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USCIS Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina Field Office and Application Support Center

Marine Corps Sergeant Matej Kocak – World War I

Matej Kocak was born in Austria, near the Czechoslovakian Hungarian border in 1882. He emigrated to the United States in 1906, and enlisted in the Marine Corps from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Oct. 16, 1907.

Sergeant Kocak was initially awarded the Army Medal of Honor, and subsequently was awarded the Navy Medal of Honor for the same act. He is one of five Marines to receive both awards in World War I. 

On July 18, 1918, he performed the extraordinary act of heroism while serving with the 66th Company, 5th Regiment (Marines), 2d Division, A.E.F. in action at Soissons, France. When the advance of his battalion was checked by a hidden machine-gun nest, he went forward alone, unprotected by covering fire from his own men, and worked in between the German positions in the face of fire from enemy covering detachments. Locating the machine -gun nest, he rushed it and with his bayonet drove off the crew. Shortly after this he organized 25 French colonial soldiers who had become separated from their company and led them in attacking another machine-gun nest, which was also put out of action. 

Almost three months later, on Oct. 4, 1918, he was killed in action by enemy gunfire in the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge in France. He was killed in action on Oct. 4, 1918, and is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Romagne, France.

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: 03/25/2011