Honorable Immigrants: World War I

There are those who state that anyone who wears the highest award that can be given to United States service members is a Medal of Honor “winner.” Let me first tell you that these people were winners long before they were awarded that prestigious medal. Just stepping into the position of serving our nation as a United States service member makes them a winner in my book.

It takes a special breed of person to go above and beyond in their line of duty to the extent of being nominated to receive the Medal of Honor. I salute all those who have had that distinction.

What truly moves me is when I hear of the Medal of Honor being awarded to a person who was not even born in the United States. When an immigrant is awarded the Medal of Honor, it just seems even extra special. After all, it would be understandable if their loyalties were with the country they came from. So to go above and beyond for the U.S., it just gives me that spine tingle.

In today’s post, I am going to go through immigrants who were awarded the Medal of Honor from World War I.

Be sure and stay with us here at Part Time Commander, as I will be showing more on this subject in upcoming posts.

World War I Medal of Honor Immigrants

Sergeant Louis Cukela (1888-1956)

Cukela was born in Croatia. In 1913, he and his brother traveled to the United States seeking a better life. They settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Just 1 year later, Cukela enlisted in the United States Army. He attained the rank of Corporal and was honorably discharged in 1916.

In 1917, World War I broke out and Louis decided to enlist as a United States Marine. With the 5

For this action, Cukela was awarded 2 Medals of Honor. One from the Army and the other from the Navy.

PFC George Dilboy (1896-1918)

Dilboy is a translation from a Greek name. George was born in a Greek settlement in Alatsata, Turkey. In 1908, George’s father came to the United States. He settled in Somerville, Massachusetts, and George joined him in 1910. But when Greece entered the 1

George came back to Massachusetts. He went to school, and volunteered for the U.S. Army in the Mexican Border Wars. He was honorably discharged, but soon after, the U.S. entered World War I and George reenlisted. Being sent to France, George was a soldier of soldiers. During the Aisne-Marne counteroffensive, George lost his life. He fought, killing several enemies until his last breath.

There are several memorials to Dilboy in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Sergeant Matej Kocak (1882-1918)

Matej was born in Hungary which is now known as Slovakia. In 1906, Matej made his way across the ocean to the U.S. In 1907, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He was discharged in 1911, but immediately reenlisted.

Matej served in various locations. He was in Vera Cruz, Mexico. He also served in the Dominican Republic. In 1917, Matej was deployed to France and the Great War. It was during an attack the Marines made near Soissons, France that Matej performed over and above his duty.

Matej went unprotected toward German gun nests. He used his bayonet to drive off the gun crew, he captured the gun placement. Matej then organized some French soldiers to attack another gun placement, capturing it.

For these actions, Matej was awarded 2 Medals of Honor. One from the Army and the other from the Navy.

Just a few months later, Sergeant Kocak was killed in other action.

Sergeant Aleksa Mandušić (1887-1959)

No one could pronounce his name, so he was better known as Jake Allex. Born in Serbia, Aleksa ended up in Chicago, Illinois where he enlisted in the U.S. Army.

At Chipilly Ridge, France, Aleksa’s platoon was under a heavy attack. He was then a corporal and he took command since the majority of leaders had been killed or injured. He led the soldiers forward to capture a gun nest. He killed 5 German soldiers using his bayonet. When it broke, he used the butt of his rifle to capture 15 German soldiers.

Sergeant Reider Waaler (1894-1979)

Not a lot is known about Reider, but we do know he was born in Norway and emigrated to the United States. He enlisted in the U.S. Army.

It was near Ronssoy, France that Reider crawled to a burning British tank and rescued all who were inside. He did this while German forces were firing machine guns at him. Even though the tank was full of ammunition that could explode, Reider risked his life to save lives.

Sergeant John Latham (1888-1975)

John was born in Windermere, England, but came to the United States. He joined the United States Army in New Jersey. On September 29th, 1918, John along with 2 other American soldiers were in an extreme battle near Le Catelet, France. The brave men left their cover to rescue a crew in a disabled tank. One of the soldiers was killed, but John and Sergeant Alan Eggers got to the crew and defended them for hours until the night when they carried them to safety.

John, Eggers and the soldier who was killed, Corporal Thomas O’Shea all were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions.

PFC Michael Valente (1895-1976)

Valente immigrated to the United States from his birthplace of Cassino, Italy. In 1917, Michael joined the U.S. Army in New York. Deployed to France, his unit was involved in heavy warfare near Ronssoy, France. German machine guns seemed to have them pinned down, but Valente and another soldier moved in and silenced the 2 gun nests. They killed 5 German soldiers and captured 21 others. Valente was wounded in the process.

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Thompson (1871-1928)

Thompson came to the U.S. from Ireland. He entered Geneva College where he was a sport’s star. In 1917, he entered the Army. It was near Apremont, France where then Major Thompson’s battalion was being attacked by 2 German regiments. Thompson led his soldiers into victory. At one point he showed his gallantry by rushing in and destroying anti-tank gun placements.

1st Sergeant Johannes Anderson (1887-1950)

Born in Finland, Anderson made his way to Chicago, Illinois where he joined the U.S. Army. While fighting in France, Anderson volunteered to flank the enemy’s gun placements. He singlehandedly killed the gun crew and captured 23 German soldiers.

Private Berger Loman (1886-1968)

Berger was born in Norway. When he immigrated to the United States, he joined the United States Army. In France, Berger rushed a German machine gun nest. He killed all the Germans in the nest and used the machine gun to kill many more retreating Germans.

Final Thoughts

It just moves me when a person from another country would feel the need to help defend the U.S. to the extent of risking their lives in undying devotion. These men showed that resolve.

I hope you will take a moment and give thanks for these, and many more soldiers who went far beyond their duty to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Please leave your comments below. Thank you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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