BARSTOW, Calif. - Few acts of heroism and selflessness can match jumping upon a live hand grenade in combat.
Designed to kill or injure in a large area, absorbing the entire blast of a grenade with one’s own body means almost certain death. It is for this reason that several service members throughout history have received the Medal of Honor for this ultimate act of self-sacrifice.
Carlton R. Rouh however, is one of very few men who have fallen on a grenade and lived to tell the tale.
Born May 11, 1919 in Lindenwold, N.J., Rouh enlisted in the Marine Corps, January 1942, shortly after the outbreak of World War II.
Following basic training, Pvt. Rouh was sent to the pacific theater for combat duty.
Rouh received the Silver Star Medal during the Battle of Guadalcanal for carrying wounded men out of enemy fire, until he himself was wounded. In addition to this, Rouh was awarded a battlefield commission to second lieutenant for his outstanding leadership and initiative in combat.
As an officer, Rouh was put in command of a weapons platoon during the New Britain Campaign.
Rouh was promoted to first lieutenant prior to the Battle of Peleliu where he performed actions above and beyond the call of duty.
On September 15, 1944, during the Battle of Peleliu, Rouh was severely wounded by Japanese fire. Two of his fellow Marines managed to pull him away to a safer location and began administering first aid.
While receiving first aid, Rouh and his men came under fierce Japanese fire and grenade assault, with one grenade landing in their midst. Despite his injuries, Rouh shoved his two comrades aside and threw his body over the grenade. Rouh’s body absorbed the entire blast, leaving his two Marines uninjured.
Still conscious, Rouh heard the continuing firefight, and was eventually able to be evacuated. For his selfless actions, Rouh received the Medal of Honor.
Following his evacuation, Rouh was hospitalized to recover from his grievous wounds. Upon his retirement from active duty, Rouh was promoted to captain.
Rouh passed away December 8, 1977, but his actions and the actions of service members like him continue to inspire people to this day.