This capsule of MSU history was written by Whitney Miller, processing archivist with MSU Archives & Historical Collections.
The Medal of Honor was the first medal awarded to individual members of the military to honor their gallantry and valor against an enemy force. Created during the Civil War, it is now the highest U.S. military decoration. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, and thus is sometimes called the Congressional Medal of Honor. It is the one military award that is worn around the neck.
Two former MSU students have been awarded the Medal of Honor. Harold A. Furlong, a native of Detroit who enrolled at MAC in 1914, was issued the medal in 1919 for his actions during the Battle of Bois-de-Bantheville (France) in World War I. When several comrades and his commander were killed by forward German machine gunfire, 1st Lt. Furlong crossed open space to move behind four separate machine gun nests, putting them out of action by killing or taking prisoner the enemy soldiers. At MAC Furlong was a member of the Varsity Debating team and the Forensic Literary Society, and served as publicity chairman for the YMCA. Furlong left MAC in his junior year to join the U.S. Army. After the war, he received a medical degree from the University of Michigan. He was the only Michiganian to win the Medal of Honor in World War I.
Harry Linn Martin was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallantry in action at Iwo Jima on March 26, 1945. 1st Lt. and platoon leader Harry Martin of Co. C, Fifth Pioneer Battalion, Fifth Marine Division heroically faced a surprise attack at dawn of the enemy Japanese forces. He worked his way through hostile fire to help his fellow soldiers who were trapped by the incoming barrage. Although he sustained two severe injuries in that action, he continued to battle the enemy by single-handedly charging a Japanese machine gun position, killing the hostile forces. He continued on, leading his men against the enemy until he was mortally wounded by a grenade blast. One of the great heroes of World War II, his legacy lives on in the name of the U.S. Navy Ship, the USNS 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin, named in 2006. Harry Martin graduated MSC in the Class of ’36.
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