Racine Veterans Legacy Museum

Racine Medal of Honor



 Private First Class Harold C. Agerholm

United States Marine Corps 

Major John L. Jerstad

United States Army Air Corps 

On July 7, 1944 on the island of Saipan, of the Marianas Islands group, in the South Pacific, United States Marines and enemy Japanese forces were engaged in brutal hand-to-hand combat.  During the battle, Private First Class Harold C. Agerholm, a nineteen-year-old from Racine, located and appropriated an abandoned ambulance jeep.   During a three-hour period he single-handedly loaded and evacuated approximately 45 wounded men through the heaviest fighting to a field hospital in the rear.  Despite intense enemy fire, he ran out to aid two men whom he believed to be wounded marines, but was himself mortally wounded by a Japanese sniper.  For his courageous action, Private Agerholm was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor.

A duplicate Medal of Honor is now on display at Racine’s Legacy Museum & Veterans Center paying tribute to U.S. Marine PFC. Harold C. Agerholm. 

During a ceremony on September 17, 2008, Captain Matthew J. Grabowski of the U.S. Marine Corps formally presented the medal to the Legacy museum  at the Racine Veterans Center for permanent display. 

On August 1, 1943, Major Jerstad of Racine volunteered to lead a daring low-level attack against enemy oil refineries and military installations at Ploesti, Romania.  Three miles from the target, his B-24 bomber was badly damaged and set on fire by heavy antiaircraft guns.  Ignoring a suitable landing area, he led the formation on to the target and delivered a devastating blow to the refineries.  Meanwhile, the blaze inside his ship had become so intense that a safe landing was unlikely.  Therefore, he intentionally crashed his aircraft into the target, inflicting even greater damage to enemy installations.  His actions reflected great heroism and were an inspiration to his unit and an example to all U. S. Forces.  For conspicuous gallantry beyond the call of duty, Major Jerstad was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor

A duplicate Medal of Honor is now on display at Racine’s Legacy Museum & Veterans Center paying tribute to Maj. John L. Jerstad

During a ceremony in November 2008, Lt. Col. Daniel C. Miller, commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion in Milwaukee, formally presented the medal to the Legacy museum  at the Racine Veterans Center for permanent display. 

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The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government

Both duplicate  medals are on display honoring both  Private First Class Harold C. Agerholm and Major John L. Jerstad who both received Medals of Honor after dying in separate World War II battles.  The displays also include  life size manikins of both Agerholm and Jerstad  dressed in vintage uniforms, a timeline, narrative video, WWII artifacts and a wall size map detailing key events during WWII that both took part in.




Congressional Space Medal of Honor

Laurel B. Clark, M.D.

Captain, U.S. Navy Astronaut

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)



Laurel Clark graduated from Horlick High School in 1979 and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison on a United States Navy scholarship.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1983 and completed her Doctorate of Medicine in 1987. 

 Dr. Clark’s career as a Naval Officer includes training and qualification as an Undersea Medical Officer, Radiation Health Officer, Naval Submarine Medical Officer, Diving Medical Officer and Naval Flight Surgeon.  She served with the Navy SEALS and a Marine Corps Night-Attack Harrier Squadron. 

Lieutenant Commander Clark was selected by NASA in 1996 to train for space flight.  She qualified as a mission specialist and was assigned as an Astronaut to be part of a science and research mission aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia.  The mission launch date was January 16, 2003.  The Astronauts successfully conducted eighty scientific experiments in space and the mission ended on February 1, 2003 when the Columbia and her crew perished during reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere, just sixteen minutes before their scheduled landing.  Lieutenant Commander Clark was awarded a posthumous Space Medal of Honor.  A duplicate of this medal is on permanent display at the Legacy museum.


Along with the medal are many NASA photographs showing Captain Laurel Clark work on the space shuttle and a stunning portrait of Captain Clark  completed by the internationally known artist, George Pollard, for The Racine Legacy Museum and Veterans Center.  George Pollard is an internationally known portrait artist.  He began his illustrious career as a combat artist with the Marine Corp. in the Pacific during World War II.  Sgt. Pollard was ordered to do a portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt as well as General Douglas MacArthur.  He eventually did portraits of Presidents Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy and Reagan



Facts about Racine Gilbert Knapp Past Displays Racine Medal of Honor Recipients

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