Korean War Hero, Longtime AUSA Leader Dies

Korean War Hero, Longtime AUSA Leader Dies

MG Hemphill
Photo by: DoD

Retired Maj. Gen. John Hemphill, a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in Korea and longtime volunteer leader with the Association of the U.S. Army, died May 21 at the age of 93.

Hemphill, who also served two combat tours in Vietnam, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for leading a counterattack against enemy forces near Chorwon, Korea, on April 17, 1953. Despite being injured in both legs, then-1st Lt. Hemphill led the charge from Company I, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, until it was pinned down under heavy machine-gun fire.

“Realizing the consequences of a stalemate at that point in the action, Lieutenant Hemphill picked up a 3.5 rocket launcher and, disregarding all thoughts of personal safety, charged the machine gun bunker,” his citation says.

He fired the rocket from just 20 yards away, “scoring a direct hit” and destroying the enemy, the citation says. After he was wounded again, Hemphill refused evacuation and continued to direct the attack, moving from “bunker to bunker” to motivate his soldiers, the citation reads.

Hemphill’s other awards include two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars with V device and three Purple Hearts.

Within AUSA, Hemphill’s many leadership roles included president of the association’s Sixth Region, which covers northern California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. 

“General Hemphill got things done. The Captain Meriwether Lewis Memorial Park outside the main entrance to Joint Base Lewis-McChord stands because of his work,” AUSA said in a statement. “General Hemphill never slowed down, he was always looking for ways to get the word out on the value of AUSA membership.”

Hemphill, a 1951 West Point graduate and an AUSA member since 1956, was awarded the association’s Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Medal in 2008 for exceptional service to the Army.

“My motivation is the American soldier and their families,” Hemphill said in a 2013 article on www.northwestmilitary.com. “That is my focus.”