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Marine Corps Sergeant Louis Cukela - World War I

USCIS Hialeah, Florida Field Office and Application Support Center

Louis Cukela is a double recipient of the Medal of Honor, being awarded the Medal by both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy for the same acts of heroism in World War I. His actions also earned him decorations from France, Italy, and his native Yugoslavia.

Born in Sabenes, Austria, on May 1, 1888, Cukela immigrated to the United States in 1913 and settled in Minneapolis with his brother. He served in the Army from 1914 to 1916, and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1917.

Cukela earned his Medals of Honor and other decorations during the Battle of Soissons …


 "… for extraordinary heroism while serving with the 66th Company, 5th Regiment (Marines), 2d Division, A.E.F., at Villers-Cotterets, France, 18 July 1918.
When his company, advancing through a wood, met with strong resistance from an enemy strong point, Sergeant Cukela crawled out from the flank and made his way toward the German lines in the face of heavy fire, disregarding the warnings of his comrades.

“He succeeded in getting behind the enemy position and rushed a machinegun emplacement, killing or driving off the crew with his bayonet. With German hand grenades he then bombed out the remaining portion of the strong point, capturing four men and two damaged machine guns.”  —from Louis Cukela ’s Medal of Honor citation


Cukela’s heroism that day also earned him the U.S. Army Silver Star; France’s Medaille Militaire (he was the first Marine officer ever to receive this medal), Legion d'Honneur in the rank of Chevalier, Croix de Guerre with two palms, and another Croix de Guerre with silver star; Italy’s Croce al Merito di Guerra; and the Commander's Cross of the Royal Order of the Crown of Yugoslavia.

Cukela earned numerous promotions, and was advanced to major, effective upon his retirement, in 1940. He died March 19, 1956, at the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

This text is from the official citations, military historical records, obituaries and other text posted on the Internet, including HomeOfHeroes.com, and the Military Times Hall of Valor.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/29/2011