Photo from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society (https://www.cmohs.org/recipients/jake-w-lindsey-sr)

Submitted by Russ Latino

For every Lindsey, there are tens of thousands of Mississippians who have laced up boots in service without the same fanfare or remembrance.

Jake W. Lindsey, a Lucedale, MS native, served his country valiantly in both World War II and Korea. On November 16, 1944, Lindsey found himself pinned down outside of Hamich, Germany. The platoon of forty he led had been decimated by superior forces. Only six remained, including Lindsey, who had suffered a leg wound in the fighting.

Facing a German infantry company and five tanks, Sergeant Lindsey assumed a position in advance of his men. Armed only with his rifle and grenades, he beat back multiple attempts to overrun him. In the course of the fighting, Lindsey managed to destroy one panzer tank, take down two machine gun positions, and kill at least twenty German soldiers.

Out of ammunition, Lindsey eyed a third machine gun position fifty yards from where he was hunkered down. When the gun stopped firing to reload, Lindsey performed a bayonet charge. In hand-to-hand combat, he killed three of eight German soldiers manning the gun and captured two more. The remaining German soldiers fled.

Word of Sergeant Lindsey’s feat spread quickly from the battlefields of the European theater to the ears of the Secretary of War Henry Stimson in Washington, D.C. Lindsey earned the moniker of the “One Man Army” and it was decided that he would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallantry and bravery.

For a time, it was believed that the medal would have to be awarded posthumously, because Sergeant Lindsey was assumed fallen in battle. This assumption proved false. He had survived and would receive the honor, in person, from President Harry S. Truman on May 21, 1945 before a Joint Session of Congress.

Lindsey was just twenty-four years old at the time the medal was conferred. He would go on to fight with distinction in the Korean War, where he was credited with 150 enemy kills. When his fighting days were over, the One Man Army came home to Mississippi. Lindsey died in Waynesboro on July 18, 1988. He is one of twenty-one Mississippi servicemen that have been presented our nation’s highest honor.

The stories of men and women like Lindsey deserve to be remembered. His feats were remarkable. They are emblematic of how the crucible of war can reveal the heroism in seemingly ordinary people.

For every Jake Lindsey, there are tens of thousands of Mississippians who have laced up boots in service without the same fanfare or remembrance. They are all deserving of recognition and honor, because each has exhibited a willingness to put themselves in harm’s way if the moment arises.

The romanticized telling of a soldier’s commitment is that it is driven by love of country or passion for a righteous cause. There is certainly truth to be found there, but often the moments history heralds have other, more basic causes, like the human desire for survival or the instinct to protect brothers in arms. These desires are no less noble. Collectively, whatever the motivation, they have yielded the same result—a more peaceful and freer world.

Our veterans have fought back oppressive evil, defended the defenseless, and when the fight is brought to our doorstep, unleashed shock and awe. They are an integral part of the fabric of America and the preservation of our way of life.

So, it is fitting that we honor them today and everyday. It is also important to understand that bestowing honor is not simply accomplished with parades, statements of effusive praise, or viral memes. The best way to honor the service of soldiers is through sound judgment in when and how they are placed at risk, with clear objectives, with adequate resources, with good exit strategies, and with support beyond the battlefield.

For now, we salute the Jake Lindseys, all of the men and women of our armed services, and their families, for their sacrifices.

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Submitted by Russ Latino