Herbert Littleton (1930–1951)

Herbert A. Littleton was an Arkansas native who received the Medal of Honor for valor while serving as a U.S. Marine during the Korean War.

Herbert A. Littleton was born in Mena (Polk County) on July 1, 1930, the youngest of three sons of the farming family of Paul N. Littleton and Lillie Maude Littleton. The family did not stay in Arkansas for long, relocating to Lawrence, South Dakota, by 1935, and then to Spearfish, South Dakota, by 1940, where Paul Littleton was working as a foreman on a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. The family continued moving around the western United States, with Littleton attending elementary school in East Port Orchard, Washington, and high school in Sturgis, South Dakota. He was working for the Electrical Appliance Corporation in Rapid City, South Dakota, when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps for a one-year term on July 29, 1948. After his year of service, Littleton moved with his family to Nampa, Idaho, where he worked as a lineman with Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph.

When the Korean War broke out, Littleton reenlisted in the marines, entering the service at Blackhawk, South Dakota. He went to Korea with the Third Replacement Draft on December 17, 1950, to serve as a private first class in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, Company C, First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division.

Littleton was serving as part of a forward artillery observation team at Chungchon, Korea, on April 22, 1951, when an enemy force staged a night attack on Company C. The twenty-year-old private joined the observation team to call in an artillery strike on the attackers when an enemy soldier threw a hand grenade into their position. Littleton threw himself on the grenade, absorbing the blast with his body. “By his prompt action and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice, he saved the other members of his team from serious injury or death and enabled them to carry on the vital mission which culminated in the repulse of the hostile attack,” his Medal of Honor citation states.

Littleton also received the Purple Heart, Korean Service Medal with one Bronze Star, and the United Nations Service Medal, among other awards. In 2009, the U.S. Post Office in Nampa was named in Littleton’s honor, and there are memorials to Littleton at the Polk County Courthouse in Mena and in Spearfish, South Dakota. He is buried at Kohlerlawn Cemetery in Nampa.

For additional information:
Buck, Melanie. “Littleton Memorial Replaced by Marine Corps League.” MyPulseNews.com, December 9, 2015. https://mypulsenews.com/littleton-monument-replaced-by-marine-corps-league/ (accessed February 13, 2018).

Goodnough, Jan. “Korea War Hero Honored in Spearfish.” Black Hills Pioneer, September 8 2000. Online at http://www.bhpioneer.com/korean-war-hero-honored-in-spearfish/article_a58b561d-d3a7-5e2f-97f6-57c4ffe0e84a.html?mode=jqm (accessed February 13, 2018).

Medal of Honor Recipients 1863–1978, Prepared for the Committee on Veterans Affairs United States Senate, February 14, 1979. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1979.

“PFC Herbert A. ‘Hal’ Littleton.” Findagrave.com. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=154944436 (accessed February 13, 2018).

Strauss, Sharon, “Nampa Post Office Named for War Hero.” Idaho Press Tribune, December 6, 2009. Online at https://www.idahopress.com/news/article_79e9b56a-c661-5392-b1c7-3e930607110b.html (accessed February 13, 2018).

Mark K. Christ
Little Rock, Arkansas


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