For those who are wounded early during a days-long battle, the wait for relief can be excruciating. Many have pushed through that pain to continue fighting, though, including Army 1st Lt. Deming Bronson. Despite several serious injuries, Bronson persevered to help lead his fellow soldiers to success during one of the last battles of World War I.
Bronson was born on July 8, 1894, in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. In 1903, his parents moved the family to Seattle, where Bronson and his two older sisters and two younger brothers grew up.
Bronson played football from 1912 to 1916 at the University of Washington, where he graduated with a degree in forestry. He was commissioned into the Army when the U.S. joined World War I in 1917.
By September 1918, Bronson was serving with the American Expeditionary Force in France when the Meuse-Argonne Offensive began. The bloody campaign was one of the war’s final battles and lasted until the declaration of an armistice that ended the conflict.
Bronson was a first lieutenant with Company H of the 364th Infantry Regiment, 91st Division. On Sept. 26, 1918, they were ordered to advance on the enemy near Eclisfontaine, France. Early in the engagement, Bronson was hit by hand grenade shrapnel, which left deep cuts on his face and head. That didn’t keep him from pushing forward with his men through open territory, though. With no cover, the unit used hand grenades and phosphorus bombs to capture an enemy dugout and take several soldiers prisoner.
Bronson was hit by a bullet in the left arm later that afternoon. A fellow soldier patched him up, but he was directed to the rear of the regiment to get more aid. Bronson disregarded those instructions and stayed with his company through the night, all while suffering through severe pain and shock.
The next morning, the 364th pushed forward to capture Eclisfontaine. Bronson’s company was tasked with supporting the attacking line, but instead, the first lieutenant joined that line and fought his way into the village. He even took out an enemy gunner to help capture an enemy machine gun nest.
Unfortunately, a heavy barrage of enemy artillery forced the unit to withdraw from the village. Bronson remained until all the other soldiers had retreated. That sacrifice left him with further injuries after he was hit in both arms by an exploding enemy shell. Another officer had to help him get to cover, where they could render first aid.
By then, Bronson was bleeding heavily and faint from the blood loss, but he still refused to go to the rear of the regiment for medical treatment. He stayed with the front line through the night of that second day before being evacuated to a field hospital. After he left, Allied soldiers were able to recapture Eclisfontaine for a final time on Sept. 28, 1918.
Less than a month later, Germany surrendered, and the war was over.
Bronson fully recovered and returned to the U.S. He left the Army and became an executive with a paint company in Ohio and New Jersey. In 1925, he married Dorothy Brown, with whom he had two daughters.
More than a decade after his heroics in Eclisfontaine, Bronson learned he had earned the Medal of Honor. He received the medal from President Herbert Hoover during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 19, 1929.
Eventually, Bronson moved his family to Roseburg, Oregon, where he worked for his family’s lumber business. According to the Idaho Statesman newspaper, he was active in veterans affairs and did a stint as the national commander of the Army and Navy Legion of Valor.
Bronson died on May 29, 1957, while at a hospital in Boise, Idaho. He was 62. The former Army hero was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Bronson’s memory lives on at his alma mater. In 2009, a monument was dedicated to him and seven other University of Washington alumni who were also Medal of Honor recipients.
This article is part of a weekly series called “Medal of Honor Monday,” in which we highlight one of the more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who have earned the U.S. military’s highest medal for valor.
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