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William Shemin
Born (1896-10-14)October 14, 1896
Died August 15, 1973(1973-08-15) (aged 76)
Place of birth Bayonne, New Jersey
Place of death New York
Place of burial Baron Hirsch Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1917 - 1919
Rank Sergeant
Unit Company G, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division
Battles/wars

World War I

Awards
  • Purple Heart
  • Distinguished Service Cross
  • Medal of Honor

William Shemin (October 14, 1896 – August 15, 1973) was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army during World War I. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in action in Vesle River, near Bazoches, France. On June 2, 2015, Elsie Shemin-Roth accepted the nation's highest military award for valor on behalf of her father from President Barack Obama at the White House. Shemin was assigned to Company G, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Force.

Biography[edit | edit source]

William Shemin was born in Bayonne, New Jersey. During his teenage years, he played semi-pro baseball. He graduated from the New York State Ranger School in 1914, and went on to work as a forester in Bayonne. Shemin enlisted in the Army, October 2, 1917. Upon completion of basic training at Camp Greene, North Carolina, he was assigned as a rifleman to Company G, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces, in France

Shemin participated in the Aisne-Marne Offensive, where he took shrapnel and was wounded by a machine gun bullet that pierced his helmet and was lodged behind his left ear. Following his injuries, Shemin was hospitalized for three months and later received light duty as part of the Army occupation in Germany and Belgium until he completed his tour. Shemin received the Purple Heart for his injuries during combat. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for battlefield valor in December 19, 1919.

While serving as a rifleman from August 7–9, 1918, Shemin left the cover of his platoon's trench and crossed open space, repeatedly exposing himself to heavy machine gun and rifle fire to rescue the wounded. After officers and senior non-commissioned officers had become casualties, Shemin took command of the platoon and displayed great initiative under fire, until he was wounded on August 9.

Shemin was honorably discharged in August 1919, and went on to get a degree from the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University. After graduation, he started a greenhouse and landscaping business in Bronx, New York, where he raised three children. Shemin died in 1973.

" 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, one of Shemin's superiors.

Medal of Honor Citation[edit | edit source]

MOH WWI.jpg

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to:

SERGEANT WILLIAM SHEMIN
United States Army

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Sergeant Shemin distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Rifleman with G Company, 2d Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, American Expeditionary Forces, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy on the Vesle River, near Bazoches, France from August 7 to August 9, 1918. Sergeant Shemin left cover and crossed open space, repeatedly exposing himself to heavy machine-gun and rifle fire, to rescue wounded. After Officers and Senior Noncommissioned Officers had become casualties, Sergeant Shemin took command of the platoon and displayed great initiative under fire until wounded on August 9. Sergeant Shemin’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.


References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

External links[edit | edit source]

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