2020 Legion of Honor Medal Presentations

February 13, 2020

On February 13, 2020 the Marine Corps League, with detachment 1391 providing a local support role, assisted the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation and the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum conduct the 2020 Legion of Honor Medal Presentations. During the ceremony, two Legion of Honor Gold Medallions, one Legion of Honor Bronze Medallion, and one Charles W. David, Jr. Lifesaving Medallion were awarded.

The Legion of Honor Gold Medallion is the highest and most prestigious award presented by the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation. The Gold Medallion is given to a person whose leadership has brought their actions to National or International attention, and whose very life demonstrate the spirit of self-sacrifice epitomized by the Four Chaplains.

The Legion of Honor Bronze Medallion is the second highest award and is granted for extraordinary contributions to the well-being of others at the Regional or National level.

The Charles W. David, Jr. Lifesaving Medallion is given to persons that saved the life of another at grave personal risk.

The Four Chaplains (Reverend George L. Fox, Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Father John P. Washington, and Reverend Clark V. Poling) were four World War II chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilian and military personnel as the troop ship Dorchester sank on February 3, 1943. The ship left New York on January 23, 1943, in route to Greenland, carrying approximately 900 passengers and crew. During the early morning hours of February 3, the vessel was torpedoed by the German submarine U-223 off Newfoundland in the North Atlantic. The chaplains helped the other passengers and crew board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. The chaplains joined arms, said prayers, and sang hymns as they went down with the ship.

Charles Walter David Jr. served as a Steward's Mate on the Coast Guard Cutter Comanche, which was assigned to escort a convoy that included the Dorchester, a troop transport, when it was torpedoed by a U-boat off Newfoundland. Steward's Mate David volunteered to dive into the frigid waters to rescue exhausted crew and passengers from the Dorchester. Tragically, David came down with pneumonia after the exertion of the rescue, dying a few days later.

The 2020 Legion of Honor Medal Presentation was attended by a large number of Marine Corps League members, especially those from the Brazos Valley detachment and from the Galveston detachment. In the center of the picture is Jim "Matrtress Mack" McIngvale, who was a 2019 Gold Medallion Recipient in acknowledgement of his significant contributions to the Houston area, especially in regard to feeding the homeless and his support for the victims of Hurricane Harvey (hit Texas in August 2017), which was the worst extreme weather event to affect the United States in a decade.

George L. Fox (born on March 15, 1900), the eldest of eight children, left school at 17 and lied about his age in order to join the Army in 1917 to serve in the ambulance corps during World War I. Upon his discharge, he returned home, completed high school and then earned a degree from Illinois Wesleyan University. He was ordained a Methodist minister on June 10, 1934. Fox received his appointment to Army Chaplain on July 24, 1942. Reform Rabbi Alexander D. Goode (born on May 10, 1911), received a PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 1940. He received his appointment to Army Chaplain on July 21, 1942.
Clark V. Poling (born August 7, 1910), received his B.D. degree in 1936 at Yale University's Divinity School and was ordained in the Reformed Church. He accepted his appointment to Army Chaplain on June 10, 1942. John P. Washington (born on July 18, 1908), received an A.B. Degree at Seton Hall in 1931 and his minor orders at Immaculate Conception Seminary on May 26, 1933. He received his appointment to Army Chaplain, reporting for active duty on May 9, 1942.
Warren Finch, Director of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum provided a welcoming speech to the packed auditorium. Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, 2019 Gold Medallion Recipient, presented the 2020 Gold Medallions awarded to President George Bush and Barbara Bush. Their grandson, George Prescott Bush, accepted the medallions for them.
President Bush received the 2020 Gold Medallion for a lifetime of service beginning with being the youngest Naval combat pilot in World War II, and continued through a lifetime of service continuing after leaving the office of Presidency. Barbara Bush received the 2020 Gold Medallion for her extensive support of the needy, to include homeless shelters, soup kitchens, senior centers, veterans’ hospitals, teen pregnancy programs, and family literacy programs. Their grandson, George Prescott Bush, accepted the medallions for them. George Prescott Bush received the Bronze Medallion for his role as the 28th Texas Land Commissioner in addressing the state’s housing-related recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey, which aided more than 60,000 victims of Hurricane Harvey rebuild their homes and their lives. Also noted was his contribution in support of the private property rights dispute between Red River ranchers and farmers against the Federal Bureau of Land Management's attempted land grab in 2008-2009 of thousands of acres in Texas. These Texans have lived and paid taxes on the land in question for generations, and hold legal titles and deeds to the land going back to the 1800’s. The dispute was successfully settled in 2017.
Charles Walter David Jr. (born on June 20, 1917), was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for rescuing numerous crew and passengers of the Dorchester troop transport from the freezing waters off Newfoundland, which resulted in his own death a few days later from pneumonia. On November 16, 2013, the US Coast Guard Cutter Charles David Jr of the Sentinel-class was commissioned in his honor. Charles Ynman, Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation board member and Marine Order of Devil Dog Texas Pack Leader, presented the Charles W. David Jr. Lifesaving Medallions to Officer John Barnes and Assistant Chief Gary Forward.
On Friday, May 18, 2018, Officer John Barnes, the first law enforcement officer to confront the Santa Fe High School shooter, engaged the shooter within four minutes of the first shot. In the engagement, a shotgun blast caught his right elbow, shattering his bone and severing an artery. Officer Barnes subsequently spent 33 days in the hospital recovering from his wounds. Assistant Chief Gary Forward ran to Officer Barnes, blood streaming onto the tile, and quickly wrapped a tourniquet around Officer Barnes’ arm. Then Officer Forward exchanged shots with the shooter. With the help of a State Trooper, Officer Forward was able to convince the shooter to surrender. The whole incident reportedly lasted 30 minutes.