By Katie Lange, U.S. Department of Defense
Medics on the battlefield have a crucial job: to care for the wounded despite the chaos around them. Army Pfc. Bryant Womack understood that job so well that he refused to quit helping others in Korea, even after he’d lost a limb. That selflessness led to his death, but it also earned him the Medal of Honor and a place in Army history.
Womack was born in Mill Springs, North Carolina, in May 1931. His family said he was a quiet young man who loved playing practical jokes on them. He also loved his dogs, hunting, fishing and riding bikes.
Womack joined the Army shortly after high school and became a medic with the 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. Soon thereafter, he was sent to Korea.
On March 12, 1952, Womack was part of a night combat patrol that was overwhelmed by a huge enemy force near Sokso-ri, an area that belonged to the north during the war. He was the only medic attached to the unit.
A lot of the unit’s men were getting hit, so Womack went to their aid despite having to run out in the thick of the fight. He was seriously injured in the process, but he refused medical aid for himself, instead continuing to help others who were hurt.
While helping one man, Womack was hit by a mortar and lost his right arm. He knew if he didn’t get help immediately, he would die, but he still refused aid, insisting that the other wounded were helped first. While Womack was too injured to physically help at this point, he stayed at the scene and directed other soldiers on how to perform first aid for him.
Womack was the last man to get out of the line of fire, waiting for all of the injured to make it to safety until he tried to leave. He walked until he collapsed from the blood loss. He died a few minutes later in the arms of his comrades, who carried him away. He was 20 years old.
Womack’s outstanding courage and intense devotion to duty earned him the Medal of Honor, which was given to his family on Jan. 12, 1953.
In recognition of his extraordinary heroism, the Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was dedicated in his name in 1958. The facility moved locations in 2000, but the name has stayed the same.
Womack’s sister, Rachel Elliott, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony in 2000 and said her brother would be proud that his name is still associated with the medical profession.
"He enjoyed being a medic and saving people's lives, helping the wounded and the sick," Elliott said at the time.
We’re sure the many men he helped save are thankful for that.
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