The other day, Ted Lingelbach, City College Class of '58, who edits the high school's alumni newsletter, contacted me.
With Veterans Day coming up, he wanted to call my attention to the three City College graduates who were posthumously decorated with the Medal of Honor for heroism during World Wars I and II.
Several years ago, a plaque to Henry G. Costin, Milton E. Ricketts and Isadore Jachman was unveiled outside the City College auditorium.
Costin, who lived at 1041 Myrtle Ave., had gained fame playing football and baseball while a student at City College.
In 1916, he enlisted in Company H of the "Dandy Fifth," and was sent to the Mexican border, where he won several honors for marksmanship. With the outbreak of war with Germany, he was sent to Europe with Company H of the 115th Infantry, 29th Division.
While fighting in Alsace on Sept. 17, 1918, Costin and 60 of his comrades were trapped during a German gas attack.
Ignoring his personal safety, Costin rushed to the aid of his stricken soldiers, and rendered first aid until he fell semiconscious. He was sent to a hospital and for his efforts was awarded the Croix de Guerre.
Several weeks later, he rejoined the 115th near Verdun on the first day of the Meuse-Argonne offensive. In spite of heavy enemy fire, Costin was the first to volunteer as a member of an automatic rifle team to charge and dislodge a German machine gun nest that had pinned down the unit.
Costin, a 20-year-old private, was wearing the Croix de Guerre when he was fatally wounded.
Approved by Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, the Medal of Honor was awarded for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Bois-de-Consenvoye, France."
It was presented to Costin's widow, Hythron Costin, in a ceremony April 4, 1919, at the Belvedere Hotel and was the first posthumous Medal of Honor awarded in Baltimore.
"Advancing with his team under terrific fire of the enemy artillery, machine guns and trench mortars, he continued after all his comrades had become casualties and he himself had been seriously wounded," read the medal's citation.
"He operated his rifle until he collapsed. His act resulted in the capture of about 100 prisoners and several machine guns. He succumbed to the effect of his wound shortly after the accomplishment of his heroic deed."
"It was one of the bravest deeds of the whole engagement," according to the 115th Infantry, USA, in the World War, the unit's official history published in 1920.
Costin was buried in Loudon Park National Cemetery. In 1939, he and another World War I veteran were honored with a marble shaft that was installed on a triangular plot at Howard and Preston streets.
In 1943, the SS Henry Costin, a Liberty ship, sponsored by his mother, Elizabeth Costin, was launched at the Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard in Baltimore.
Isadore Siegfried Jachman, a 1940 graduate of City College, was born in Berlin, Germany, and grew up on Primrose Avenue. His father, Leo Jachman, was a Sunpapers route owner.
During the Battle of the Bulge, Staff Sergeant Jachman was serving with B Company of the 513th Parachute Infantry.
On Jan. 4, 1945, after heavy German machine-gun fire at Flamierge, Belgium, disabled B Company's bazooka teams, Jachman, despite constant fire, charged across an open field and picked up a bazooka dropped by a fallen comrade.
Loading the weapon, he began firing, knocking out the lead enemy tank. As he began firing at a second tank, he was cut down by machine-gun fire, dying from his wounds. He was 22.
For his actions, he was awarded posthumously the Distinguished Service Cross.
After the war, hearing of Jachman's bravery from his father, a neighbor wrote to Maryland Sen. Herbert R. O'Conor, who in turn wrote to the adjutant general, asking for a review of his case.
Rather than the DSC, President Harry S. Truman authorized that the Medal of Honor be presented to Jachman's mother and father.
In 1950, Jachman was awarded the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity."
Jachman was buried in Adath Israel Cemetery in Dundalk.
Milton Ernest Ricketts, who was born and raised in the 4100 block of Roland Ave., graduated from City College; in 1935 he graduated from the Naval Academy.
Lieutenant Ricketts, 28, was serving on the USS Yorktown, when the carrier was attacked by enemy Japanese aircraft during the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 8, 1942, and he was killed.
He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on the authorization of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The citation with Rickett's medal said: "For extraordinary and distinguished gallantry above and beyond the call of duty, as officer in charge of the engineering repair party of the USS Yorktown."
An aerial bomb severely damaged a compartment near where Ricketts and his men were working.
"His men, all killed, wounded or stunned; himself mortally wounded, he opened the valve on a near-by fireplug, partially led out hose and directed a heavy stream of water into the fire, before dropping dead beside the hose," the citation read.
A destroyer-escort vessel named in his honor was launched May 10, 1943. It was christened by his widow, Betty Jane Ricketts.
Decommissioned in 1946, the ship remained in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, until being sold for scrapping in 1974.
Find previous columns at baltimoresun.com/backstory