Clayton Kirk Slack – Private, United States Army

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Born at Plover, Wisconson, February 23, 1896, he earned the Medal of Honor in World War I while serving with Company D, 124th Machine Gun Battalion, 33rd Division, near Consenvoye, France, October 18, 1918.

Observing German soldiers under cover 50 yards away on his left flank, upon his own initiative, he rushed them with his rifle and, singlehandedly, captured ten prisoners and two heavy machineguns, thus saving his company and neighboring organizations from heavy casualties.

He died on March 1, 1976 and was buried in Section 34 of Arlington National Cemetery.


SLACK, CLAYTON K.

Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company D, 124th Machine Gun  Battalion, 33d Division. Place and date: Near Consenvoye, France, 8 October 1918. Entered service at: Madison, Wisconsin. Born: 23 February 1896, Plover, Wisconsin. G.O. No.: 16, W.D., 1919.

Citation:

Observing German soldiers under cover 50 yards away on the left flank, Pvt. Slack, upon his own initiative, rushed them with his rifle and, single-handed, captured 10 prisoners and 2 heavy-type machineguns, thus saving his company and neighboring organizations from heavy casualties.

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Clayton Slack, the only Portage County-born Medal of Honor winner, was cited for single-handedly clearing out a German machine gun nest. The incident occurred October 8, 1918, in the Meuse-Argonne, the biggest battle of World War I involving American troops. Slack, a private, spotted two Germans carrying ammunition and headed up a hill toward them.

When he arrived he met 10 Germans – considerably more than he'd expected. Slack shouted “hands up” and ran at them with his rifle and bayonet. The Germans, who thought he was at the head of a patrol, surrendered. He captured two machine guns and his action was credited with saving his unit heavy casualties.

General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force,
presented Slack with the medal. He received other decorations for rescuing
wounded Americans in no-man's land on two occasions.

Slack was born at Meehan Station, west of Plover, in 1896, and grew up there and in what is now the village of Whiting.

For a number of years after the war he toured the country with war films, and he met six presidents. Then he went into the resort business near Hayward.

In 1963 he attended a reunion of Medal of Honor winners at the White House, called by President John F. Kennedy on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the first presentation of the medal.

Slack died March 1, 1969, at the age of 80, and among his survivors were his wife, a son and a daughter. His funeral was in Hayward and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

He once said, “My whole life was changed when I won the medal. I never got far in school, and without it I would have probably been a farmer or worked in a machine shop.”

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