Henry A Commiskey Sr

Henry A Commiskey Sr

220 Commiskey.jpg

Henry was born on the 10th of January, 1927, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he grew up and went to Sacred Heart for school. He worked for the Illinois Central Railroad as a brakeman as a sixteen year old and two days after he turned seventeen, Henry enlisted in the US Marine Corps. After recruit training in San Diego, he was transferred to Hawaii before deploying to Japan during World War 2. Henry was wounded during action at Iwo Jima before becoming a drill instructor at Recruit Depot Parris Island. After being enlisted for five years, Henry was a Staff Sergeant when he was accepted into officer training. He completed training in June of 1950 and went on to teach tactics at Quantico, Virginia.

Henry was then deployed to Korea in August of 1950 with the 1st Marine Regiment and it was his actions near the outskirts of Seoul that would earn him the Medal of Honor. The citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Platoon Leader in Company C, First Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces near Yongdungp'o, Korea, on 20 September 1950. Directed to attack hostile forces well dug in on Hill 85, First Lieutenant Commiskey, then Second Lieutenant, spearheaded the assault, charging up the steep slopes on the run. Coolly disregarding the heavy enemy machine-gun and small-arms fire, he plunged on well forward of the rest of his platoon and was the first man to reach the crest of the objective. Armed only with a pistol, he jumped into a hostile machine-gun emplacement occupied by five enemy troops and quickly disposed of four of the soldiers with his automatic pistol. Grappling with the fifth, First Lieutenant Commiskey knocked him to the ground and held him until he could obtain a weapon from another member of his platoon and kill the last of the enemy gun crew. Continuing his bold assault, he moved to the next emplacement, killed two or more of the enemy and then led his platoon toward the rear nose of the hill to rout the remainder of the enemy. His valiant leadership and courageous fighting spirit served to inspire the men of his company to heroic endeavor in seizing the objective and reflect the highest credit upon First Lieutenant Commiskey and the United States Naval Service.

Three months after his actions, Henry was wounded and sent back to the States for treatment at the Naval Hospital in Pensacola. He was soon promoted to First Lieutenant and was stationed at the Naval Air Rocket Test Station at Lake Denmark, New Jersey. On the 1st of August, 1951, Henry received the Medal of Honor from President Truman in a ceremony at the White House and the following month, became a Student Naval Aviator at Naval Air Station. By July of 1953, he received his wings and was promoted to Captain and the following year he returned to Korea as a pilot.

Henry returned to the States in September 1954 and he joined the 1stMarine Division and was a company commander, an assistant S-3, and a division reenlistment officer. From September 1956 until July of 1959, he was the officer in charge of the Recruiting Station for the 6thMarine Corps Reserve and Recruitment District in Jackson, Mississippi. Henry was then promoted to Major and completed the Junior Course in Quantico and then served as an instructor, company commander, and executive officer of The Basic School. He was a recruiter prior to his retirement after twenty-two years of service.

Moving to Meridian, Mississippi, Henry's health had deteriorated after the death of his father in 1969. On the 16th of August, 1971, he had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was cremated and his son scattered his ashes over the Pacific Ocean and Henry Alfred Commiskey Sr has a cenotaph in the Highland Cemetery in his hometown of Hattiesburg, Mississippi: section 11, lot 40.

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William R Jecelin

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