PFC Henry Gurke was a member of the Third Raider Battalion during WWII. He was awarded the Congressional MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously for his heroic actions on May 31st, 1944. The MOH was awarded to his parents by the assistant secretary of the Navy. PFC Gurke later had a Destroyer-class naval vessel; the USS Gurke named in his honor in 1945. He was eventually laid to rest in Neche Union Cemetery in Neche, North Dakota. His citation reads as follows.
The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 6 November 1922, Neche, N. Dak. Accredited to: North Dakota.
For extraordinary heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the 3d Marine Raider Battalion during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands area on 9 November 1943. While his platoon was engaged in the defense of a vital road block near Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville Island. Pfc. Gurke, in company with another Marine, was delivering a fierce stream of fire against the main vanguard of the Japanese. Concluding from the increasing ferocity of grenade barrages that the enemy was determined to annihilate their small, 2-man foxhole, he resorted to a bold and desperate measure for holding out despite the torrential hail of shells. When a Japanese grenade dropped squarely into the foxhole, Pfc. Gurke, mindful that his companion manned an automatic weapon of superior fire power and therefore could provide more effective resistance, thrust him roughly aside and flung his own body over the missile to smother the explosion. With unswerving devotion to duty and superb valor, Pfc. Gurke sacrificed himself in order that his comrade might live to carry on the fight. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.