b. 04/01/1950 Minneapolis, Minnesota. d. 03/07/1969 Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 03/07/1969 Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam.
Michael Reinert Blanchfield was born on January 4,1950, to Robert and Jeannette (Watson) Blanchfield. He has four siblings, brothers Bill and James and sisters Bobby Jo and Patricia. In 1961, his family moved to Arlington Heights, Illinois which is a suburb of Chicago. As a sophomore, Michael dropped out of high school. He enlisted in the Army at the age of 17 and earned his GED while in the Army.
On February 20, 1969, Michael was sent to Vietnam as Specialist Fourth Class in Light Weapons Infantry in Company A, 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. On July 3, 1969, in Binh Dinh Province, Michael smothered the blast of a hand grenade with his body, sacrificing himself to protect those around him. At age 19 at this death, he was buried in All Saints Catholic Cemetery, Des Plaines, Illinois. Michael was survived by his fiancée, Miss Frances Ratz of
Wheeling. For his actions, Michael was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Medal was presented to his family at The White House on 22 April 1971 by President Richard M. Nixon.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Michael was also awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Purple Heart, Vietnam Campaign Medal and Vietnam Service Medal. On May 27, 2011, the Wheeling High School presented his family with an honorary diploma and a plaque signifying his induction as a distinguished alumnus.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Blanchfield distinguished himself while serving as a rifleman in Company A on a combat patrol. The patrol surrounded a group of houses to search for suspects. During the search of 1 of the huts, a man suddenly ran out toward a nearby tree line. Sp4c. Blanchfield, who was on guard outside the hut, saw the man, shouted for him to halt, and began firing at him as the man ignored the warning and continued to run. The suspect suddenly threw a grenade toward the hut and its occupants. Although the exploding grenade severely wounded Sp4c. Blanchfield and several others, he regained his feet to continue the pursuit of the enemy. The fleeing enemy threw a second grenade which landed near Sp4c. Blanchfield and several members of his patrol. Instantly realizing the danger, he shouted a warning to his comrades. Sp4c. Blanchfield unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his safety, threw himself on the grenade, absorbing the full and fatal impact of the explosion. By his gallant action and self-sacrifice, he was able to save the lives and prevent injury to 4 members of the patrol and several Vietnamese civilians in the immediate area.
BURIAL LOCATION: ALL SAINTS CEMETERY, DES PLAINES, ILLINOIS.
SECTION 52, BLOCK 27, LOT 4, GRAVE 8
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.