John Kelvin Koelsch
Lieutenant, United States Navy
Born in London, England, December 22, 1924, he graduated from Princeton and was appointed a Naval Aviator in 1944. In 1950 he joined the crew of the USS Princeton and was reported missing in action in Korea on June 1, 1950 while on a rescue mission in that country. It was later learned that he had died while a prisoner of war on October 16, 1951.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor and his citation, in part, reads:

"For conspicious gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with a Navy helicopter rescue unit. Although darkness was rapidly approaching when information was received that a Marine aviator had been shot down and was trapped by the enemy in mountainous terrain deep in hostile territory, he voluntarily flew a helicopter to the reported position of the downed airman in an attempt to effect a rescue. With an almost solid overcast concealing everything below the mountain peaks, he descended in his unarmed and vulnerable helicopter without the accompanying fighter escort to an extremely low altitude beneath the cloud level and began a systematic search. Despite the increasingly intense enemyfire, which struck his helicopter on one occasion, he persisted in his mission until he succeded in locating the downed pilot, who was suffering from serious burns on his arms and legs. While the victim was being hoisted into the aircraft, it was struck again by an accurate burst of hostile fire and crashed into the side of a mountain. Quickly extricating his crewmen and the avitor from the wreckage, he led them from the vicinity in an effort to escape from hostile troops, evading the enemy for nine days and rendering such medical attention as possible to his severely burned companion until all were captured. Lieutenant (jg) Koelsch steadfastly refused to aid his captors in any manner and served to inspire his fellow prisoners by his fortitude and consideration for others. His great personal valor and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice throughout sustain and enhance the finest tradition of the United States Naval Service."

His body was eventually returned to the United States and was buried in Section 30 of Arlington National Cemetery.


KOELSCH, JOHN KELVIN. 

Rank and organization: Lieutenant (J.G.), U.S. Navy, Navy helicopter rescue unit. Place and date: North Korea, 3 July 1951. Entered service at: Los Angeles, California. Birth: London, England. 

Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with a Navy helicopter rescue unit. Although darkness was rapidly approaching when information was received that a marine aviator had been shot down and was trapped by the enemy in mountainous terrain deep in hostile territory, Lt. (J.G.) Koelsch voluntarily flew a helicopter to the reported position of the downed airman in an attempt to effect a rescue. With an almost solid overcast concealing everything below the mountain peaks, he descended in his unarmed and vulnerable aircraft without the accompanying fighter escort to an extremely low altitude beneath the cloud level and began a systematic search. Despite the increasingly intense enemy fire, which struck his helicopter on 1 occasion, he persisted in his mission until he succeeded in locating the downed pilot, who was suffering from serious burns on the arms and legs. While the victim was being hoisted into the aircraft, it was struck again by an accurate burst of hostile fire and crashed on the side of the mountain. Quickly extricating his crewmen and the aviator from the wreckage, Lt. (J.G.) Koelsch led them from the vicinity in an effort to escape from hostile troops, evading the enemy forces for 9 days and rendering such medical attention as possible to his severely burned companion until all were captured. Up to the time of his death while still a captive of the enemy, Lt. (J.G.) Koelsch steadfastly refused to aid his captors in any manner and served to inspire his fellow prisoners by his fortitude and consideration for others. His great personal valor and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice throughout sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.



John Kelvin Koelsch PHOTO
Photo Courtesy of the American Battle Monuments Commission


John Kelvin Koelsch Gravesite PHOTO
Photo courtesy of Raymond L. Collins, 1990

JK Koelsch Gravesite PHOTO
Photo Courtesy of Russell C. Jacobs, August 2006

JK Koelsch Gravesite PHOTO
Photo Courtesy of Russell C. Jacobs, March 2006
 

KOELSCH, JOHN KELVIN
LT JG USN
DATE OF BIRTH: 12/22/1934
DATE OF DEATH: 10/16/1951
BURIED AT: SECTION 30  SITE 1123
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

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Updated: 30 September 2000 Updated: 1 December 2001 Updated: 15 March 2003  Updated: 17 September 2005 Updated: 7 April 2006 Updated: 21 August 2006
US Navy Medal of Honor
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Purple Heart Medal