Medal of Honor Recipients
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Recipients receive the Medal of Honor from the president on behalf of Congress. It was first awarded during the Civil War and eligibility criteria for the Medal of Honor have changed over time.
Recipients buried or memorialized here:
Private First Class Hector A. Cafferata, Jr. (Korea). Cafferata received the Medal of Honor while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, for extraordinary heroism as a rifleman with Company F, in Korea, November 28, 1950. Cafferata died in 2016 and is buried in Section 24, Site 30.
In 1945, Second Lieutenant Frederick Branch became the first African-American officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Born in North Carolina, in 1922, he graduated from Temple University in 1947 with a degree in physics. Branch developed the science program for Philadelphia's Murrell Dobbins High School and taught for 35 years, but World War II interrupted his education. Branch fought in the South Pacific in 1943, followed by officer training. He served in Korea but resigned in 1955 due to limited opportunities for advancement. Captain Branch was recognized for his role in desegregation of the armed forces. The U.S. Senate passed a resolution honoring his landmark commission in 1995, he received an NAACP award, and a building at Quantico's Officer Candidate School is named for him. Branch died April 10, 2005, and is buried in National Memorial Cemetery at Quantico (Section 17, Site 472).
Creadell J. Haley (1916–2000) was born in Oklahoma, where she and a brother were raised by an aunt and uncle. Haley graduated from Quincy High School in 1936 and enlisted in the Women's Army Air Corps (WAAC) in 1942. Her mechanical aptitude led to an opportunity to train as an aviation cadet. At the end of World War II, Haley was discharged at the rank of sergeant and continued her training as a pilot. She took her first solo flight in 1946. Sergeant Haley was the first woman, and only African-American, from Adams County, OK, to serve in the WAAC. This pioneer aviatrix became a Baha'i missionary to South America and composed hymns for her faith. She died November 2 in Washington, DC, and is buried in National Memorial Cemetery at Quantico (Section 5, Site 258).
Jack Hawkins was born in Texas on October 25, 1916, and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1939. He was with the Fourth Marines in the Philippines in the opening phase of WWII and was taken prisoner by the Japanese during the Battle of Corregidor in May 1942. After eleven months of captivity he escaped and joined a guerrilla force, earning the Distinguished Service Cross. In the Korean War he led a Marine battalion during the Inchon Landing and at the Chosin Reservoir and earned a Silver Star. He was promoted to full colonel in 1955 and instructed amphibious landings at Quantico. His background led to his selection to train and plan the failed April 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion for the CIA. He retired from active duty in 1965. He died May 17, 2013 and is interred in Section 22, Site 603.
Colonel William "Rich" Higgins, the chief of a 75-member U.S. Military Observer Group, a United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, was captured by a pro-Iranian Shiite Moslem group on Feb. 17, 1988 in Beirut. He was held hostage and killed by his kidnappers on July 6, 1990. A marker was placed in the memorial section until his body was found and repatriated. Colonel Higgins was interred on Dec. 30, 1991, in Section 23, Site 141.
Louis R. Lowery, a World War II Marine combat photographer, took the picture of the first U.S. flag rising on top of Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi in 1945. The flag was said to be the first U.S. flag flown over Japanese territory in World War II. He was interred on April 1, 1987 (Section 1, Site 6422).
General Lewis William Walt, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps from 1968–1971, had a career that spanned over 35 years and he served through three major wars. General Walt was awarded two Navy Crosses, one Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts. He was interred on May 11, 2000, in Section 17, Site 51 B.
Our cemetery history handout includes other notable burials and is available at National Memorial Cemetery at Quantico Administration Office.