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First Name: Robert

Last Name: McGovern

Birthplace: Washington, DC, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Washington, DC
Middle Name: Milton

Date of Birth: 24 January 1928

Date of Death: 30 January 1951

Rank: First Lieutenant

Years Served: 1946 - 1951
Robert Milton McGovern

•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


Robert Milton McGovern
First Lieutenant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Korean War

Robert Milton McGovern was born on 24 January 1928 in Washington, DC. He was a native of Washington and a 1946 graduate of St. John's College High School in the District.

McGovern was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on 30 January 1951.

He was hit and wounded as he and his platoon from the 5th Cavalry Regiment came under withering machine gun fire, but he continued up Hill 312, encouraging his men to meet and defeat the Chinese defense. His Medal of Honor recommendation was prepared for him at his men's insistence. His brother, Second Lieutenant Francis Jerome McGovern, was also killed in action twelve days later.

When his Medal of Honor was announced in January 1952, Robert's father, J. Halsey McGovern of Washington, created a stir when he refused to accept the award. He also refused to accept the Silver Star Medal posthumously awarded to his second son, Jerome, a member of the 187th Airborne Regiment who was killed in action on 11 February 1951. The senior McGovern's refusal was based on his belief that medals were superfluous. He felt that they did not do justice to all of the heroes of the war in Korea and, as he told reporters, he did not feel that Truman "was fit to confer medals on anyone's sons."

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company A, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division

Place and date: Near of Kamyangjan-ni (a small hamlet east of Suwon), Korea, 30 January 1951

G.O. No.: 2, 8 January 1952.


1st Lt. McGovern, a member of Company A, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an armed enemy of the United Nations. As 1st Lt. McGovern led his platoon up a slope to engage hostile troops entrenched in bunker-type pillboxes with connecting trenches, the unit came under heavy machine gun and rifle fire from the crest of the hill, approximately 75 yards distant. Despite a wound sustained in this initial burst of withering fire, 1st Lt. McGovern, assured the men of his ability to continue on and urged them forward. Forging up the rocky incline, he fearlessly led the platoon to within several yards of its objective when the ruthless foe threw and rolled a vicious barrage of hand grenades on the group and halted the advance. Enemy fire increased in volume and intensity and 1st Lt. McGovern realizing that casualties were rapidly increasing and the morale of his men badly shaken, hurled back several grenades before they exploded. Then, disregarding his painful wound and weakened condition he charged a machine gun emplacement which was raking his position with flanking fire. When he was within 10 yards of the position a burst of fire ripped the carbine from his hands, but, undaunted, he continued his lone-man assault and, firing his pistol and throwing grenades, killed 7 hostile soldiers before falling mortally wounded in front of the gun he had silenced. 1st Lt. McGovern's incredible display of valor imbued his men with indomitable resolution to avenge his death. Fixing bayonets and throwing grenades, they charged with such ferocity that hostile positions were overrun and the enemy routed from the hill. The inspirational leadership, unflinching courage, and intrepid actions of 1st Lt. McGovern reflected utmost glory on himself and the honored tradition of the military services.

Other Medals

In addition to the Medal of Honor, First Lieutenant McGovern was awarded the Purple Heart.


The U.S. Army named a camp after 1st Lt. McGovern, Camp McGovern, near the Brcko district, Bosnia.

Death and Burial

First Lieutenant Robert Milton McGovern was killed in action on 30 January 1951. He is buried beside his brother, Second Lieutenant Francis Jerome McGovern, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 3, Lot 1312-C.

Honoree ID: 1202   Created by: MHOH




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