Captain Ben L. Salomon
U. S. Army, 27th Infantry Division, 105th Infantry Regiment
Benjamin Lewis Salomon was born September 1, 1914 to Jewish parents Benjamin L Salomon and Bess L Leszinsky Salomon in
Milwaukee, WI. As a youth he was an Eagle Scout and graduated from Shorewood High School then attended Marquette University, before transferring to the University of Southern California (USC) and completed his undergraduate degree. He graduated from the USC Dental School in 1937 and began a dental practice.
On March 5, 1941 enlisted in the U. S. Army as a private with serial number 39228918. During basic training, he qualified as expert in rifle and pistol. During 1942 he was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Dental Corps. On August 14, 1942, the 102nd Infantry Regiment's Commanding Officer (C. O.) declared him the unit's "best all around soldier". In May 1943 assigned as the regimental dental officer for the 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. During 1944, promoted to the rank of Captain.
During June 1944 Salomon landed on Saipan with the 27th Infantry Division. Lacking the need for any dental work in combat, he instead volunteered to replace the 2nd Battalion's surgeon who was wounded. On July 7, 1944 he was working an aid station only 50 yards behind the front lines in west of the island. In the evening, the Japanese launched a suicidal banzai charge that overran the front line and reached his position. Salomon fought to defend the aid station and ordered the wounded to be evacuated, while he covered their withdrawal until he was Killed In Action (KIA).
Recovery of Remains
Days later, Salomon's body was recovered slumped over a machine gun. His body had 76 bullet wounds and several dozen bayonet injuries that might have been inflicted while he was still alive. Around the machine gun position were the bodies of 98 Japanese.
Medal of Honor Recommendation
In the group that located his body was Captain Edmund G. Love, historian for the 27th Division who was instructed to gather witnesses and prepare a Medal of Honor recommendation but it was declined by Maj. Gen. George W. Griner based on the fact he was in the medical service and was operating a machine gun, deemed an offensive crew served weapon.
In 1951, Love resubmitted the recommendation the U. S. Army Office of the Chief of Military History but it was again declined stating the time limit for World War II awards had ended. In 1969, another Medal of Honor recommendation was submitted by Lt. Gen. Hal B. Jennings, the Surgeon General of the United States Army. In 1970, Stanley R. Resor, Secretary of the Army, recommended approval and forwarded the recommendation to the Secretary of Defense. The recommendation was returned without action.
In 1998, the recommendation was re-submitted by Dr. Robert West from the USC Dental School via U. S. Congressman Brad Sherman, with the support of Maj. Gen. Patrick D. Sculley, chief of the Army Dental Corps. Finally, on May 1, 2002, President George W. Bush presented Salomon's Medal of Honor to Dr. West. Salomon was one of only three Jewish Americans to earn the Medal of Honor during World War II. Afterwards, West presented the Medal to Sculley for permanent placement in the Army Medical Department Museum in San Antonio, Texas. Also, a replica of Salomon's Medal of Honor is displayed at the USC Dental School.
Medal of Honor Citation
"Captain Ben L. Salomon was serving at Saipan, in the Marianas Islands on July 7, 1944, as the Surgeon for the 2nd Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. The Regiment’s 1st and 2d Battalions were attacked by an overwhelming force estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 Japanese soldiers. It was one of the largest attacks attempted in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Although both units fought furiously, the enemy soon penetrated the Battalions’ combined perimeter and inflicted overwhelming casualties. In the first minutes of the attack, approximately 30 wounded soldiers walked, crawled, or were carried into Captain Salomon’s aid station, and the small tent soon filled with wounded men. As the perimeter began to be overrun, it became increasingly difficult for Captain Salomon to work on the wounded. He then saw a Japanese soldier bayoneting one of the wounded soldiers lying near the tent. Firing from a squatting position, Captain Salomon quickly killed the enemy soldier. Then, as he turned his attention back to the wounded, two more Japanese soldiers appeared in the front entrance of the tent. As these enemy soldiers were killed, four more crawled under the tent walls. Rushing them, Captain Salomon kicked the knife out of the hand of one, shot another, and bayoneted a third. Captain Salomon butted the fourth enemy soldier in the stomach and a wounded comrade then shot and killed the enemy soldier. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Captain Salomon ordered the wounded to make their way as best they could back to the regimental aid station, while he attempted to hold off the enemy until they were clear. Captain Salomon then grabbed a rifle from one of the wounded and rushed out of the tent. After four men were killed while manning a machine gun, Captain Salomon took control of it. When his body was later found, 98 dead enemy soldiers were piled in front of his position. Captain Salomon’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army."
Salomon was officially declared dead on July 7, 1944. He is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA in the Great Mausoleum, Columbarium of Guidance, N-21994 with his parents. Below the family name plaque is the Medal of Honor.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Ben L. Salomon
FindAGrave - Ben L. Salomon (photo, grave photo)
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