[Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct a mistake.]
Cpl. Clair Goodblood dug into his position, his machine gun scanning a field of fire that before long would be swarming with enemy fighters.
A member of Company D, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, Goodblood had been attached to another outfit — Company B — to fortify defensive positions that held key terrain in Popsu-dong, Korea.
His presence would wind up making all the difference in the world.
By the evening of April 24, 1951, the enemy had arrived, hurtling toward Goodblood’s position in droves.
The 21-year-old corporal from Fort Kent, Maine, wasted no time — and no ammunition — in his response, sending wave after wave of rounds into the approaching wall of human flesh.
Despite his efforts, it quickly became evident the American forces would have to withdraw, and as the night wore on, the order came down to retreat.
Slowly but surely, men from Company B regressed away from the enemy infiltration and the imminent destruction that awaited as a result of being vastly outnumbered.
Recognizing the retreat would be susceptible to heavy fire, Goodblood and his assistant gunner volunteered to remain, staving off their assailants for a while longer while the rest evacuated to safety.
Goodblood held the position, his assistant gunner feeding him belt after belt of ammunition, into the morning hours of April 25.
As the retreat continued, Goodblood’s tireless response never faltered despite being under a constant barrage of enemy fire.
The time was approaching for Goodblood and his assistant to withdraw when the corporal noticed the dull thump of enemy grenade in the dirt next to him.
He reacted instantly, tackling his assistant gunner and covering him with his own body to shield from the blast.
Both men were grievously wounded in the blast, but Goodblood refused medical treatment, insisting instead that another soldier who had brought a resupply of ammunition to their position grab his assistant and get to safety.
His assistant now gone, Goodblood got back in the fight, alone, sweeping his machine gun back and forth across the field of fire as enemy soldiers overran his position.
His men in a safe position finally heard his machine gun go silent after an enemy banzai charge.
Able to regroup, Company B and supporting elements led a successful counterattack to retake the critical ground.
When they arrived to the slain machine gunner’s position, they found his body laying directly next to his gun.
It wasn’t until they advanced beyond Goodblood’s machine gun nest that the damage he inflicted on the enemy became clear.
Scattered across the sector the corporal was responsible for were approximately 100 dead enemy fighters.
For his actions, Goodblood received the Medal of Honor.
He is buried in Burnham, Maine.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.