Herbert A “Hal” Littleton MOH

b. 01/07/1930 Mena, Arkansas. d. 22/04/1951 Chungchon, Korea.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 22/04/1951 Chungchon, Korea.

Herbert A Littleton MOH

Littleton, known as “Hal”, was born on July 1, 1930, in Mena, Arkansas. His parents, Paul and Maude Littleton then moved their family to Black Hawk, South Dakota. He attended elementary school in Spearfish, South Dakota and East Port Orchard, Washington, and high school in Sturgis, South Dakota, where he played basketball and football. He was employed as an electrical appliance serviceman by an electrical appliance company in Rapid City, South Dakota.

While living in Black Hawk, Littleton enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on July 29, 1948, for a one-year term and took recruit training in San Diego, California.[3] He graduated on October 2, and afterwards completed the Marine Corps field telephone course. He was assigned as a Telephoneman and Message Center Man with the Signal Battalion at Camp Pendleton. He was honorably discharged at Camp Pendleton with the rank of private first class on July 28, 1949. On July 29, he re-enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve. In 1950, he moved to Nampa, Idaho, and worked as a lineman for Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph.

After the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, Littleton was called to active duty in September. He trained at Camp Pendleton and was sent to Korea with the 3rd Replacement Draft. On December 17, he was assigned as a radio operator with a four-man artillery forward observer team in Item (“I”) Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division and began participating in operations in south and central Korea. 

Littleton earned the nation’s highest military award for valor on April 22, 1951, on Hill 44 in Chuncheon, South Korea, by deliberately falling upon and smothering an enemy grenade which exploded that was one of many thrown at his team’s forward observation post while his observation team was serving with C Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. By doing so, he saved the lives of the other three Marines including the officer and forward observer in charge of Littleton’s team during the early morning enemy counterattack on C Company. He also prevented the radio from being damaged by taking it off before he was killed. The radio was used afterwards to direct artillery fire in order to repulse the Chinese attack during the battle to take the hill.

Memorial services were held for Littleton on October 17, 1951, in Nampa, Idaho.

Littleton was the 16th Marine to receive the Medal of Honor in Korea. He was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman in June 1952 and his parents were presented Littleton’s Medal of Honor on August 19, 1952, during a ceremony at the Naval Reserve Training Center in Boise, Idaho which included the activation of the 44th Rifle Company, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

The Marine Corps League’s Detachment 1261 in Mena, Arkansas was named after Littleton in December 2006. On September 7, 2000, a Littleton Medal of Honor monument was dedicated to him in Spearfish, South Dakota. In December 2009, the post office in Nampa was renamed in his honor.



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a radio operator with an artillery forward observation team of Company C, in action against enemy aggressor forces. Standing watch when a well-concealed and numerically superior enemy force launched a violent night attack from nearby positions against his company, Pfc. Littleton quickly alerted the forward observation team and immediately moved into an advantageous position to assist in calling down artillery fire on the hostile force. When an enemy hand grenade was thrown into his vantage point shortly after the arrival of the remainder of the team, he unhesitatingly hurled himself on the deadly missle, absorbing its full, shattering impact in his body. By his prompt action and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice, he saved the other members of his team from serious injury or death and enabled them to carry on the vital mission which culminated in the repulse of the hostile attack. His indomitable valor in the face of almost certain death reflects the highest credit upon Pfc. Littleton and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.