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Gurke, Henry

Date of birth:
November 6th, 1922 (Neche/Noord Dakota, United States)
Date of death:
November 9th, 1943 (Bougainville, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea)
Buried on:
American War Grave Neche Union Cemetery
American (1776 - present, Republic)


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Second World War (1939-1945)
Private First Class (Lance Corporal)
Company M, 3rd Raider Battalion, 2nd Raider Regiment, I Marine Amphibious Corps, U.S. Marine Corps
"For extraordinary heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the 3d Marine Raider Battalion during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands area on 9 November 1943. While his platoon was engaged in the defense of a vital road block near Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville Island. Pfc. Gurke, in company with another Marine, was delivering a fierce stream of fire against the main vanguard of the Japanese. Concluding from the increasing ferocity of grenade barrages that the enemy was determined to annihilate their small, 2-man foxhole, he resorted to a bold and desperate measure for holding out despite the torrential hail of shells. When a Japanese grenade dropped squarely into the foxhole, Pfc. Gurke, mindful that his companion manned an automatic weapon of superior fire power and therefore could provide more effective resistance, thrust him roughly aside and flung his own body over the missile to smother the explosion. With unswerving devotion to duty and superb valor, Pfc. Gurke sacrificed himself in order that his comrade might live to carry on the fight. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country."
Awarded posthumously.
Medal of Honor - Navy/Marine Corps (MoH)


  • Photo 1: "Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 12756"
  • - Jordan, Kenneth N., Yesterday’s Heroes – 433 men of World War II awarded the Medal of Honor 1941-1945, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., USA, 1996
    - Aurthur, R.A. & Cohlmia, K., The Third Marine Division, The Battery Press, Nashville, USA, 1989
    - Clark, G.B., The Six Marine Divisions in the Pacific – Every Campaign of World War II, McFarland & Company, Jefferson, North Carolina, USA, 2006
    - U.S. Marine Corps History Division