ROBERT D. REEM, 2LT, USMC
Robert Reem '48
Date of birth: October 20, 1925
Date of death: November 6, 1950
From the 1948 Lucky Bag:
From Wikipedia's entry:
Robert Dale Reem was born on October 20, 1925 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Elizabethtown High School in June 1943. During his final year of high school, he was a page in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from January to May 1943. Robert Reem married Donna Z. Mayo
He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in August 1943, completed his recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, in October and was selected for appointment to the Naval Academy at that time. He attended the Naval Academy Preparatory School at the Naval Training Center, Bainbridge, Maryland, before entering the Academy in June 1944.
He was commissioned a Marine Corps second lieutenant on June 4, 1948, upon his graduation from Annapolis. In June 1949, he completed the Basic School at Quantico, Virginia, where he remained with the Special Training Regiment until that August. In December 1949, after several months at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, he was assigned with that battalion to duty with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.
In August 1950, the battalion was ordered to Korea, where it joined the 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. 2Lt Reem fought with his battalion in the Inchon landing, the capture of Seoul, and the fighting in North Korea.
The 26-year-old Marine was commanding an infantry platoon near Chinhung-ni, North Korea, on November 6, 1950. He was preparing his men for an assault on an enemy position when the grenade landed among them. Without hesitation, he smothered the grenade’s explosion with his own body to save the rest of the group from death or serious injury. For this action, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
The Medal of Honor was presented to his widow by Secretary of the Navy Dan A. Kimball in ceremonies on February 8, 1952 in Washington, D.C.
He initially was buried in the United Nations Cemetery near Hamhung, North Korea. His body was later returned to the United States for burial in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. His grave can be found in section 6, Grave 9376-B, Map Grid X/18.
… Reem is memorialized at the US Naval Academy with a special dormitory room, the Reem room, with brass plaque.
Medal of Honor
From Hall of Valor:
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Second Lieutenant Robert Dale Reem (MCSN: 0-49636), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 November 1950, as a platoon commander in Company H, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Chinhung-ni, Korea. Grimly determined to dislodge a group of heavy enemy infantry units occupying well-concealed and strongly fortified positions on commanding ground overlooking unprotected terrain, Second Lieutenant Reem moved slowly forward up the side of the ridge with his platoon in the face of a veritable hail of shattering hostile machinegun, grenade, and rifle fire. Three times repulsed by a resolute enemy force in achieving his objective, and pinned down by the continuing fury of hostile fire, he rallied and regrouped the heroic men in his depleted and disorganized platoon in preparation for a fourth attack. Issuing last-minute orders to his noncommissioned officers when an enemy grenade landed in a depression of the rocky ground in which the group was standing, Second Lieutenant Reem unhesitatingly chose to sacrifice himself and, springing upon the deadly missile, absorbed the full impact of the explosion in his body, thus protecting others from serious injury and possible death. Stouthearted and indomitable, he readily yielded his own chance of survival that his subordinate leaders might live to carry on the fight against a fanatic enemy. His superb courage, cool decisiveness, and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of certain death reflect the highest credit upon Second Lieutenant Reem and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Action Date: 6-Nov-50
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Company: Company H
Battalion: 3d Battalion
Regiment: 7th Marines
Division: 1st Marine Division (Rein.)
From a blog post:
Lt. Reem’s company commander, 1st Lt. Howard H. Harris, sent a letter to Reem’s grandfather explaining what had happened on November 6, 1950. Reem was “suffering from a very severe cold . . . but refused to go the Battalion Aid Station for fear he might be evacuated,” Harris revealed. After launching an attack straight up what Harris described as "a mountain,” the Marines were stopped about fifty feet from the summit when “a large 'potato smasher’ type grenade" landed amongst them.
“I’m sure that his suffering was very brief,” Harris told the grandfather after describing what had happened. “Bob’s boys,” he continued, “were dazed for many days after his death, but in tribute to his brave action they carried on with the same fighting spirit. We retook the position . . .” (Tragically, by the end of December, many of Lt. Reem’s men would be dead. They would be killed at Chosin Reservoir, one of the most brutal and costly battles of the Korean War).
Harris concluded his letter saying, “Hoping that this information can be of some value to you and that you will accept my deepest sympathies for the loss of your beloved grandson. He was a fine Marine, a credit to his country, and the fine Corps that we all love so well.”
On February 8, 1952, Donna received Lt. Reem's Medal of Honor at a ceremony in Washington, DC. It was a bittersweet moment. She was grateful for her husband’s recognition but said later in a magazine article, “I don’t care about the Medal of Honor. I just want Bob back.”
Eleanor Coble, Reem’s younger sister remarked years later about her brother, “He always wanted to join the Marines. He talked about it all the time.” Echoing her words, Donna said in a 1953 magazine article, “He promised me he wouldn’t do anything heroic, and he wouldn’t have done it for himself. But he always thought of his men.” Donna Reem eventually remarried, had children, and died at the age of 90.
Ian Fraser '48 was also in 3rd Company.