Army Medal of Honor Citation

Navy Medal of Honor Citation

For "heroism above and beyond the call of duty" in action against the enemy on 18 July 1918, Sgt Matej Kocak was posthumously awarded both the Army and Navy Medals of Honor. Almost three months later, on 4 October 1918, he was killed in action by enemy gunfire in the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge in France while serving as a member of the 66th Company, 5th Regiment.

Matej Kocak was born in Austria, near the Czechoslovakian Hungarian border in 1882. He emigrated to the United States in 1906, and on 16 October 1907, enlisted in the Marine Corps in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and began his 11-year Marine Corps career at Marine Barracks, League Island, Pennsylvania. He was discharged 16 October 1911 at the expiration of his first enlistment but reenlisted in New York City on 26 December and was assigned to the Marine Barracks, Navy Yard, New York, for duty.

During his second enlistment, he served with the U.S. Army at Vera Cruz, Mexico, from 30 April to 23 November 1914. His enlistment ended on 25 December 1915 at Marine Barracks, New York, New York, but he again reenlisted and transferred to Marine Barracks, Naval Station, New Orleans, Louisiana.

The following year, he was ashore in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where he participated in skirmishes with native bandits in Las Canitas, Azua Province, Dominican Republic. Appointed to the rank of corporal 23 March 1917, he then returned to the United States where he joined the 12th Company at Quantico, Virginia.

By 31 December 1917, he was again overseas, this time at St. Nazaire, France. The following 23 January he joined the 66th Company, 5th Regiment, and on 1 June 1918, was promoted to sergeant and then took part in the attack against the enemy in Bois De Belleau Bouresches sector northwest of Chateau Thierry, France. On 18 July 1918, he participated in the attack at Villers Cotteret Wood south of Soissons, France, and it was on this day he performed the act of heroism for which he was posthumously awarded both the Army and Navy Medal of Honor.

1-4 October 1918, found him taking part in the Allied drive against the enemy in the Argonne Forest between the Moselle and Forest of Argonne in the vicinity of Blanchmont in Champagne, France, and in the attack against the enemy in the St. Mihiel sector in the vicinity of Thiaucourt, France. He was killed in action 4 October 1918, and is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Romagne, France.

World War I Medal of Honor

Marine Corps University