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Freddie Stowers: Remembering A Hero

By Kay Willis Burns

Friday, November 16, 2018 8:38 AM

Above: A statue of Corporal Freddie Stowers

In 1991, Corporal Freddie Stowers — a native of nearby Sandy Springs in Anderson County — was posthumously awarded the nation’s highest military honor by President George H.W. Bush for his heroism in World War I:

"The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (posthumously) to Corporal Freddie Stowers, United States Army, for exceptional heroism on September 28, 1918, while serving as a squad leader in Company C, 371st Infantry Regiment, 93d Infantry Division. Corporal Stowers' company was the lead company during the attack on Hill 188, Champagne Marne Sector, France, during World War I.

A few minutes after the attack began, the enemy ceased firing and began climbing up onto the parapets of the trenches, holding up their arms as if wishing to surrender. The enemy's actions caused the American forces to cease-fire and to come out into the open.

As the company started forward and when within about 100 meters of the trench line, the enemy jumped back into their trenches and greeted Corporal Stowers' company with interlocking bands of machine gun fire and mortar fire causing well over 50 percent casualties.

Faced with incredible enemy resistance, Corporal Stowers took charge, setting such a courageous example of personal bravery and leadership that he inspired his men to follow him in the attack. With extraordinary heroism and complete disregard of personal danger under devastating fire, he crawled forward leading his squad toward an enemy machine gun nest, which was causing heavy casualties to his company.

After fierce fighting, the machine gun position was destroyed and the enemy soldiers were killed. Displaying great courage and intrepidity, Corporal Stowers continued to press the attack against a determined enemy. While crawling forward and urging his men to continue the attack on a second trench line, he was gravely wounded by machine gun fire.

Although Corporal Stowers was mortally wounded, he pressed forward, urging on the members of his squad, until he died. Inspired by the heroism and display of bravery of Corporal Stowers, his company continued the attack against incredible odds, contributing to the capture of Hill 188 and causing heavy enemy casualties.

Corporal Stowers' conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism and supreme devotion to his men were well above and beyond the call of duty, follow the finest traditions of military service and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army."

Above: Stowers' family gathers to honor his heroism

On September 28, 2018 — the 100th anniversary of the death of Corporal Freddie Stowers — family, friends, and community leaders came together in Sandy Springs to remember their favorite son. In attendance were Brigadier General Beagle of Ft. Jackson, Producer Roy Gragg of "Men of Honor: Freddie Stowers & Alvin York," and the Clemson University Pershing Rifles, which fired a 21-gun salute.

Corporal Stowers was the first African American soldier to be honored with the nation’s highest citation for valor in WWI.


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