Thomas C. Neibaur

The First Latter–day Saint Medal of Honor Recipient

Thomas C. Neibaur was the first Latter–day Saint to be awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor on the battlefield. The following is Neibaur’s own account as found in the volume, Courage Amidst a Season of War:

On 16 October we were in a position facing a small round knoll. To the right was a nest of German machine guns shooting down on us, and we could not advance until that nest of machine guns was cleaned out.

The Captain called for volunteers to attack the Germans. I volunteered, then my two companions stepped out and said they would go with me.

We crawled to the top of the hill, where we encountered barbed wire entanglements … in getting over this wire entanglement I was shot through the thigh of my right leg three times, but no bones were broken. My machine–gun loader and scout were both killed at this wire fence. I dragged myself along the mound of dirt to where I was comparatively safe.

When I looked up, I saw about forty–five Germans coming toward me. I quickly turned my automatic rifle on them and fired about fifty shots. The Germans got so close that I could see there was no chance for me to get them all, so I made an attempt to get back over the shell holes to my company. After I got away from the protection of the pile of dirt, I was in plain view of the fifteen Germans still alive. They kept advancing, shooting as they came. I was hit with a ball in my right hip, which passed into the left hip and there remains to this day. The shot stunned me for a minute, and I feel on my face in the mud.

The Germans continued up the hill, until the boys of my company saw them and fired a volley at them. None of the Germans were killed, but it scared them and they got down out of sight. I crawled back to my pistol which they had not picked up. I got hold of it, then stood up and called to the Germans to hold up their hands. They came out of the shell holes and rushed at me with fixed bayonets. There were seven shots in my pistol. I shot the four Germans in front, and all this time I was calling on them to hold up their hands. When they saw that four of the fifteen were killed, the other eleven threw up their hands. I took them back to our lines.

Sherman L. Fleek, Place the Headstones Where They Belong, (Utah State University Press, 2008), pages 139–140.

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