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Jan.13, 2010

Vol. 110, No. 7

More military heroes

Without detracting from the World War II heroism of Sandy Bonnyman ’32 and Tom Brophy ’47, I must correct a statement in the 1947 Class Notes for Nov. 18. Marine Lt. Bonnyman was not the only Princeton Medal of Honor recipient. My understanding is that there have been six, and certainly one was Navy Lt. j.g. John Kelvin Koelsch ’45. He volunteered to fly an unarmed helicopter under heavy fire and in severe weather to rescue a downed Marine flyer. After nine days helping the flyer and crewman to escape, he was captured, and his valor continued in captivity where he refused to help the Japanese in any way and inspired other POWs. He was placed in solitary confinement and died of malnutrition three-and-a-half months later. The citation of his Congressional Medal of Honor and an article about Koelsch and his experience by John Kauffmann ’45 appear in the class’s 50th Reunion Book. I believe an article about Lt. Koelsch would be a worthy feature in PAW.

Phillips Huston ’45
Naples, Fla.

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1 Response to More military heroes

Michael Goldstein '78 Says:

2010-01-21 13:09:20

The University might do well to have an organized online or physical memorial to those alumni awarded the military's highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor. So far I have found four Princetonians who have been awarded the MOH. In my research for my story on Lt. Alexander Bonnyman, USMC '30 (PAW, May 13, 2009) who was posthumously awarded the Medal for his actions at Tarawa in 1943, I found two other MOH awardees: Col. Gordon Johnston '96 (US Army, Philippines, 1906) Lt. Colonel John U. D. Page '26 (US Army, Korea, posthumous) As there doesn't seem to be any centralized Princeton reference on this topic, I was not aware of Lt. jg John Kelvin Koelsch '45 and his Medal of Honor (USN, Korea, posthumous) until Mr. Huston's letter.
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