First Lieutenant Richard K. Sorenson, USMC, (1924-2004)

Richard Keith Sorenson was born on 28 August 1924 in Anoka, Minnesota. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps from that state in December 1942. Completing recruit training at Marine Corps Depot at San Diego, California, he was ordered to Company M, Third Battalion, Twenty-Fourth Marines, at Camp Pendleton in April 1943. Early in 1944, he departed for combat duty in the Pacific war zone. On 1-2 February, he served with an assault battalion attached to the Fourth Marine Division in action against the Japanese during the battle of Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. Bravely defending his position with five other Marines, he immediately hurled himself upon an enemy grenade when it landed in their vicinity, seriously wounding himself but saving the lives of his comrades. He was then evacuated and transported to Hawaii. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" on this occasion, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

In August 1944, upon recuperating from his injuries, Sorenson was assigned to the Marine Air Detachment at Naval Air Station at Minneapolis, Minnesota and promoted to Corporal. The following month, he was ordered to the Headquarters of the Central Recruiting Division in Chicago, Illinois and was promoted to Sergeant. Remaining on recruiting duty, he was ordered to the Midwestern Recruiting Division in St. Louis, Missouri, with additional duty at Fargo, North Dakota. Receiving orders to Great Lakes, Illinois, he remained there until honorably discharged in February 1946. For his civilian career, he worked for the Veteran's Administration and studied at St. John's University at Collegeville, Minnesota. In July 1947, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and received orders to the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Minneapolis. While at the station, he was promoted to Staff Sergeant in May 1951 and to Master Sergeant in June 1953.

In October 1953, Sorenson was appointed a Second Lieutenant and reported for training at the Basic School at Marine Corps Schools at Quantico, Virginia. In April 1954, he was assigned as the Assistant Supply Officer of the Seventh Engineer Battalion at Camp Pendleton and was promoted to First Lieutenant in the fall. Early the next year, he joined the Second Replacement Battalion and was ordered overseas to Okinawa, Japan with the Third Engineer Battalion, Third Marine Division. In November 1955, he returned to the United States and was discharged after voluntarily reverting back to Master Sergeant. Following his military service, he returned to work for the Veteran's Administration. Richard K. Sorenson died on 9 October 2004 and is buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This page features the only image we have concerning Richard K. Sorenson.

Photo #: NH 106455

Private Richard K. Sorenson, USMCR

Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 263.
Richard K. Sorenson was awarded the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry" while serving with an Assault Battalion attached to the Fourth Marine Division during the battle of Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands on 1-2 February 1944.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 51KB; 580 x 765 pixels


Medal of Honor citation of Private Richard K. Sorenson, USMCR (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 263):

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with an Assault Battalion, attached to the FOURTH Marine Division, during the battle of Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, on 1-2 February 1944. Putting up a brave defense against a particularly violent counterattack by the enemy during invasion operations, Private Sorenson and five other Marines occupying a shell-hole were endangered by a Japanese grenade thrown into their midst. Unhesitatingly, and with complete disregard for his own safety, Private Sorenson hurled himself upon the deadly weapon, heroically taking the full impact of the explosion. As a result of his gallant action, he was severely wounded, but the lives of his comrades were saved. His great personal valor and exceptional spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. "

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