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This Day in History: Mack Jordan's bravery in Korea

On this day in 1951, a hero engages in an action that would earn him the Medal of Honor. Pfc. Mack Jordan was just 22 years old when his “unflinching courage” stunned his fellow soldiers. He’d then been serving in Korea for just a few months.

The Korean War has been called “the Forgotten War.” Many Americans are used to hearing about World War II and the Vietnam War, but they know very little about the conflict sandwiched in the middle.

The heroes of that war thus receive relatively little attention—and Jordan is among these nearly forgotten heroes.

On November 15, 1951, Jordan was serving as a squad leader in the third platoon of company K. His squad was to take the lead in taking Hill 533, near Kumsong, Korea, from the enemy. The attack began at about 1:00 a.m.

“The platoon had reached a point approximately half way up the hill when the enemy opened up with a murderous volley of small arms and automatic weapons fire,” 2nd Lt. E.F. Sheehan described, “and a barrage of hand grenades. The platoon was forced to withdraw and reorganize.”

Except Jordan didn’t withdraw with everyone else. On his own initiative, he crawled forward toward one of the enemy machine gun emplacements. He threw in several grenades, then rushed the position.

“He knocked out the machine gun,” Sheehan said, “and killed five enemy soldiers. The remaining enemy fled to new positions about 20 yards above Jordan.”

Jordan could have retreated to safety, but he didn’t. He moved forward again, intending to take out the enemy further up the hill. Just then, the enemy rolled a satchel charge down the hill. It hit Jordan hard, blowing off both of his legs.

From all accounts, Jordan barely flinched. Instead, he picked up his weapons and continued to deliver deadly fire from where he lay on the ground. “By this time,” Shaheen concludes, “the rest of the platoon had reached his position and found several enemy dead lying in the trench beside him.”

Jordan was administered first aid and carried off the field of battle. It was too late, though. His wounds proved mortal.

Jordan’s bravery had saved his fellow soldiers, and a newspaper back home would soon describe him as a “Mississippi soldier who fought to the death to protect the withdrawal of his comrades from a mist shrouded hill in Korea.”

Perhaps today is a good day to remember Jordan and all the other too-often forgotten heroes of the Korean War.

RIP, Pfc. Jordan.

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