|Young Alfred Medendorp in Grand Rapids|
Alfred attended South High School and then at just nineteen years of age, married Dorothy Schutt from Dayton, Ohio during the summer of 1927. He set up a chiropractor business while they lived on Division Avenue near Burton Heights and shortly after, they moved to Griggs Street. Alfred and Dorothy parented three children. He was a graduate of the National College of Chiropractic in Chicago.
Sometime toward the end of the 1930s, Alfred joined the local 126th Infantry National Guard unit at the old Michigan Street Armory near Ionia and Division. When the Guard nationwide was activated in the fall of 1940 for a year of training, then Lieutenant Medendorp left with the 126th for Camp Beauregard, Louisiana where they trained for "modern" warfare on potentially a European battlefield. But December 7, 1941 changed all of that.
|U.S. Soldiers on the beach at Buna|
Medendorp and the regiment were shipped that summer to Australia where they continued to train and for what they thought would be the defense of that continent. But MacArthur had different plans and instead threw the unprepared Red Arrows -- with the 126th in the lead -- into jungle warfare in an grueling effort to defeat the Japanese on New Guinea. Medendorp was put in command of two companies that would attempt to traverse the Owen-Stanley Mountain range that split the island in two. The purpose was to beat back the Japanese forces and eventually drive them into the sea.
The Red Arrow Division went on to route the stubborn Japanese at Buna at the cost of hundreds of dead or missing soldiers and thousands of wounded. After rebuilding with new replacements during a rest-and-recovery period in Australia, the 126th continued the fight through Leyte, Luzon and eventually the Philippines. The regiment's last duty of World War II was the occupation of Japan. Along with the rest of the 32nd Division, it had seen a record 654 days of combat.
|Posing with his sister-in-law|
Back in Grand Rapids, his father said he had written the previous June that "Chinese Reds" were then firing on the island. Colonel Medendorp told him the Reds had offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of any American officer and that the situation was such that he and other U.S. Army men did not dare step outside their quarters unarmed.
|A simple military headstone marks the grave of Medendorp|
A Chinese epitaph states:
US military Lt. Col. Alfred Medendorp, a former member of the U. S. Army Military Assistance Group was killed in combat at the Kinmen Shuitou Wharf during the Artillery Bombardment of September 3rd (September 1954). He died in action under the fire of the Communist China’s artillery. He was 47 years old (1907-1954).
In the fall of 1954, on the eve of the Southeast Asia Convention, Communist China attempt to exert pressure over the nations attending the convention to influence the agenda of the convention. Driven by a desire to pound the Kinmen area in a surprise offensive, China bombarded a navy vessel docked at Shuitou Wharf to strengthen its international clout, thus bringing to reality its political blackmail scheme. Since Communist China dared not launch a direct offensive, it resorted to the violent bombardment of Kinmen.
September 3, 3:00 p.m. Communist Chinese artillery began pounding the islands of Kinmen (Greater Quemoy and Lesser Quemoy), and sending surprise attacks on Shuitou Wharf. Kinmen Defense Commander Gen. Liu Yu-Chang immediately ordered the artillery troops to launch counter strikes to suppress the Chinese attacks. Communist China pounded Kinmen for two straight hours that day, and continued to launch fragment cannon attacks until 8 in the evening. None of the villages along the coasts of the Kinmen Islands had been spared. The military accounted over 5,000 rounds had been fired to Kinmen. The offensive was a prologue of the cross-strait artillery battles between Communist China and Taiwan.
(Artillery Bombardment of September 3rd) In the fifteen-day period that followed September 3rd, Communist Chinese fired 8,767 cannon rounds towards the Kinmen area. The attacks damaged the Shuitou Wharf and several civilian housings, as well as killed over 10 military personnel; Lt. Col. Alfred Medendorp of the United States Military was among those killed in action. The heroic fighting spirit of the front defense line awed the Communist Chinese troops and earned the respect and admiration of the ROC and foreign nationals.
In memory of the unselfish and heroic sacrifice of Lt. Col. Medendorp, the R.O.C. Government issued a “Cloud and Banner Medal” of honor award to him. In 1992, upon the request of the National Guard Association of the United States, the government erected a monument at the spot where Lt. Col. Medendorp was killed. The monument was designed and constructed under the supervision of the contemporary Lieh-Yu Division Commander - Army Major General Kao Hua-Chu and the incumbent Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Commission. Following the completion of the stone, the Chief of the General Staff, General First Class Liu Ho-Chien inscribed the memorial epitaph. The stone (Lt. Col. Alfred Medendorp monument) was erected on August 7, 1992.
The monument inscription:
Lieutenant Colonel, Army of the United States
U. S. Army Military Assistance Group
first U. S. soldier killed in action
at this location during hostile artillery bombardment
3 September 1954
Colonel Medendorp, a National Guard officer from the
State of Michigan, volunteered to help defend freedom
After distinguished combat service in WWII.
Awarded the Republic of China
Order of the Cloud and Banner
Dedicated. 1992 Republic of China
in coordination with
National Guard Association of the United States