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First Name: Rufus

Last Name: Herring

Birthplace: Roseboro, NC, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Geddie

Date of Birth: 11 June 1921

Date of Death: 31 January 1996

Rank or Rate: Lieutenant Commander

Years Served: 1942-1947
Rufus Geddie Herring

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Rufus Geddie Herring
Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Lieutenant Commander Rufus Geddie Herring (11 June 1921 - 31 January 1996) was a U.S. Naval Reserve officer and a recipient of America's highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during World War II.

Rufus Geddie Herring was born on 11 June 1921 in Roseboro, NC. After graduating from Davidson College in Davidson, NC, in the spring of 1942, Rufus Herring enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve and subsequently attended the Naval Reserve Midshipman School in New York City.

After being commissioned an Ensign in December 1942, he received diesel engine instruction at the University of Illinois, followed by orders to the Amphibious Training Base at Solomons, MD. In August 1943 he assumed command of the newly completed infantry landing craft USSĀ LCI(L)-449 and remained her commanding officer during the next year and a half. Herring was promoted to Lieutenant, Junior Grade, in March 1944 and between February and July of that year he participated in the invasions of Kwajalein, Saipan, Tinian and Guam.

In February 1945 Herring's ship, by then designated a gunboat landing craft (LCI(G)-449), took part in the pre-invasion bombardment of Iwo Jima. On 17 February, while shelling enemy positions in support of Underwater Demolition Team swimmers, the ship was heavily hit by Japanese counterfire and went out of control. Despite very serious wounds that left him gravely weakened, Herring took the helm, rallied his men, and kept the ship in action. For his heroic actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Naval Reserve, LCI (G) 449.

Place and date: Iwo Jima, 17 February 1945.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of LCI (G) 449 operating as a unit of LCI (G) Group 8, during the preinvasion attack on Iwo Jima on 17 February 1945. Boldly closing the strongly fortified shores under the devastating fire of Japanese coastal defense guns, Lt. (then Lt. (j.g.)) Herring directed shattering barrages of 40mm. and 20mm. gunfire against hostile beaches until struck down by the enemy's savage counterfire which blasted the 449's heavy guns and whipped her decks into sheets of flame. Regaining consciousness despite profuse bleeding he was again critically wounded when a Japanese mortar crashed the conning station, instantly killing or fatally wounding most of the officers and leaving the ship wallowing without navigational control. Upon recovering the second time, Lt. Herring resolutely climbed down to the pilothouse and, fighting against his rapidly waning strength, took over the helm, established communication with the engine room, and carried on valiantly until relief could be obtained. When no longer able to stand, he propped himself against empty shell cases and rallied his men to the aid of the wounded; he maintained position in the firing line with his 20mm. guns in action in the face of sustained enemy fire, and conned his crippled ship to safety. His unwavering fortitude, aggressive perseverance, and indomitable spirit against terrific odds reflect the highest credit upon Lt. Herring and uphold the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Sent back to the U.S. for hospitalization, Herring was promoted to Lieutenant in August 1945. In April 1947, he was transferred to the retired list with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

Rufus G. Herring subsequently returned to his hometown of Roseboro, NC, where he pursued a business career.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant Commander Rufus Geddie Herring died on 31 January 1996 and is buried in Roseboro Cemetery in Roseboro, NC.

Honoree ID: 1444   Created by: MHOH




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