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Thomas A. Pope, 94; Last Surviving Army WWI Medal of Honor Winner

June 21, 1989|From Times Wire Services

MAYWOOD, Ill. — The U.S. Army's last surviving World War I Medal of Honor winner has died at the age of 94.

Thomas A. Pope, who lived in Woodland Hills, Calif., and Norwood Park, Ill., died last Wednesday in Hines Veterans Hospital near this small Illinois city.

Although he saw action for only two days in World War I, Pope received commendations from four nations as well as the highest honor his own country could bestow.

On July 4, 1918, he was entering his second month in France without seeing any action. Then a corporal, he spotted a machine-gun nest. Waving to his platoon to lie low, he charged the nest, killing the gunner before he could swing the machine gun toward the platoon. He then bayoneted another German soldier and held off eight more Germans, whom his men then took prisoner.

Before the sun set that Independence Day, his platoon had taken 100 prisoners. The next day he was gassed and sent back from the lines to an Army hospital.

He became one of 95 U.S. soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor in the war and was the last surviving one. A Navy veteran is still alive.

In 1923 he became president of the Combat Medal Men, an organization of servicemen who held the Medal of Honor.

After the war, Pope served as a contract officer and adviser to the Veterans Administration and was district foreman for the Cook County Highway Department.

He will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

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