Brown, metal sign commemorating the Medal of Honor highway dedication. The sign contains white lettering that reads "MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS HIGHWAY", followed by the names of Holland's four medal of honor recipients.
John Essebagger, Jr was born in Holland, MI on 10-29-1928 to John D. Essebagger (1888–1954) and Clara F Knoll (1895–1945). John graduated from Holland High in 1946. On 7-21-1950, he married Mary Bell in Holland, MI.
John served in the US Army during the Korean War. He attained the rank of Corporal as a member of Company A, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. John was killed in action on 4-25-1951 near Popsudong, Korea. He was buried in Pilgrim Home Cemetery.
John was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery. His citation reads
"Distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. Committed to effect a delaying action to cover the 3d Battalion's withdrawal through Company A, Cpl. Essebagger, a member of 1 of 2 squads maintaining defensive positions in key terrain and defending the company's right flank, had participated in repulsing numerous attacks. In a frenzied banzai charge the numerically superior enemy seriously threatened the security of the planned route of withdrawal and isolation of the small force. Badly shaken, the grossly outnumbered detachment started to fall back and Cpl. Essebagger, realizing the impending danger, voluntarily remained to provide security for the withdrawal. Gallantly maintaining a l-man stand, Cpl. Essebagger raked the menacing hordes with crippling fire and, with the foe closing on the position, left the comparative safety of his shelter and advanced in the face of overwhelming odds, firing his weapon and hurling grenades to disconcert the enemy and afford time for displacement of friendly elements to more tenable positions. Scorning the withering fire and bursting shells, Cpl. Essebagger continued to move forward, inflicting destruction upon the fanatical foe until he was mortally wounded. Cpl. Essebagger's intrepid action and supreme sacrifice exacted a heavy toll in enemy dead and wounded, stemmed the onslaught, and enabled the retiring squads to reach safety. His valorous conduct and devotion to duty reflected lasting glory upon himself and was in keeping with the noblest traditions of the infantry and the U.S. Army."
Gift ofHolland DAV