Fort McCoy News June 12, 2015

MOH recipient, former McCoy Soldier honored

Two Fort McCoy community members participated in national-level Memorial Day events in Washington, D.C.

Medal of Honor (MOH) recipient and former Fort McCoy Soldier retired Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Stumpf of Tomah, Wis., and his daughter, Jobi Spolum, Marketing director at the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, paid their respects at the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall, and then Stumpf participated in and then was honored during the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) First-Day-of-Issue Stamp Dedication Ceremony for a new stamp series honoring Vietnam War MOH recipients.

Retired Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Stumpf of Tomah, Wis., and his daughter,
Jobi Spolum, Marketing director at the Directorate of Family and
Morale, Welfare and Recreation, have their photo taken near the
presentation board for a new stamp series honoring Vietnam War
Medal of Honor recipients during a ceremony May 25 at the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. Spolum is pointing to a
photo of her father on the folio.
Contributed photo

Stumpf was among 11 Vietnam War MOH recipients to attend. His photograph is one of 48 to be featured on the presentation folio.

Spolum said it was an honor to be there with her father.

"Being with my father at the stamp dedication ceremony was very special," Spolum said. "It was an honor to be there to pay tribute to all of those who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. I can tell you each and every Medal of Honor recipient who was there wears their medal for all veterans, especially those who did not make it home."

In 2013, the USPS issued its first folio of MOH stamps for recipients from World War II. In 2014, it followed up with a folio recognizing recipients from the Korean War. This year, USPS and 11 of the Vietnam MOH recipients dedicated its latest folio, Medal of Honor: Vietnam War Forever, at the Wall.

Other than the inscription, the three stamps are identical to those issued for World War II and the Korean War — the Army version; the Air Force version; and the Navy version, which also serves for the Marine Corps and Coast Guard. While the medals are variations of a five-point star, the light-blue ribbon with stars is uniform across the services.

"The postal families of more than 600,000 employees salute the 2.7 million Americans who served in Vietnam," said Postal Service Chief Operating Officer David Williams in an Army News Service article. "We stand in awe of the 258 Medal of Honor recipients, who distinguished themselves through unfathomable circumstances — especially the six of 10 who received our nation's highest recognition of valor posthumously."

Stumpf retired from the Army at Fort McCoy in September 1994 after 29 years of service. At the time of his retirement, Stumpf was serving with Readiness Group-Fort McCoy.

Stumpf, a native of Menasha, Wis., was awarded the MOH for actions taken April 25, 1967, in Vietnam. Then-Spc. Stumpf, a squad leader, and six of his squad members encountered a North Vietnamese rifle company occupying a well-fortified bunker complex while conducting a search-and-destroy mission, according to the official MOH citation.

During the initial contact, three men from his squad fell wounded in front of a hostile machine gun emplacement. The enemy's heavy volume of fire prevented the unit from moving to the aid of the injured men, but Stumpf left his secure position in a deep trench and ran through the barrage of incoming rounds to reach his wounded comrades.

Stumpf picked up one of the men and carried him back to the safety of the trench. Twice more, Stumpf dashed forward while the enemy turned automatic weapons and machine guns upon him, yet he managed to rescue the remaining two wounded squad members. He then organized his squad and led an assault against the enemy because the squad was receiving heavy fire from several bunkers.

Stumpf and his squad successfully eliminated two of the bunker positions, but one to the front of the advancing platoon remained a serious threat. Arming himself with extra hand grenades, Stumpf ran over open ground, through a volley of fire directed at him by a determined enemy, toward the machine-gun position. As he reached the bunker, he threw a hand grenade through the aperture. It was immediately returned by the occupants, forcing Stumpf to take cover.

Undaunted, he pulled the pins on two more grenades, held them for a few seconds after activation, then hurled them into the position, this time successfully destroying the emplacement. With the elimination of this key position, his unit was able to assault and overrun the enemy.

   (Article prepared by the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office and Army News Service.)