Emory Jenison Pike

          Emory J Pike     Emory J Pike

Photos by Kent Kooi

World War I Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. He was posthumously awarded the CMOH for meritorious actions near Vandieres, France, on September 15, 1918. He was Lieutenant Colonel and Division Machinegun Officer for the 82nd Division, and the first member of the 82nd Division to be awarded the Medal of Honor. (The second was Sergeant Alvin York.) Colonel Pike went forward during heavy artillery shelling to reconnoiter new positions for his guns. He rounded up several infantry platoons that had become dispersed during the shelling. When an enemy shell wounded one of the soldiers, he immediately went to his aid and was severely wounded himself. He continued to direct his men until he and the other wounded were removed from the field. Colonel Pike died of his wounds the following day, September 16, 1918. He was first buried in France, and later returned to the United States. He was born in 1876 in Columbus City, Iowa, where his father was a Methodist minister. The family later moved several counties west to Sigourney, Iowa, where Pike graduated high school in 1894. He then graduated West Point with the class of 1901 (Pike was 73d in his class of 74).He served with the 2nd United States Cavalry in Cuba and the United States. In 1914, he was a Distinguished Service Graduate from the Army's School of the Line, and in 1915 completed the Army Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. Promoted from Captain to Major, he was assigned as an instructor at the School of the Line at Fort Leavenworth. In April 1918 Pike went to Europe with his Division, and was killed in action. His Medal of Honor was presented to his daughter, Martha. Major General J.M. Wainwright, Assistant Chief of Staff, 82nd Division, wrote to Colonel Pike's mother informing her of his death. In his letter, Wainwright wrote: "He has been recommended for the Medal of Honor...When my time comes I only hope I can die as gallantly as did your son..." (bio by: Kent Kooi) 


From Iowa Wesleyan College Archives....
Pike matriculated at West Point in 1897, and graduated a year early like all cadets at the time due to the Spanish-American War.  No scholar, ranked lowest in his class and earned the dubious distinction of compiling the second highest number of demerits in his class of 1901 for such infractions as playing poker, throwing bread, asking irrelevant questions, and grinning while being disciplined.  He served in Cuba and the Philippines before joining the 82nd Division as Machine Gun commander after entered WWI.
Rank and Organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, Division Machinegun Officer, 82d Division. Place and Date: Near Vandieres, France, 15 September 1918.  Entered Service At: Des Moines, Iowa.  Birth: Columbia City, Iowa. G. O. No.: 16, W.D., 1919.
Having gone forward to reconnoiter new machinegun positions, Lt. Col. Pike offered his assistance in reorganizing advance infantry units which had become disorganized during a heavy artillery shelling.  He succeeded in locating only about 20 men, but with these he advanced and when later joined by several infantry platoons rendered inestimable service in establishing outposts, encouraging all by his cheeriness, in spite of the extreme danger of the situation.  When a shell had wounded one of the men in the outpost, Lt. Col. Pike immediately went to his aid and was severely wounded himself when another shell burst in the same place.  While waiting to be brought to the rear, Lt. Col. Pike continued in command, still retaining his jovial manner of encouragement, directing the reorganization until the position could be held.  The entire operation was carried on under terrific bombardment, and the example of courage and devotion to duty, as set by Lt. Col. Pike, established the highest standard of morale and confidence to all under his charge.  The wounds he received were the cause of his death.
On December 18, 1876 he was born in Columbus City [Louisa County], the fifth of ten children. His father was a Methodist minister. His great uncle was explorer Zebulon Pike, the discoverer of Pike’s Peak in Colorado.  Emory graduated from high school in Sigourney, Iowa, and entered West Point at age 20.  At age 24 he married Ethel Trigg who was fifteen. They had five children.

Contributed by Pat White

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