Corporal Freddie Stowers MoH.
Seventy-three years after his death, Corporal Freddie Stowers was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valour during the First World War. He is the only African American to receive this honour for service during this war and George H W Bush said “It’s been said that the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge,” at the posthumous presentation of the Medal of Honor. “On Sept. 28, 1918, Corporal Freddie Stowers stood poised on the edge of such a challenge and summoned his mettle and his courage.”
Freddie Stowers’ military career began here, at Fort Jackson, where he joined the First Provisional Infantry Regiment (Coloured) on 4 October 1917. He was born and raised in Sandy Springs, South Carolina and was part of the first military draft of the First World War.
On 28 September 1918, while serving as squad leader of Company C, 371st Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division, Corporal Stowers took part in the assault at Hill 188, Champagne Marne Sector when his company led the attack. Shortly after the attack began, the enemy came out of the trenches leading Stowers and his company to believe they were surrendering. However, soon after the American forces came out of their trenches, the enemy resumed fire. Freddie Stowers led his company to the enemy trench line to take out a machine gun post which was causing a majority of the casualties.
As Corporal Stowers and his men moved forward he was mortally wounded. He continued to go on with his company and encouraged his men to go forward without him. The members of his squad pressed on, motivated by his heroism, and continued the attack; leading to the capture of Hill 188.
For his actions on 28 September 1918 Corporal Freddie Stowers was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, his citation reads:1
"Corporal Stowers, distinguished himself by exceptional heroism on 28 September 1918 while serving as a squad leader in Company C, 371st Infantry Regiment, 93d Division. His company was the lead company during the attack on Hill 188, Champagne Marne Sector, France, during World War I. A few minutes after the attack began, the enemy ceased firing and began climbing up onto the parapets of the trenches, holding up their arms as if wishing to surrender. The enemy's actions caused the American forces to cease fire and to come out into the open. As the company started forward and when within about 100 meters of the trench line, the enemy jumped back into their trenches and greeted Corporal Stowers' company with interlocking bands of machine gun fire and mortar fire causing well over fifty percent casualties. Faced with incredible enemy resistance, Corporal Stowers took charge, setting such a courageous example of personal bravery and leadership that he inspired his men to follow him in the attack. With extraordinary heroism and complete disregard of personal danger under devastating fire, he crawled forward leading his squad toward an enemy machine gun nest, which was causing heavy casualties to his company. After fierce fighting, the machine gun position was destroyed and the enemy soldiers were killed. Displaying great courage and intrepidity Corporal Stowers continued to press the attack against a determined enemy. While crawling forward and urging his men to continue the attack on a second trench line, he was gravely wounded by machine gun fire. Although Corporal Stowers was mortally wounded, he pressed forward, urging on the members of his squad, until he died. Inspired by the heroism and display of bravery of Corporal Stowers, his company continued the attack against incredible odds, contributing to the capture of Hill 188 and causing heavy enemy casualties. Corporal Stowers' conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism, and supreme devotion to his men were well above and beyond the call of duty, follow the finest traditions of military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army."
Corporal Freddie Stowers is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial, Plot F, Row 36, Grave 40.