Cherokee Charles George, Korean War Medal of Honor Recipient

Cherokee Charles GeorgeOn November 30, 1952, Charles George died at age 20 near Songnae-dong, Korea. Private First Class George, a member of the 45th Infantry Division, had sustained injuries the night before when he threw himself on a grenade to shield his comrades.  With enemy forces near, George suffered from his wounds in silence to protect his company.

Born in 1932 within the Qualla Boundary of North Carolina, George was given the Cherokee name “Tsali,” which translates to English as Charles or Charlie. He grew up in Birdtown in Swain County before enlisting in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict.

For his bravery during the last hours of his life, George was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in 1954. His parents, who spoke no English and had never ventured beyond the North Carolina mountains, traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive the medal.

In 2002, the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Asheville was renamed in his memory.

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