William Sawelson was born on 5 August 1895 at Newark, New Jersey.
He enlisted in the US Army and was assigned to the 312th Infantry Regiment, 78th Division. William Sawelson attained the rank of Sergeant and was serving as a Supply Sergeant at the Battle of Grand-Pre, France, on 26 October 1918. Upon hearing a wounded man in a shell hole calling for water, Sergeant William Sawelson, on his own initiative, left the shelter of his own shell hole and crawled through heavy machine gun fire to where the man lay. After giving the man what water he had in his canteen, William Sawelson made his way back to his own shell hole to get more water. Whilst crawling back to the wounded man’s shell hole William Sawelson was killed by a machine gun bullet.
For his actions on 26 October 1918 Sergeant William Sawelson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. His citation reads:1
"Hearing a wounded man in a shell hole some distance away calling for water, Sgt. Sawelson, upon his own initiative, left shelter and crawled through heavy machinegun fire to where the man lay, giving him what water he had in his canteen. He then went back to his own shell hole, obtained more water, and was returning to the wounded man when he was killed by a machinegun bullet."
Sergeant William Sawelson is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial, Plot C, Row 9, Grave 33.