On this Memorial Day weekend, we need to pause and honor those who served our country so unselfishly throughout the history of our country. Many of the young men and women who have given their lives for this country have been Red Raiders. I’d like to tell you about one gentleman – Red Raider, who I had the pleasure to know, play golf, and share an adult beverage or twelve with.
George Herman O’Brien, Jr. was born in Ft. Worth in 1926. He graduated from Big Spring High School in 1944. After high school, Georgie served as a seaman in the US Merchant Marine until May of 1946. It was then that he enrolled in Texas Tech, graduating in 1950 with a degree in Geology.
While at Tech, he had enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserve. Upon graduation, Georgie was ordered to active duty in 1951 and went immediately to Officers Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia. From there, Lieutenant O’Brien was shipped to Camp Pendleton, California for further training and then was deployed to Korea in September 1952. He was assigned to the 1st Marine Division.
By October, 1952, he was serving as a second lieutenant with H Company of the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Division. On the 27th of October, George spearheaded the capture of an enemy-held hill in an area of Korea known as "The Hook". On the command to engage, George sprang from his fox hole and began to lead his troops in the assault. Not too long into the charge, George was shot in the arm…..
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Rifle Platoon Commander of Company H, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, in an action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 27 October, 1952. With his platoon subjected to an intense mortar and artillery bombardment while preparing to assault a vitally important hill position on the main line of resistance which had been overrun by a numerically superior enemy force on the preceding night, Second Lieutenant O’Brien leaped from his trench when the attack signal was given and, shouting for his men to follow raced across an exposed saddle and up the enemy-held hill through a virtual hail of deadly small-arms, artillery and weapons fire. Although shot through the arm and thrown to the ground by hostile automatic-weapons fire as he neared the well-entrenched enemy position, he bravely regained his feet, waved his men onward and continued to spearhead the assault, pausing only long enough to go the aid of a wounded Marine. Encountering the enemy at close range, he proceeded to hurl hand grenades into the bunkers and, utilizing his carbine to best advantage in savage hand to hand combat, succeeded in killing at least three of the enemy. Struck down by the concussion of grenades on three occasions during the subsequent action, he steadfastly refused to be evacuated for medical treatment and continued to lead his platoon in the assault for a period of nearly four hours, repeatedly encouraging his men and maintaining superb direction of the unit. With the attack halted, he set up a defense with his remaining forces to prepare for a counterattack, personally checking on each position, attending to the wounded and expediting their withdrawal and to assure that no wounded were left behind. By his exceptionally daring and forceful leadership in the face of overwhelming odds, Second Lieutenant O’Brien served as a constant source of inspiration to all who observed him and was greatly instrumental in the recapture of a strategic position on the main line of resistance. His indomitable determination and valiant fighting spirit reflect the highest credit upon himself and enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
So the citation for the Medal of Honor reads which was presented to George by President Eisenhower the following year.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, he held the Purple Heart and Gold Star in lieu of a second award, the Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars and the United Nations Service Medal. On April 14, 2005, the Texas State House of Representatives and Senate unanimously passed a Resolution honoring George H. O’Brien, Jr. A scholarship at Texas Tech University which provides funding for US Marines and their children was named in his honor. Further, the VA Hospital in Big Spring where O’Brien volunteered bears a statue of his likeness.
Unlike so many who served in Korea, George came home and was able raise a family and a successful business in the petroleum industry of West Texas. Living in Midland, he never met a stranger, always had a cheerful way about him and was a dear friend to so many. After so many great years, Georgie passed on March 11, 2005. A marker was placed on the 8th tee box at Green Tree Country Club honoring him.
"This Medal of Honor is not mine. I hold it in trust for so many young people who didn’t become grandfathers". – George H. O’Brien, Jr.