Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Benjamin

Last Name: Salomon

Birthplace: Milwaukee, WI, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Lewis

Date of Birth: 01 September 1914

Date of Death: 07 July 1944

Rank: Captain

Years Served: 1940 - 1944
Benjamin Lewis Salomon

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Benjamin Lewis Salomon

Captain, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Captain Benjamin Lewis Salomon (1 September 1914 - 7 July 1944) was a U.S. Army officer and dentist who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic acts during the Battle of Saipan in World War II. Salomon was assigned as a front-line surgeon since there were no equivalents of today's advanced paramedics.

Benjamin Lewis Salomon was born in Milwaukee, WI, on 1 September 1914. He graduated from Shorewood High School and attended Marquette University. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of Southern California (USC). He graduated from the USC Dental College in 1937 and began a dental practice.

In 1940, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and began his military service as an infantry Private. In 1942, he was notified that he was to become an officer in the Army Dental Corps and he was commissioned a First Lieutenant on 14 August 1942. In May 1943, he was serving as the regimental dental officer of the 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in 1944.

In June 1944, Salomon saw his first combat; going ashore on Saipan with the 105th Infantry. With little dental work to do during active battle, Salomon volunteered to replace the 2nd Battalion's surgeon who had been wounded. As the 2nd Battalion advanced, the casualty numbers were high. On 7 July, Salomon's aid station was set up about 50 yards behind the forward foxhole line. The tent was filling with wounded and, soon after, Japanese soldiers began to enter the tent. Salomon was able to fend off the enemy in the tent and ordered the wounded to be evacuated while he stayed behind to cover their withdrawal.

Days later, when an Army team returned to the site, Captain Salomon's body was found slumped over a machine gun, with the bodies of 98 enemy troops piled up in front of his position. His body had 76 bullet and many bayonet wounds, up to 24 of which may have been received while he was still alive.

Capt. Edmund G. Love, the 27th Division historian, was a member of the team that found Salomon's body. At the request of Brig. Gen. Ogden J. Ross, the assistant commander of the 27th Division, Love gathered eyewitness accounts and prepared a recommendation for the Medal of Honor for Captain Salomon.

The recommendation was returned by Maj. Gen. George W. Griner, the Commanding General of the 27th Division. Officially, Griner declined to approve the award because Salomon was "in the medical service and wore a Red Cross brassard upon his arm. Under the rules of the Geneva Convention, to which the United States subscribes, no medical officer can bear arms against the enemy." In addition to a possible bias, the guideline for awarding the Medal of Honor to medical non-combatants states that one may not receive the Medal of Honor for actions in an "offensive." More recent interpretations of the Convention, as well as the U.S. Laws of Land Warfare allow use of personal weapons in self-defense or in defense of patients and staff, as long as the medical soldier does not wear the Red Cross. Part of the problem in Salomon's citation was that a machine gun is considered a "crew-served" weapon, not an individual weapon.

Prior to Salomon, only two Jews were awarded Medals of Honor during World War II and none for Korea. Many more were refused under questionable circumstances, possibly including Salomon's. Among them were Pfc. Leonard Kravitz (uncle and namesake of the pop star Lenny Kravitz) and Corporal Tibor Rubin, who was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2005.

In 1951, Love re-submitted the recommendation through the Office of the Chief of Military History. The recommendation was returned without action with another pro-forma reason: the time limit for submitting World War II awards had passed. In 1969, another Medal of Honor recommendation was submitted by Lt. Gen. Hal B. Jennings, the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army. In 1970, Stanley R. Resor, Secretary of the Army, recommended approval and forwarded the recommendation to the Secretary of Defense. The recommendation was returned without action.

In 1998, the recommendation was re-submitted by Dr. Robert West (USC Dental School) through Congressman Brad Sherman. Finally, on 1 May 2002, President George W. Bush presented Captain Ben Salomon's Medal of Honor to Dr. Robert West. Salomon's Medal of Honor is displayed at the USC Dental School. The Army Medical Department, at this point, was supportive.

Remarks of President George W. Bush on presenting the Medal of Honor posthumously to Captain Ben L. Salomon on 1 May 2002:

For Captain Ben Salomon, no living relatives remain to witness this moment. And even though they never met, Captain Salomon is represented today by a true friend, Dr. Robert West. Welcome, sir.

Five years ago, Dr. West was reading about his fellow alumni of the University of Southern California's dental school. He came upon the story of Ben Salomon of the class of 1937, who was a surgeon in World War II and was posthumously nominated for the Medal of Honor. The medal was denied on a technicality. Looking into the matter, Dr. West found that an honest error had occurred and that Captain Salomon was indeed eligible to receive the Medal of Honor.

He earned it on the day he died, July the 7th, 1944. Captain Salomon was serving in the Marianas Islands as a surgeon in the 27th Infantry Division, when his battalion came under ferocious attack by thousands of Japanese soldiers. The American units sustained massive casualties, and the advancing enemy soon descended on Captain Salomon's aid station. To defend the wounded men in his care, Captain Salomon killed several enemy soldiers who had entered the aid station. As the advance continued, he ordered comrades to evacuate the tent and carry away the wounded. He went out to face the enemy alone and was last heard shouting, "I'll hold them off until you get them to safety. See you later."

In the moments that followed, Captain Salomon singlehandedly killed 98 enemy soldiers, saving many American lives but sacrificing his own. As best the Army could tell, he was shot 24 times before he fell, more than 50 times after that. And when they found his body, he was still at his gun.

No one who knew him is with us this afternoon. Yet, America will always know Benjamin Louis Salomon by the citation to be read shortly. It tells of one young man who was the match for 100, a person of true valor who now receives the honor due him from a grateful country.

Medal of Honor

Citation: Captain Ben L. Salomon was serving at Saipan, in the Marianas Islands on July 7, 1944, as the Surgeon for the 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. The Regiment's 1st and 2d Battalions were attacked by an overwhelming force estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 Japanese soldiers. It was one of the largest attacks attempted in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Although both units fought furiously, the enemy soon penetrated the Battalions' combined perimeter and inflicted overwhelming casualties. In the first minutes of the attack, approximately 30 wounded soldiers walked, crawled, or were carried into Captain Salomon's aid station, and the small tent soon filled with wounded men. As the perimeter began to be overrun, it became increasingly difficult for Captain Salomon to work on the wounded. He then saw a Japanese soldier bayoneting one of the wounded soldiers lying near the tent. Firing from a squatting position, Captain Salomon quickly killed the enemy soldier. Then, as he turned his attention back to the wounded, two more Japanese soldiers appeared in the front entrance of the tent. As these enemy soldiers were killed, four more crawled under the tent walls. Rushing them, Captain Salomon kicked the knife out of the hand of one, shot another, and bayoneted a third. Captain Salomon butted the fourth enemy soldier in the stomach and a wounded comrade then shot and killed the enemy soldier. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Captain Salomon ordered the wounded to make their way as best they could back to the regimental aid station, while he attempted to hold off the enemy until they were clear. Captain Salomon then grabbed a rifle from one of the wounded and rushed out of the tent. After four men were killed while manning a machine gun, Captain Salomon took control of it. When his body was later found, 98 dead enemy soldiers were piled in front of his position. Captain Salomon's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Death and Burial

Captain Benjamin Lewis Salomon was killed in action on 7 July 1944. He is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Los Angeles County, CA, in Great Mausoleum, Columbarium of Guidance, N-21994.

Honoree ID: 1631   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image