PEOPLE--UNITED STATES

Sergeant Matej Kocak, USMC, (1882-1918)

Matej Kocak was born on 31 December 1882 in Gbely, Slovakia (then part of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire). Emigrating to the United States in 1906, he enlisted from New York in the U.S. Marine Corps a year later. Following training, his first duty station was at the Marine Barracks, League Island, Pennsylvania, then transferred to the Marine Barracks, New York Navy Yard, New York. During the intervention at Vera Cruz, Mexico, in April 1914, Kocak had temporary duty with the U.S. Army until November. In late December 1915, he was assigned to the Marine Barracks, Naval Station, New Orleans, Louisiana. From mid-1916 until the end of the year, he participated in the Dominican Campaign. In March 1917, Kocak was promoted to Corporal and received orders to Quantico, Virginia.

In June 1918, Kocak was promoted to Sergeant while serving with the Sixty-Sixth Company, Fifth Regiment, Second Division Marines in France during World War I. On 18 July, during action in the Viller-Cottertes section, south of Soissons, France, his company was halted by enemy gun fire from a hidden machine gun nest. While only covered by gun fire, Kocak went forward alone and rushed the enemy position with his bayonet, eventually driving off the enemy. Later on that same day, he organized French colonial soldiers separated from their company and led an attack disabling a second machine gun nest. For his "extraordinary heroism" on both of these occasions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army. On 4 October 1918, Kocak was killed in action at the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge in France and is buried at Meuse Argonne American Cemetery, Romagne, France.

This page features the only image we have concerning Matej Kocak.

Photo #: NH 79442

Sergeant Matej Kocak, USMC


Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 119.
Matej Kocak was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his " extraordinary heroism" on 18 July 1918 during combat action in the Viller-Cottertes Section, south of Soissons, France.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 39KB; 590 x 765 pixels

 


U.S. Navy Medal of Honor citation of Sergeant Matej Kocak, USMC (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 119):

"For extraordinary heroism while serving with the Sixty-sixth Company, Fifth Regiment, Second Division, in action in the Viller-Cottertes section, south of Soissons, France, 18 July 1918. When a hidden machine-gun nest halted the advance of his battalion, Sergeant Kocak went forward alone unprotected by covering fire and worked his way in between the German positions in the face of heavy enemy fire. Rushing the enemy positions with his bayonet, he drove off his crew. Later the same day, Sergeant Kocak organized French colonial soldiers who had become separated from their company and led them in an attack on another machine-gun nest which was also put out of action."

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U.S. Army Medal of Honor citation of Sergeant Matej Kocak, USMC (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863-1978 ", page 448):

"When the advance of his battalion was checked by a hidden machinegun nest, he went forward alone, unprotected by covering fire from his own men, and worked in between the German positions in the face of fire from enemy covering detachments. Locating the machinegun nest, he rushed it and with his bayonet drove off the crew. Shortly after this he organized 25 French colonial soldiers who had become separated from their company and led them in attacking another machinegun nest, which was also put out of action."



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To the best of our knowledge, the pictures referenced here are all in the Public Domain, and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose.



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