I’d like to introduce you to the badass of July, Sergeant David B. Bleak (27 February 1932–23 March 2006). During the Korean War (1950-53), Bleak served as a medic in the US Army as apart of the 223rd Infantry Regiment of the 40th Infantry Division. On 14 June 1952 he volunteered to be the medic of a dawn recon patrol that had the goal of locating and capturing an enemy for interrogation. It was while making their way up the rough slope of Hill 499 that they found themselves under heavy enemy fire from a combination of automatic and small-arms fire from concealed positions.
As the group’s only medic, he tended to the wounded before rejoining the rest of the men who continued to fight their way up the hill. As the patrol’s only acting medic, Bleak tended to the wounded before rejoining the men who were still fighting their way up the hillside to capture a prisoner.
The details leading up to what happened next aren’t exactly clear but Sergeant Bleak, upon discovering the concealed position of the enemy, ran direction into the trench and proceeded to kill two North Korean fighters with his bare hands—he broke one’s neck and then crushed the other’s windpipe—and then killed a third by plunging his trench knife into the man’s chest. That wasn’t the end of Bleak’s disregard for his own person safety, within seconds of realizing a grenade had rolled into the trench he and another soldier had been fighting in, the medic jumped atop his comrade to protect him from the impact.
During this entire firefight, Bleak had been hit by a bullet in the leg but he’d ignored his wound and instead cared for his injured comrades. Later, while heading back to the UN lines and carrying a several wounded comrade around his shoulders, Bleak was attacked by two Communist soldiers armed with bayonets. Did the Army medic panic? No. Bleak simply grabbed the two men and smacked their skulls together and, as if there had been nothing to worry about, continued on his way carrying his helpless comrade down Hill 499 to safety.
Though it took until October 1953 for his acts to be recognized, Sergeant David Bleak was awarded the Medal of Honor from President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington. After the war, Bleak lived a quiet life in the state of Idaho, passing away in 2006. He is survived by his wife, four children, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
June 27, 2012, 1:55pm / 94