William Sawelson was a Jewish American soldier who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for valor during World War I.
Sawelson was born on August 5, 1895, in Newark, New Jersey, and entered service in the U.S. Army, where he was assigned to the 312th Infantry or 78th Division.
At the Battle of Grand-Pre, France, on October 26, 1918, Sawelson heard a wounded man in a shell hole calling for water, and upon his own initiative, Sawelson left his shelter and crawled through heavy machine gun fire to where the man lay, giving what water he had in his canteen. Sawelson then went back to his own shell hole, obtained more water and was returning to the wounded man when he was killed by a machine gun bullet. For this display of herosim, the United States posthumously awarded Sawelson the Medal of Honor, America's highest military decoration, and presented the award to his father Jacob.
Sawelson is buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial east of the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon.
His medal citation reads:
Sources: Jewish Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, compiled by Seymour "Sy" Brody;
Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.
Photo: Public domain.