Whitt Lloyd Moreland (1930–1951)

Whitt Lloyd Moreland, a native Texan, received a posthumous Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Korean War and is buried in his mother’s family cemetery near Mount Ida (Montgomery County).

Whitt Lloyd Moreland was born on March 7, 1930, in Waco, Texas, the son of Lloyd W. Moreland and Patsy Whittington Moreland. The family moved around Texas when he was young, following construction jobs, but he went to high school in Austin and Junction City, Texas, where he excelled on the track team before graduating in 1948.

After working briefly at an Austin bank and a construction company, Moreland enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in September 1948, serving a year at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, California, before being discharged and joining the Marine Corps Reserve. After the United States entered the Korean War, Moreland was re-called to active duty on November 30, 1950. Private First Class Moreland was assigned to Company C, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division, as an intelligence scout and shipped out for Korea.

On May 29, 1951, Company C was at Kwagch’i-Dong, Korea, when Moreland “voluntarily accompanied a rifle platoon against a strongly defended enemy hill position…[and] delivered accurate rifle fire on the hostile emplacement,” which fell to the marine assault. Moreland then “unhesitatingly led a party forward to neutralize an enemy bunker which he had observed some 400 meters beyond, and moving boldly through a fire-swept area, almost reached the hostile emplacement when the enemy launched a volley of handgrenades on his group.” Moreland kicked several of the grenades off the ridgeline to explode harmlessly but slipped and fell while going after another. Shouting a warning to his comrades, Moreland “covered the missile with his body and absorbed the full blast of the explosion, but in saving his companions from possible injury or death, was mortally wounded.”

Moreland’s remains were shipped home and buried in the Whittington Cemetery, his mother’s family burial ground two miles from Mount Ida, on October 19, 1951.

For his selfless actions, Moreland was awarded the Medal of Honor in June 1952, which was bestowed with dual ceremonies on August 4, 1952. In Austin, Texas Supreme Court chief justice John Edward Hickman and other dignitaries presented a large portrait of the marine and the medal to Moreland’s parents and sister in an elaborate ceremony at the Texas State Capitol, an event attended by more than 1,000 people. A separate ceremony, led by Lieutenant Governor Nathan Gordon of Arkansas, who had himself earned a Medal of Honor in World War II, was held simultaneously at Moreland’s grave in Whittington Cemetery. During the ceremony, a medal-shaped floral arrangement donated by the Arkansas Florists’ Delivery Association was presented, while the officer in charge of the state’s recruiting station read the young marine’s Medal of Honor citation, and a local preacher said a prayer in the company of two marine sergeants serving as an honor guard.

For additional information:
“Austin Marine Honored for Heroism in Korea.” Austin American-Statesman, June 23, 1952, p. 7.

Brooks, Raymond. “His Duty—Was ‘Beyond The Call.’” Austin American, August 5, 1952, p. 11.

“Former Arkansan’s Son to Get Medal of Honor Posthumously.” Arkansas Gazette, August 1, 1952, p. 6.

“Marine Hero Honored.” Austin American-Statesman, August 4, 1952, p. 1.

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

“Rites to Be Held for Heroic Marine in Arkansas Monday.” Arkansas Gazette, August 3, 1952, p. 16.

“Whitt Lloyd Moreland.” Texas State Cemetery. https://cemetery.tspb.texas.gov/pub/user_form.asp?pers_id=11210 (accessed December 11, 2020).

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System

Last Updated: 12/11/2020

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