September 21, 2023

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Forrest E. Peden (October 3, 1913 – February 3, 1945) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military’s highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.

Peden joined the Army from Wathena, Kansas in February 1943, and by February 3, 1945 was serving as a technician fifth grade in Battery C, 10th Field Artillery Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division. On that day, near Biesheim, France, his unit was ambushed by a larger enemy force. After giving medical aid to two wounded soldiers, Peden ran for help despite intense enemy fire. He found a friendly tank and guided it to the ambush site, but was killed when the tank was hit by hostile fire. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor a year later, on February 13, 1946.

Aged 31 at his death, Peden was buried at Mount Olive Cemetery in Troy, Kansas.

Technician Peden’s official Medal of Honor citation reads:

He was a forward artillery observer when the group of about 45 infantrymen with whom he was advancing was ambushed in the uncertain light of a waning moon. Enemy forces outnumbering the Americans by 4 to 1 poured withering artillery, mortar, machinegun, and small-arms fire into the stricken unit from the flanks, forcing our men to seek the cover of a ditch which they found already occupied by enemy foot troops. As the opposing infantrymen struggled in hand-to-hand combat, Technician Peden courageously went to the assistance of 2 wounded soldiers and rendered first aid under heavy fire. With radio communications inoperative, he realized that the unit would be wiped out unless help could be secured from the rear. On his own initiative, he ran 800 yards to the battalion command post through a hail of bullets which pierced his jacket and there secured 2 light tanks to go to the relief of his hard-pressed comrades. Knowing the terrible risk involved, he climbed upon the hull of the lead tank and guided it into battle. Through a murderous concentration of fire the tank lumbered onward, bullets and shell fragments ricocheting from its steel armor within inches of the completely exposed rider, until it reached the ditch. As it was about to go into action it was turned into a flaming pyre by a direct hit which killed Technician Peden. However, his intrepidity and gallant sacrifice was not in vain. Attracted by the light from the burning tank, reinforcements found the beleaguered Americans and drove off the enemy.