b. 13/04/1875 Peru, Indiana. d. 28/08/1938 Columbia City, Indiana.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 17/01/1901 Samar, Philippines.
Hiram was born April 13, 1875 in Peru, Indiana to Frank and Desdemona Bearss. His father was away on business at the time, but upon returning was informed that his son, “Mike” had been born. Through most of his youth Mike did not seem to like his given name of Hiram and was prone to fighting anyone who used it. He had one brother, Braxton and three sisters, Emmy, Desdemona and Lucy. As a child he got into a lot of trouble, frequently getting into fights and defying those in authority positions above him, including his parents. In addition to the trouble he got into he also had difficulty in school, but managed to do well enough to continue his education. As a young boy he found an interest in horses and became a good rider, winning a horse race when he was only six. When he was a teenager he ran away from home, but was found by his father, several weeks later, tending to some prize horses in a distant town. After convincing his father to let him continue caring for the animals he returned home. Along with his love of horses he was also a good athlete and enjoyed playing football and baseball.
He served as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, and was second in command in battle at the Cadacan and Sohoton Rivers, Samar, Philippine Islands. On November 17, 1901 he made a surprise attack on the enemy fortified cliffs, capturing their weapons, supplies and killing 30. He had successfully led his men up the cliffs by means of bamboo ladders to a height of 200 feet. He then led his men across the river, scaled the cliffs on the opposite side, and destroyed positions which were there.
During World War I, Bearss served in France with the 4th Marine Brigade, and commanded the 102nd Infantry at Marcheville in 1918, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Bearss died August 28, 1938, in an automobile collision in Columbia City, Indiana, while en route from Chicago to Peru, Indiana.
For extraordinary heroism and eminent and conspicuous conduct in battle at the junction of the Cadacan and Sohoton Rivers, Samar, P. I., November 17, 1901. Colonel Bearss, then Captain, second in command of the column upon their uniting ashore in the Sohoton region, made a surprise attack on the fortified cliffs and capturing and destroying a powder magazine, 40 lantacas (guns), rice, food and cuartels. Due to his courage, intelligence, discrimination and zeal, he successfully led his men up the cliffs [by] means of bamboo ladders to a height of 200 feet. The cliffs were of soft stone of volcanic origin, in the nature of pumice and were honeycombed with caves. Tons of rocks were suspended in platforms held in position by vine cables (known as bejuco) in readiness to be precipitated upon people below. After driving the insurgents from their position which was almost impregnable, being covered with numerous trails lined with poisoned spears, pits, etc., he led his men across the river, scaled the cliffs on the opposite side, and destroyed the camps there. He and the men under his command overcame incredible difficulties and dangers in destroying positions which according to reports from old prisoners, had taken three years to perfect, were held as a final rallying point, and were never before penetrated by white troops.
BURIAL LOCATION: MOUNT HOPE CEMETERY, PERU, INDIANA.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE US MARINE CORPS, QUANTICO, VIRGINIA.