Pearl 332
  • Turner, George B. 333
  • Urban, Matt 335
  • Vandegrift, Alexander Archer 337
  • Vargas, Jay R. 339
  • Versace, Humbert R. 341
  • Wahlen, George Edward 343
  • Wai, Francis B. 345
  • Wainwright, Jonathan M. 347
  • Walker, Dr. Mary E. 349
  • Ware, Keith L. 350
  • Warren, Francis E. 352
  • Watson, George 353
  • Watters, Charles Joseph 354
  • Webb, Alexander S. 358
  • Wetzel, Gary George 360
  • Whiteley, Eli 362
  • Whittington, Hulon B. 363
  • Williams, Hershel Woodrow 365
  • Wilson, Louis Hugh, Jr. 367
  • Wood, Leonard 369
  • Woodfill, Samuel 372
  • York, Alvin C. 373
  • Young, Rodger W. 375
  • Zabitosky, Fred William 377
  • Zeamer, Jay, Jr. 379
  • Recipients of the Medal of Honor 381
  • Double Award Recipients 487
  • Medals of Honor Awarded by Conflict and Service 489
  • Bibliography 493
  • Index 511
  • About the Editor 529
  • Contributors 531
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