WWI 4ID Soldier receives the Medal of Honor


WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 3, 2015) -- A pair of World War I Soldiers were inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon, June 3, one day after the upgrade of their Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor, posthumously. The President awarded the Medal of Honor to Sgt. William Shemin, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment (Raiders), 4th Infantry Division for actions during World War I.

From Aug. 7-9, 1918, during the Aisne-Marne Offensive in France, Shemin distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty. His Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), citation reads: 

"For extraordinary heroism in action on the Vesle River, near Bazoches, August 7, 8, 9, 1918. Sergeant Shemin, upon three different occasions, left (cover) and crossed an open space of 150 yards, exposed to heavy machine gun fire to rescue the wounded. After officers and senior noncommissioned officers had become causalities, Sergeant Shemin took command of the platoon and displayed great initiative under fire until wounded August 9." 

Shemin was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, in 1896. In 1917, he joined the Army during World War I. He was assigned as a rifleman in Company G, 47th Infantry Regiment, which moved from New York to North Carolina, becoming part of the 4th Division. The division was part of the American Expeditionary Forces in France.

The 47th Infantry Regiment was assigned to the 7th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. The regiment took part in four European campaigns during World War I with 40 of its members receiving the DSC. 

"With the most utter disregard for his own safety, (Shemin) sprang from his position in his platoon trench, dashed out across the open in full sight of the Germans, who opened and maintained a furious burst of machine gun and rifle fire," said Capt. Rupert Purdon, one of Shemin's supervisors.

Shemin survived that moment with only shrapnel injuries. Later, Shemin was hit in the head with a bullet from a machine gun. This along with his prior injuries saw Shemin hospitalized for three months. He received the DSC and Purple Heart Dec. 29, 1919, for his actions.

Shemin was honorably discharged from the Army in 1919. From there he went to Syracuse University where he played lacrosse and football while earning a degree from the New York State College of Forestry. After graduating, he opened a greenhouse and landscaping business and raised three children with his wife, Bertha. He died in 1973 and was buried in Staten Island, New York.