John Koelsch

LTJG John Kelvin Koelsch

Medal Of Honor
HU-2 Helicopter Utility Detachment
Hostile, Died While Captured (POW)
Aircraft Type: HO3S-1
Aircraft Number: 122715
Date Of Loss: July 3, 1951
Service Number: 424476
Born: December 22, 1923
Home Or Place Of Enlistment
London, Great Britain
Location Or Battle Zone: North Korea
Town Or Area: Wonsan Area - Near Kosong
Burial Location
Arlington National Cemetery
Comments: Lieutenant Junior Grade Koelsch was the pilot of a HO3S-1 Sikorsky helicopter with Helicopter Squadron 2, aboard the aircraft carrier USS PRINCETON (CV-37). On July 3, 1951, when informed that a marine aviator had been shot down in the mountains near Kosong, North Korea, he volunteered to rescue the marine. Unarmed, he managed to get the badly burned marine on his helicopter only to have it shot down. He, his crewmen and the marine evaded the enemy the enemy for nine days then was taken prisoner. During captivity he refused to aid the enemy. He died as a prisoner on October 16, 1951. Born in London, England. Gravestone cites John Kelvin Koelsch.

Medal of Honor citation of Lieutenant (Junior Grade) John Kelvin Koelsch (as printed in the 1964 Congressional publication "Medal of Honor Recipients --1863-1963", page 764):"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with a Navy helicopter rescue unit in North Korea on 3 July 1951. Although darkness was rapidly approaching when information was received that a Marine aviator had been shot down and was trapped by the enemy in mountainous terrain deep in hostile territory, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Koelsch voluntarily flew a helicopter to the reported position of the downed airman in an attempt to effect a rescue. With an almost solid overcast concealing everything below the mountain peaks, he descended in his unarmed and vulnerable aircraft without the accompanying fighter escort to an extremely low altitude beneath the cloud level and began a systematic search. Despite the increasingly intense enemy fire, which struck his helicopter on one occasion, he persisted in his mission until he succeeded in locating the downed pilot, who was suffering from serious burns on the arms and legs. While the victim was being hoisted into the aircraft, it was struck again by an accurate burst of hostile fire and crashed on the side of the mountain. Quickly extricating his crewmen and the aviator from the wreckage, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Koelsch led them from the vicinity in an effort to escape from hostile troops, evading the enemy forces for 9 days and rendering such medical attention as possible to his severely burned companion until all were captured. Up to the time of his death while still a captive of the enemy, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Koelsch steadfastly refused to aid his captors in any manner and served to inspire his fellow prisoners by his fortitude and consideration for others. His great personal valor and heroic spirit of self- sacrifice throughout sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the United States naval service."

He was born in London, England, to Henry and Beulah Koelsch. His father was an international banker born in New York living with his family in London. His mother was a native of Minnesota. Koelsch was an American citizen. His brother Peter was born in Siberia and his brother Philip was born in England.
Son of Mrs. Beulah H. Koelsch of Los Angeles, California.

Korean War Project Key No: 35057

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December 22, 1923 





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Dedicated To - Arthur Donald DeLacy - 1st Lieutenant - USMCR - MIA POW - 10/07/1951 - Heartbreak Ridge