Congressman Brad ShermanPress Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2002
Contact: Matt Farrauto
(202) 226-8434

 

SHERMAN INSTRUMENTAL IN AWARDING MEDAL OF HONOR
President Presents Constituent With Fallen Hero’s Medal

[Washington, DC] - Congressman Brad Sherman attended a White House ceremony today as the Medal of Honor was awarded by the President to deceased Angeleno Ben L. Salomon. The ceremony was the culmination of a five-year effort by Congressman Sherman to cut through bureaucratic red tape.

On July 7, 1944, Captain Ben L. Salomon, serving voluntarily as the Surgeon of the 2nd Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division, gave his life in the defense of wounded soldiers under his care at Saipan, Marianas Islands. Salomon was initially recommended for the medal, but was denied because of his status as a Medical Corps officer. Sherman formally submitted Salomon’s case for military review by the Army in April 1998. After numerous levels of review, the Secretary of the Army approved the award in January 2001 and the case was forwarded to the Secretary of Defense for final approval. The Defense Secretary signed off on the award in March 2002.

“I’m honored that I could help right a historical wrong. Ben Salomon’s valor in battle was truly extraordinary. He justly deserves this award,” said Congressman Sherman. “That I could help honor the greatness of his American spirit is a testament to its enduring strength. I am also proud of my staff’s diligence and tenacity in seeing this through to this day. ”

Salomon lost his life when a large force of between 3,000 and 5,000 Japanese attacked the 1st and 2nd Battalions’ position. Although both units fought furiously, the enemy soon penetrated their combined perimeter and inflicted overwhelming casualties. While ministering to the wounded in his aid station, Capt. Salomon killed several enemy soldiers attempting to enter the tent. Then, realizing the gravity of the situation, he 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. He soon took over a machine gun position left unoccupied by the deaths of four U.S. soldiers. This was the last time Capt. Salomon was seen alive.

When Salomon was found the next day, his body -- with 76 bullet wounds and numerous bayonet injuries -- was slumped over the machine gun. Ninety-eight dead enemy soldiers were piled up in front of his gun position, which he had moved four times to maintain a clear field of fire. Capt. Salomon’s selfless actions and great personal valor allowed untold numbers of wounded comrades to retire to safety. Although he was recommended for a posthumous Medal of Honor at the time, the recommendation was not approved by the unit’s commanding general, who believed that Salomon’s status as a medical officer precluded his eligibility for the award.

Dr. Robert West, DDS, a resident of Calabasas, CA brought Ben Salomon’s case to Congressman Sherman’s attention in July of 1997. West is an alumnus of the University of Southern California School of Dentistry, as was Ben Salomon (a 1937 graduate). He learned of Salomon’s story while researching the histories of earlier USC Dental School alumni.

As there are no surviving relatives of Ben Salomon, the Medal of Honor was presented by President Bush to Dr. West, who then presented the medal to Major General Patrick Sculley, Chief of the Army Dental Corps. The Medal will be displayed at Army Dental Corps headquarters; a facsimile of the Medal will be displayed at the USC Dental School. Dr. West was flown to Washington, DC as a guest of the Army.

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military award for bravery. It is awarded by the President in the name of Congress. For this reason, it is often referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor. Since its establishment by Congress in the early 1860s, slightly more than 3,400 Medals of Honor have been awarded. Ben Salomon’s is the first for a member of the Army Dental Corps. The ashes of Salomon and his parents are interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles. Sherman is organizing an event to honor Ben Salomon at his gravesite early this summer.

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Photos of Ben Salomon, Dr. West and Congressman Sherman are available electronically.

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