Duluth Soldier’s Medal of Honor Finally Comes Home
Henry A. Courtney's Medal of Honor installed at the Depot.
DULUTH, Minn.- On December 30th, 1947, Duluthian Henry A. Courtney was awarded a medal of honor. That medal transferred hands for decades, before returning to Duluth on Wednesday.
Courtney, a U.S. Marine, gave his life leading his troops on Sugar Loaf Hill in the Battle of Okinawa, Japan during World War II.
Then President, Harry S. Truman, awarded Courtney the medal of honor posthumously.
The medal was held at the home of a family member of Courtney’s, before it was given to the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.
After tracking it down and working with the Freedom Foundation, Courtney’s family and members of the St. Louis County Historical Society officially installed the medal in the Veterans Memorial Hall of the Depot Wednesday. A struggle which took 39 years.
The medal is currently on loan from the Freedoms Foundation, but Veterans Memorial Hall said they hope they can continue a partnership with the foundation and earn their trust in keeping the medal.
Veterans joined the family in honoring Courtney’s legacy. They said they share a special connection to the Duluthian who gave all.
“It’s a special honor because I too served as a marine,” said Mike Stainbrook, a Captain U.S. Marine Corps who served as the Emcee. “And there’s a kinship among all veterans.”
“I think it’s a fitting tribute. I think it reminds us of Henry Courtney’s heroism, also his love for his family and his country and for his fellow marines.”
Courtney’s nephews read letters he had sent from battle, before presenting the medal and installing it.
According to one, if he were here, he wouldn’t want his story to be glorified, he would want it to be learned from.
“He’d be the last one to say he should receive the award,” said Robert “Bob” Storey. “He was doing what he felt was his duty. I don’t think he looked upon it as any way extraordinary.
As for the medal, Storey said it is where it belongs.
“It’s where it should be where the people can see it, honor his service, honor his gallantry, and learn.”
Courtney’s remains are barried in Calvary Cemetery in Duluth.