Freddie Stowers is an African-American hero of the First World War, born in Sandy Springs, South Carolina, on January 12, 1896 and fallen in action on September 28, 1918 in Ardeuil-et-Monfauxelles in the Ardennes.
Incorporated into the 371st Infantry Regiment, the South African Volunteer Regiment of South Carolina, Stowers, assigned to the Ardennes with his unit, took a particularly glorious part on September 28, 1918, on the assault on Hill 188, near Ardeuil-et-Monfauxelles.
The Germans, who defended a machine gun position, pretended to surrender to the Stowers Company, which lost, at the moment when the enemy opened fire again, half of its strength.
The officers having been killed and the troops panicked Corporal Stowers took command of a small group to assault.
It was during this action, which drove the Germans out of their position, that Stowers was mown down by machine-gun fire.
He was buried in the Meuse Argonne American Cemetery , near Romagne-sous-Montfaucon.
On April 24, 1991, Corporal Stowers was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President George Bush with the following statement:
“Cpl. Stowers, distinguished himself by exceptional heroism on September 28, 1918 while serving as a squad leader in Company C, 371st Infantry Regiment, 93d Infanry Division. His company was the lead company during the attack on Hill 188, Champagne Marne Sector, France, during World War I. A few minutes after the attack began, the enemy ceased firing and began climbing up onto the parapets of the trenches, holding up their arms as if wishing to surrender. The enemy’s actions caused the American forces to cease fire and to come out into the open. As the company started forward and when within about 100 meters of the trench line, the enemy jumped back into their trenches and greeted Corporal Stowers’ company with interlocking bands of machine-gun fire and mortar fire causing well over fifty percent casualties. Faced with incredible enemy resistance, Cpl. Stowers took charge, setting such a courageous example of personal bravery and leadership that he inspired his men to follow him in the attack. With extraordinary heroism and complete disregard of personal danger under devastating fire, he crawled forward leading his squad toward an enemy machine-gun nest, which was causing heavy casualties to his company. After fierce fighting, the machine-gun position was destroyed and the enemy soldiers were killed. Displaying great courage and intrepidity Cpl. Stowers continued to press the attack against a determined enemy. While crawling forward and urging his men to continue the attack on a second trench line, he was gravely wounded by machine-gun fire. Although Cpl. Stowers was mortally wounded, he pressed forward, urging on the members of his squad, until he died. Inspired by the heroism and display of bravery of Cpl. Stowers, his company continued the attack against incredible odds, contributing to the capture of Hill 188 and causing heavy enemy casualties. Cpl. Stowers’ conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism, and supreme devotion to his men were well above and beyond the call of duty, follow the finest traditions of military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.”