When I hear recent news that men and women are being discharged from the United States military because they are not citizens of the United States, I must admit that I have mixed emotions. I can understand if they have given signs of not being truly faithful to the United States and to the service branch they are attached to. But the fact that a person is willing to serve and put their life on the line tells me they must love our country.
It makes me wonder if we are stepping back instead of moving forward.
During World War I and II, there was strong discrimination. Needing soldiers, men of different races and cultures were accepted but did not have the same treatment as soldiers who were born white in the United States. And one such area was with awards for bravery.
Today, I am going to talk about a man who was in such a position. Here are 8 cool facts about Sergeant William Shemin.
#1: He Was Born In New Jersey And Was White
Bill fit the definition of white and he was born in Bayonne, New Jersey in 1896.
So why would I talk about discrimination?
You see, Bill came from Jewish roots. And in the Army, antisemitism was prevalent. So Bill would not receive the same awards as others who were not from Jewish stock.
#2: He Enlisted
Bill had studied to be a park ranger and he had a job as one in Bayonne, New Jersey. When World War I started, he enlisted to serve in 1917. Bill was trained at Camp Greene, North Carolina.
Bill was made a rifleman and assigned to Company G, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Force.
#4: Second Battle Of The Marne
It was ferocious! From August 7th to the 9th, the trench battle between Germans and Shemin’s unit were bloody. As men were wounded, Bill jumped from the trench and facing machine gun fire, he drug wounded to safety. When those in command or senior to Bill were killed or wounded, Bill took control of the troops and continued to battle.
This is what Bill was trained to do.
Other posts you may enjoy:
- 4th Infantry Division – Campaigns & Decorations
- Camp Greene, North Carolina: Top 10 Cool Facts
- Major Charles Whittlesey: 10 Cool Facts
- Camp Upton New York: 10 Cool Facts
- Top 5 US WWI Generals
Sergeant Shemin had been hit with enemy shrapnel and one bullet had pierced his helmet and lodged behind his ear.
For his actions and wounds those days, Sergeant Shemin received:
- The Distinguished Service Cross
- A Purple Heart
But should he had got the top award? Here is what one of his superiors had said:
“With the most utter disregard for his own safety, (Shemin) sprang from his position in his platoon trench, dashed out across the open in full sight of the Germans, who opened and maintained a furious burst of machine gun and rifle fire.” Capt. Rupert Purdon
#7: After Service
After his gallant service, William Shemin went on to get a degree at the New York College of Forestry. He started a landscaping business in Bronx, New York and he raised 3 children.
#8: The Upgrade
In June of 2015, it was an honor that made 2 women smile from ear to ear.
Ina Bass and her sister, Elsie Shemin – Roth stood with President Barack Obama as he presented them with the prestigious Medal Of Honor in the name of their Father and Hero, Sergeant William Shemin.
Well deserved, I am glad also this man can look down and see his 2 daughter’s pride in his service.
I am happy to see that we are no longer focused on color, culture or nationality. We will treat each person with respect if they deserve it.
Thank you Sergeant Shemin for your service. And thanks to all who serve no matter your race or culture… The United States is free because of all who choose to serve.
About The Author
Greg Boudonck is a full time freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He served in the United States Army in the early 1980’s and enjoys writing about military subjects. You can see Greg’s books on Amazon by searching his name and you can also visit his website at Lancerlife.com.