One of the great things out there is a catalogue of all of the citations of Medal of Honor winners in American history, created by the Center for Military History under the auspices of the Defense Department and the U.S. Army. It's here. Just grab one at random and read it... you will be awe-struck with the heroism and sacrifices of men who, until the moment they were called upon, were mostly average fellows. And yet... when that moment came, they acted, they risked all, they sometimes gave all, for their country and, most of the time, for their comrades, their buddies, their brothers in arms. Here's one from the Korean War:
McGOVERN, ROBERT M.
- Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company A, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.
- Place and date: Near Kamyangjan-ni, Korea, 30 January 1951.
- Entered service at: Washington, D.C.
- G.O. No.: 2, 8 January 1952.
Citation: 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 emplaced 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 handgrenades 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.