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

By James H. Willbanks | Go to book overview

Lemon, Peter C.

Born: June 5, 1950

Died:

Home State: Michigan

Service: Army

Conflict: Vietnam War

Age at Time of Award: 19

Born in Toronto, Canada, on June 5, 1950, Peter C. Lemon became a US citizen at the age of 12. In February 1969, he enlisted in the US Army. Upon assignment to South Vietnam, Lemon volunteered to go through reconnaissance training, and, after completion of that training, he joined the 1st Infantry Division’s Ranger company. Soon afterward, Lemon was transferred to Ranger Company E (RECON) in the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry of the 1st Calvary Division. This unit conducted long-range reconnaissance and raids from their base in Tay Ninh Province into enemy-held territory.

On April 1, 1970, Lemon and his 18-man unit returned to Fire Support Base Illingworth, 50 miles northwest of Saigon. Approximately 300 to 400 members of the North Vietnamese Army attacked Killingworth that night. As the battle unfolded, Lemon moved along the perimeter and began shooting at the advancing enemy. The commanding officer, Lt. Greg Peters, ordered Lemon and a fellow soldier to take over an abandoned.50 caliber machine gun to better defend their position. However, the gun failed, and North Vietnamese mortar shells wounded Lemon and killed his fellow soldier. Lemon used his rifle to engage the enemy until the rifle too malfunctioned, and then he used hand grenades to fend off the enemy attackers. After eliminating all but one of the enemy soldiers in his assigned sector, he pursued and dispatched the remaining enemy in hand-to-hand combat. When a comrade was wounded, Lemon disregarded incoming fire to carry the fallen soldier to the aid station. He returned to his fighting position but was wounded a second time by enemy fire. Nevertheless, he continued to fight as the North Vietnamese Army troops were very near to overrunning the American position. Spotting a North Vietnamese rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) gunner, Lemon, although wounded a third time, climbed to the top of the defensive berm in an exposed position and successfully destroyed the gunner’s position with an M-60 machine gun. Lemon, now wounded in his leg, neck, and head, continued to fight until he collapsed from his multiple wounds and exhaustion. After regaining consciousness at the aid station, he refused medical evacuation until his more seriously wounded comrades had been evacuated.

Lemon was finally evacuated that evening and spent a month in the hospital recovering. He was later reassigned to a support unit. Lemon received the Combat Infantryman Badge, two Bronze Stars, two Air Medals, the Army Commendation Medal, and a Purple Heart. On December 4, 1970, Sergeant Lemon was honorably discharged and returned to Michigan.

When word was received the following spring that Lemon was to receive the Medal of Honor, he seriously considered turning down the medal, maintaining that there had been 18 heroes that night at the fire base, 3 of whom had died. However, the Army convinced Lemon to accept the award. On June 15, 1971, 10 days after his 21st birthday, Lemon was presented the Medal of Honor by President Richard M. Nixon in a White House ceremony. Upon the presentation of the award, Lemon dedicated the honor to his unit and the three comrades he had lost in battle—Casey Waller, Nathan Mann, and Brent Street.

In 1976, Lemon entered Colorado State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in speech and a master’s in business administration. He continues to be active in sharing his experiences as a motivational speaker, sculptor, and successful businessman. Lemon owned and operated the American Hospitality Association, an insurance organization, and Darnell-Lemon, Inc., a contracting firm. As of 2010 he is the president and owner of Lemco Enterprises, Inc., where he is a speaker, author, and executive film producer.

In March 1997, Lemon’s book Beyond the Medal: A Journey from Their Hearts to Yours was published. It details the stories and accounts of other Medal of Honor recipients and their experiences in the service and life after. Over 32,000 copies of his book were donated to middle and high schools throughout the United States. He also was the executive producer of the PBS documentary Beyond the Medal of Honor.

On May 1, 2009, President Barack Obama presented Lemon, the only Canadianborn recipient of the Medal of Honor, with the Outstanding American by Choice award. This award is given by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services to honor a naturalized US citizen who has attained civic and professional achievements, as well as demonstrated exceptional commitment to the nation.

Peter Lemon continues to travel the country, inspiring enthusiasm and patriotism and sharing his humor and stories. As of 2010 he resides in Colorado and has three children.

Denise M. Carlin


Further Reading

Lemon, Peter C. Beyond the Medal: A Journey from Their Hearts to Yours. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1997.

Tillman, Barrett. Heroes: U.S. Army Medal of Honor Recipients. New York: Berkley Caliber, 2006.

-177-

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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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