Illinois at War, 1941-1945
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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October 25, 1944


The Medal of Honor, bestowed by the Congress, is the highest military award for bravery that the United States can give to one of its citizens. It was first instituted in 1861 to recognize outstanding battle actions during the Civil War. Regulations required that the deed performed had to be proven by incontestable evidence and attested to by two eyewitnesses. It went to the member of the armed forces who "distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty." In the course of WWII a total of 433 Medals of Honor were authorized. Individuals in the army received 294, navy 57, marines 81, and coast guard 1. Thirty-eight of those going to the army went to members of the air corps.

From September through December 1944 Allied forces were advancing slowly along a broad front in Europe north of Switzerland in the south, out from the Moselle River valley in far eastern France, to the western border of Luxembourg, through the Ardennes Forest in Belgium, into western German territory near Aachen, and into the Netherlands from Belgium in the north. Resistance was at times light and at other times fierce as the German army retreated to its own soil. The Allies were being careful not to outrun their supply lines which by early November were being fed mainly by shipments arriving from the port city of Antwerp in Belgium.

As a staff sergeant with less than three years in the service, Clyde Choate was receiving a base pay of $96.00 a month. Combat duty earned him an additional $5.00 for each pay period. The Medal of Honor carried with it a monthly cash award of an extra $2.00 Medal of Honor winners usually were restationed back in the United States where these genuine war heroes were used effectively to help promote war bond drives and war plant morale.

Anna is located in Union County in far southern Illinois. Much of that county is made up of the Shawnee National Forest. Mr. Choate went on to serve fifteen terms as a Democratic Representative in the Illinois General Assembly. He held numerous leadership positions during his lengthy service there.

Points to Consider

Locate Anna, Illinois and Bruyeres, France on maps.

What qualifies one to receive the U.S. Medal of Honor?

What was Staff Sergeant Clyde L. Choate's motivation for his actions?

Was his object to protect the battalion command post?

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