Gehrke, Wilbur J.

Date of birth:
(Cosby/North Dakota, United States)
Nationality:
American (1776 - present, Republic)

Biography

Service number: 0-25086.

Wilbur J. Gehrke was raised on a farm outside Crosby, North Dakota, and was a star football player at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. He graduated in 1939.

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
First Lieutenant
Unit:
U.S. Marine Corps Reserve
Action:
"The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Wilbur J. Gehrke (0-25086), First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism as Leader of a Machine Gun Platoon of Company A, First Battalion, Twenty-Ninth Marines, SIXTH Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, 17 May 1945. Reconnoitering for machine-gun positions on the front lines during a coordinated attack on a heavily defended Japanese hill in the Naha-Shuri sector, First Lieutenant Gehrke realized the necessity of securing a vital terrain feature to the front in order for our attack to succeed and, proceeding alone ahead of our own lines in the face of hostile mortar, machine-gun and sniper fire, selected a route of approach to the enemy-held crest. Finding the ranks disorganized from the heavy hostile fire upon his return, he unhesitatingly took charge of several men and, gallantly assaulting the ridge, succeeded in holding this almost untenable position. When his company was ordered to withdraw, he again voluntarily exposed himself in a fire-swept area in order to administer first aid to a severely wounded man, subsequently carrying him to the safety of our lines. His indomitable fighting spirit and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
Navy Cross

Sources

  • - Sterner C.D., Recipients of The Navy Cross, 1916 - Present
    - Home of Heroes