Memorial Day 2011: Flashback to 1958 Medal of Honor recipient Homer L. Wise, Eisenhower and the Tomb of the Unknowns

Monday, May 30, 2011

Today we celebrate Memorial Day.  Fifty-three years ago today, on May 30, 1958, President Eisenhower presided over the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery.

The New York Times reported:
"Two unknown American Servicemen one of World War II and one of the Korean War, were borne to their final resting places today at Arlington National Cemetery. Here on the grassy plaza, overlooking the Potomac Valley, uniformed pall bearers of all the military services laid the two bronze coffins beside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of World War I."
One of the seven pallbearers was Sgt. Homer L. Wise. Above is a rare photograph taken on that memorable day of the seven pallbearers all Medal of Honor recipients.

Tomb of the Unknowns

On August 3, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill to select and pay tribute to the Unknowns of World War II and the Korean War. The selection ceremonies and the interment of these Unknowns took place in 1958. The World War II Unknown was selected from remains exhumed from cemeteries in Europe, Africa, Hawaii, and the Philippines.

Two Unknowns from World War II, one from the European Theater and one from the Pacific Theater, were placed in identical caskets and taken aboard the USS Canberra, a guided-missile cruiser resting off the Virginia Capes. Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class William R. Charette, then the U.S. Navy's only active-duty Medal of Honor recipient, selected the World War II Unknown. The remaining casket received a solemn burial at sea.

Four unknown Americans who died in the Korean War were disinterred from the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. Army Master Sergeant Ned Lyle made the final selection.

Both caskets arrived in Washington on May 28, 1958, where they lay in the Capitol Rotunda until the morning of May 30, when they were carried on caissons to Arlington National Cemetery. President Eisenhower awarded each the Medal of Honor, and the Unknowns of World War II and the Korean War were interred in the plaza beside their World War I comrade.

Please visit our new website: The Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee and consider making a donation to help us honor this humble and extraordinary hero.
Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.’ May 5, 1868, Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic declared the first Decoration Day to be held on May 30, 1868

Thank you for your support,

The Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee

Photo caption : Body bearers Tomb of the Unknowns 1958 (From left to right) Homer L. Wise, Stamford, CT,  World War II,  William J. Crawford, Pueblo, CO,  World War II, Jerry K. Crump, Forest City, NC, Korean War, Paul B. Huff, Cleveland, TN, World War II, Ronald E. Rosser, Crooksville, OH, Korean War,  Donald E. Rudolph, Minneapolis, MN, World War II and Ernest R. Kouma, Dwight, NB, Korean War.

Hero fiance on the way home to her

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Homer and Madolyn Wise

We found an article from the 1944 Stamford Advocate called:

STAMFORD ADVOCATE November 29, 1944.

The most excited family in Stamford today was that of Madolyn DiSesa, whose finance, Sgt. Homer L. Wise, just received the Medal of Honor "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity."

His achievement was in battle June14, at Magliano, Italy, in which he fired everything at the enemy from a machine gun to a gun mounted on a tank.

Wise, 27, was decorated by Lieut. Gen. Alexander M. Patch in the presence of five general officers.

"Gentlemen, let's give this man a salute," Patch directed the other generals.

" I wish we had an Army full of soldiers like you, " Patch told the sergeant.

Wise, who holds the Silver Star, Bronze Medal, Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters for three wounds in action since June 22, is entitled to a trip home now.

Fiancee Excited

This is the thing the tall blonde Stamford girl is most excited about. " now H.L. will be coming home."

She hadn't had a letter in three weeks and the first news this morning was that there would be a Medal of Honor in the family.

"I've been waiting for him for almost two years and I guess praying really pays off," she said.

Ms. DiSesa met Sgt. Wise during a vacation near Cape Cod, MA over three years ago. "Oh, he's very good looking, over six feet tall, with chestnut hair and very blue eyes. He's the kind of person who wants to do his job and the only thing he would write is, 'Darling I'm in the hospital again, or I'm out again.' He was the first man on Salerno after serving in North Africa, and then sent to France. Just two months ago, a bullet went through his right shoulder, but he said he was lucky because it was a clean wound."

Now near Strasbourg

Sgt Wise is serving in the same division of the Seventh Army with his uncle and most recently around Strasbourg. He has two or three brothers, Ms. DiSesa is not quite sure how many, and a "wonderful grandmother" in Baton Rouge, LA who writes to me all the time and tells me about him. I guess she knows about this and is just as excited as I am."

But H.L. who prefers this to his given name of Homer, is probably more nervous than excited, according to Ms. DiSesa, who should know how he would react.
"He'll probably be more nervous when we finally meet than he was during all those campaigns," she said. "He's very modest and he'd give up his uniform for civvies in a minute, but he never gripes about the Army in his letters. He just figures it's something that has to be done and he's doing his best in a big job."

Copyright 2011 The Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee, Inc.