Samuel Iredell Parker (1891, in Monroe, North Carolina – 1975, in Concord, North Carolina) was a United States Army Second Lieutenant and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Battle of Soissons France during World War I. President Franklin D. Roosevelt presented the Medal of Honor to Parker on May 7, 1936, at the White House in a ceremony which U.S. Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Malin H. Craig attended.[17][5]

After the war, Parker worked in textile mills in North Carolina. During World War II, he was involved with training soldiers at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Parker's other awards include the Distinguished Service Cross, two awards of the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, two Purple Hearts, and the Croix de Guerre, making him the single most decorated infantryman of the First World War.

Medal of Honor Citation

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company K, 28th Infantry, 1st Division. Place and date: Near Soissons, France, 18–19 July 1918. Entered service at: Monroe, North Carolina. Birth: Monroe, North Carolina. General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 1 (1937).

Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. During the attack the 2d and 3d Battalions of the 28th Infantry were merged, and after several hours of severe fighting, successfully established a frontline position. In so doing, a gap was left between the right flank of the French 153d Division on their left and the left flank of the 28th Infantry, exposing the left flank to a terrific enfilade fire from several enemy machineguns located in a rock quarry on high ground. 2d Lt. Parker, observing this serious situation, ordered his depleted platoon to follow him in an attack upon the strong point. Meeting a disorganized group of French Colonials wandering leaderlessly about, he persuaded them to join his platoon. This consolidated group followed 2d Lt. Parker through direct enemy rifle and machinegun fire to the crest of the hill, and rushing forward, took the quarry by storm, capturing 6 machineguns and about 40 prisoners. The next day when the assault was continued, 2d Lt. Parker in command of the merged 2d and 3d Battalions was in support of the 1st Battalion. Although painfully wounded in the foot, he refused to be evacuated and continued to lead his command until the objective was reached. Seeing that the assault battalion was subjected to heavy enfilade fire due to a gap between it and the French on its left, 2d Lt. Parker led his battalion through this heavy fire up on the line to the left of the 1st Battalion and thereby closed the gap, remaining in command of his battalion until the newly established lines of the 28th Infantry were thoroughly consolidated. In supervising the consolidation of the new position, 2d Lt. Parker was compelled to crawl about on his hands and knees on account of his painful wound. His conspicuous gallantry and spirit of self-sacrifice were a source of great inspiration to the members of the entire command.[17]

Distinguished Service Cross Citation

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 28th Infantry, 1st Division, American Expeditionary Forces. Place and date: Near Exermont, France; October 5, 1918. General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 44 (1919).

Citation:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Second Lieutenant (Infantry) Samuel Iredell Parker, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with 28th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division, A.E.F., near Exermont, France, 5 October 1918. With total disregard for his own personal danger, Lieutenant Parker advanced directly on a machine-gun 150 yards away while the enemy were firing directly at him, and killed the gunner with his pistol. In the town of Exermont his platoon was almost surrounded after having taken several prisoners and inflicting heavy losses on the enemy; but despite the fact that only a few men of the platoon were left, continued to fight until other troops came to their aid.

Military Awards

Parker's military decorations and awards include:

1st rowMedal of HonorDistinguished Service CrossSilver Star w/one bronze oak leaf cluster
2nd rowLegion of MeritPurple Heart w/one bronze oak leaf clusterWorld War I Victory Medal w/one silver service star to denote credit for the Montdidier-Noyon, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne and Defensive Sector battle clasps.
3rd rowAmerican Campaign MedalWorld War II Victory MedalCroix de guerre 1914–1918 w/bronze palm (French Republic)
Unit AwardFrench Fourragère - Authorized permanent wear based on two French Croix de Guerre with Palm unit citations awarded the 28th Infantry Regiment for Picardy and Aisne-Marne

See also