Herbert Butler Powell
Engagements: • World War II (1941 - 1945)• Korean War (1950 - 1953)
Herbert Butler Powell
Herbert Butler Powell was born in Monmouth, OR, on 13 July 1903. He joined the Oregon National Guard as a Private in 1919, rising to the rank of Sergeant. He received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1927 after graduating from the University of Oregon.
During World War II, Powell was Chief of Staff of the 75th Infantry Division, fighting in Europe. In the Korean War, Powell commanded the only U.S. regiment, the 17th Infantry, to reach the Yalu River. Prior to going to Fort Shafter, General Powell commanded the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks where he was known as the "Soldier's General." He briefly commanded the U.S. Army, Pacific for three months, from April to July 1956, as an interim commander for Lieutenant General Blackshear M. Bryan.
Following his Command at U.S. Army, Pacific, he later received promotions to Lieutenant General and General. Subsequent commands included Commanding General for the Third United States Army in Fort McPherson, Georgia, and Commanding General of the U.S. Continental Army Command, Fort Monroe, VA.
Other significant duties for General Powell were Commandant of the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, GA, and Deputy Commanding General for Reserve Forces at Fort Monroe.
After his retirement in 1963, President John F. Kennedy appointed him U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand, a post he filled from 1963 to 1967.
Medals, Awards and Badges
Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Cross Citation
The President of the United States of America, under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Colonel (Infantry) Herbert Butler Powell (ASN: 0-16684), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Commanding Officer of the 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Colonel Powell distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces near Pung-san, Korea, during the period from 1 through 21 November 1950. Colonel Powell's unit was viciously assaulted near Pung-san by a numerically superior force which threatened penetration of the leading elements. In the face of devastating hostile fire, Colonel Powell went forward and directed the employment of elements of his command and repulsed the attack. Later, while approaching Pincho-ri, a reconnaissance patrol detected an ambush in a narrow defile which the armored spearhead had entered. Although suffering from a severe leg injury sustained while organizing his men for counterattack and which was aggravated by the bitter cold weather, Colonel Powell scorning the withering barrage of fire, moved painfully through the impact area and, miraculously escaping death, reached the most forward elements of his command and directed intense supporting fire which rapidly dislodged the stubborn foe. Colonel Powell continued close personal liaison with forward echelons, fearlessly traveling hundreds of miles over rugged terrain, frequently through enemy sniper fire, to direct patrolling and reorganization in preparation for a major attack across the Ungi River.
General Orders: General Headquarters Far East Command: General Orders No. 172 (July 2, 1951)
Silver Star Medal Citation
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Colonel (Infantry) Herbert Butler Powell (ASN: 0-16684), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Commanding Officer of the 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. On 29 October 1950 Colonel Powell led his regiment in an amphibious landing at Iwon, Korea. Subsequent to landing, Colonel Powell by his aggressive leadership pushed inland over difficult and unfamiliar terrain to relieve the Republic of Korea forces in the vicinity of Pungsan, Korea, and ordered his regiment into action to meet the enemy. On 2 November 1950 an enemy force attacked his position and Colonel Powell personally visited front line units under heavy small arms and mortar fire to direct the fight. His example of leadership inspired the men to repel the attack. Colonel Powell's display of gallantry and fearless leadership reflects great credit upon himself and the military service.
General Orders: Headquarters, X Corps, General Orders No. 22 (November 4, 1950)
Powell was also a qualified Army Aviator.
Powell was inducted posthumously into the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication Hall of Achievement on 14 October 2004.
Death and Burial
General Herbert Butler Powell died in a nursing home in Williamsburg, VA, on 3 April 1998. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 11, Grave 536-2. He is buried next to his wife of 61 years, Beryl (King) Powell.
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