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KILMER, JOHN E. (1930–1952). John E. Kilmer, Medal of Honor recipient, was born at Highland Park, Illinois, and entered military service in Texas. Hospitalman John E. Kilmer, United States Navy, was attached to a rifle company of the First Marine Division, in action against enemy forces in Korea on August 13, 1952. His company was engaged in defending a vitally important hill position well forward of the main line of resistance. Kilmer repeatedly braved intense enemy mortar, artillery, and sniper fire as he moved from position to position, administering aid to the wounded, and assisting in their evacuation. Even after he was wounded by mortar fragments, he inched his way through a hail of enemy fire to the side of a stricken marine. While he was tending to the wounds of his comrade, the enemy launched another barrage into the immediate area. Kilmer covered the wounded Marine with his own body and was himself mortally wounded by the mortar fire. By his gallant self-sacrifice, he saved the life of a comrade. The San Antonio Express-News of May 21, 1989, reported that Kilmer was the only San Antonian to receive the Medal of Honor for service in Korea. He is buried in San José Burial Park, San Antonio.


Committee on Veterans' Affairs, United States Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863–1973 (Washington: GPO, 1973).

Art Leatherwood


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Art Leatherwood, "KILMER, JOHN E.," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 30, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.