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EVERHART, FORREST EUGENE, SR.
EVERHART, FORREST EUGENE, SR. (1922–1986). Forrest Eugene Everhart, Sr., Medal of Honor recipient, was born on August 28, 1922, in Bainbridge, Ross County, Ohio. He was the son of Thomas Henry Everhart and Alice (Beatty) Everhart. As a youngster, he attended the local school in Bainbridge but left high school after two years. He also first learned to shoot a rifle when he developed an interest in squirrel hunting. In January 1940 Everhart enlisted in the Ohio National Guard as a member of Company H, 166th Infantry Regiment in Chillicothe. The 166th was attached to the Ohio National Guard’s Thirty-seventh Infantry Division. On October 15, 1940, the Thirty-seventh Infantry was called to active duty as the nation prepared for World War II.
On active duty, Everhart underwent intense military training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and was assigned guard duty with his battalion in Texas City, Texas, along the Gulf of Mexico. In Texas, Everhart met Dorothy Hudson of Texas City. They married on July 10, 1943, and would have six children. In December 1943 Everhart was assigned to Company H, 359th Infantry Regiment of the Ninetieth Infantry Division (known as the “Tough ‘Ombres,” “Texas’ Own,” and the “Alamo” division). On March 23, 1944, the Ninetieth embarked from New York for the European theater of the war. It arrived in England on April 5 and began to train for D-Day and Operation Overlord.
The Ninetieth Division experienced some major problems during the Normandy campaign. Elements of the division landed in Normandy on Utah beach on D-Day June 6. On the morning of June 7, the troopship, Susan B. Anthony, transporting Everhart’s unit, the 359th IR, hit a mine in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy and sank. Other ships pulled alongside the doomed vessel and rescued the troops. After the 359th IR landed in Normandy, it fought in support of the Fourth Infantry Division for three days. Although well-trained and equipped for combat, the Ninetieth Division was ill-prepared for fighting in hedgerow terrain and suffered heavy casualties. On June 13, Everhart suffered a leg wound from shrapnel that led to a month of hospitalization in England. In August, Everhart took another blow when a piece of shrapnel hit him in the face under his right eye. The wound caused Everhart discomfort for the rest of his life.
Near Kerling, in northeastern France, Technical Sergeant Everhart faced his greatest challenge during World War II. On November 12, 1944, German tanks and infantry forces in a predawn strike threatened to overrun the unit’s left flank and machine gunner. As the platoon commander, Everhart took immediate action, racing 400 yards and through hostile fire, until he reached the machine gun. Everhart directed fire toward the Germans and then engaged the enemy in a fifteen-minute grenade attack that killed thirty and forced the rest to withdraw. Everhart than ran to his threatened right flank and fought the enemy with grenades. His actions forced them to retreat and killed another twenty Germans. Praised for his “gallantry and intrepidity” that halted a German attack, Everhart was recommended for the Medal of Honor.
Suffering from trench foot, Everhart was removed from combat a few days after the Kerling battle. Evacuated first to England, he subsequently spent several months at Stark General Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, and the post hospital at Camp Carson, Colorado. Everhart received his military discharge on July 20, 1945, and then traveled to Texas City to join his wife and his son Forrest E. Everhart, Jr.
On August 23, 1945, President Harry Truman presented the Medal of Honor to Technical Sergeant Forrest Everhart and twenty-seven others in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. Congress credited his award to Texas from where he had deployed as part of the Ninetieth Division. A few days later, Everhart returned to Bainbridge, Ohio, where a parade was given in his honor. Accompanied with his parents, his wife, and his child, the young war hero took much delight in the festivities. The townspeople also presented him with a jar containing more than $300 in silver dollars that they had collected as a token of appreciation.
Everhart remained in Ohio after receiving his discharge. In 1946 he accepted employment with the Veterans Administration (VA) in southern Ohio. Upon his retirement from the VA after thirty-seven years, he was awarded the Distinguished Career award. In his final years, Everhart lived in Zanesville, Ohio. On August 30, 1986, Everhart died after a long battle with lung cancer. Forrest Everhart was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was survived by his wife and six children.
The Forrest E. Everhart Memorial Golf Course on the campus of the Chillicothe VA Medical Center is named in his honor.
Chillicothe Gazette, August 24, 1945. Columbus (Ohio) Citizen, August 25, 1945. Columbus (Ohio) Evening Dispatch, August 25, 1945. Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Medal of Honor Citation: Everhart, Forrest E. (http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-detail/2731/everhart-forrest-e.php), accessed October 13, 2016. Greenfield (Ohio) Daily Times, September 4, 1986. John C. McManus, The Americans At Normandy: The Summer of 1944—The American War from the Normandy Beaches to Falaise (New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 2004). Zanesville Times Recorder, May 28, 1967.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Henry Franklin Tribe , "EVERHART, FORREST EUGENE, SR.," accessed September 20, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fevnx.
Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on July 11, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.