Wednesday May 13 2009
Medal of Honor for Korea vet
By: Jim Kennemore, Special to The News Messenger
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles through May 21 that feature veterans with ties to the greater Lincoln area. To see the previous articles, check online at lincolnnewsmessenger.com. By Jim Kennemore Special to The News Messenger Born in Greenville, S.C. in 1920, Robert S. Kennemore was reared by several families. In 1940, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to boot camp in San Diego. On Aug. 7, 1942, he was with the 1st Marine Division when it landed on the beaches of Guadalcanal. Kennemore survived that campaign and the rest of World War II virtually without a scratch. By 1950, the Kennemore family, now with three young sons, was stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York where Kennemore (now considering himself a “career Marine”) was training members of a reserve automatic weapons unit. With war erupting in Korea, Kennemore’s unit was activated and put on a troop train to San Diego, where it then boarded a troop ship and sailed directly to Korea. On Nov. 27 and 28, 1950, Sgt. Kennemore was in action north of Chosen Reservoir with his unit in a vicious firefight against numerically superior enemy forces. Making his way among dead and wounded Marines, Kennemore gathered ammunition to redistribute to elements of his machine gun section. He was delivering am-munition to one of his three-man gun crews when a Chinese grenade landed nearby. Kennemore was able to throw that grenade back down the hill at the enemy. A second grenade landed nearby again and Kennemore stomped it down into the snow with one foot. When a third grenade landed next to him, Kennemore had time only to kneel on top of it. Kennemore sustained the full force of both exploding grenades, thus saving the lives of three fellow Marines. Kennemore survived but lost both legs and suffered serious wounds to other parts of his body. He was eventually sent to Oak Knoll Navy Hospital in Oakland, where he was medically retired from the Marine Corps. In 1953, Staff Sgt. Kennemore was summoned to the White House where President Harry S. Truman awarded him the Medal of Honor. He would go on to father a total of seven children. He died in 1989, following a long illness.