b. 27/02/1932 Idaho Falls, Idaho. d. 23/03/2006 Arco, Idaho.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 14/06/1952 Mingari-Gol, Korea.
David Bruce Bleak was born on 27 February 1932 to William Bleak and Tamar Bleak (née Young) in Idaho Falls, Idaho, a remote farming community. The seventh of nine children, he dropped out of high school and worked for a time as a farmer and a rancher and also for railroads, but he grew dissatisfied with life in Idaho. He eventually decided to enlist in the US Army, hoping to see the world. Bleak grew to a height of 6.5 feet (2.0 m) tall and weighed 250 pounds (110 kg). He was described as humble and quiet throughout his life.
Bleak entered the Army on 1 November 1950, and attended basic combat training at Fort Riley, Kansas. Here, he was selected for medical duty. After the completion of his training, Bleak was assigned to a medical company attached to the 223rd Infantry Regiment, 40th Infantry Division of the California Army National Guard. Shortly after Bleak was assigned to the unit, it was selected for deployment to the Korean War. He was moved to Camp Cooke in Lompoc, California for advanced medical training in preparation for his deployment.
The 40th Infantry Division shipped out to Korea in January 1952, and shortly thereafter, Bleak was promoted to Sergeant. His unit was assigned to a mountainous area near Minari-gol, South Korea, along the 38th Parallel. By that point in the war, the fronts had largely stabilized, and the duty in the area was characterized by constant, low-level trench warfare and continued battles over the same ground which produced high casualties. Bleak served as a field medic, assisting troops on the front lines instead of in Mobile Army Surgical Hospital units.
Bleak reportedly suffered nerve damage as a result of his leg wound. His wounds required hospitalization, but he returned to duty on 9 July 1952. His tour in Korea ended shortly after the event. He finished his enlistment by serving in Japan, and on 27 October 1953 he was awarded the Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House with President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He retired from the Army as a Staff Sergeant.
After leaving the military at the end of the Korean War, Bleak returned to Idaho. He later moved to Wyoming, where he took various jobs as a truck driver, a grocery store meat cutter, and a rancher. He eventually married and had four children with his wife, Lois Pickett Bleak. in 1966, he moved to Moore, Idaho, where he ran a dairy farm for 10 years. He eventually became a janitor at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, where he worked his way up until his retirement in the mid-1990s as chief hot cell technician, responsible for disposing of spent nuclear fuel rods.
Sgt. Bleak, a member of the medical company, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and indomitable courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. As a medical aidman, he volunteered to accompany a reconnaissance patrol committed to engage the enemy and capture a prisoner for interrogation. Forging up the rugged slope of the key terrain, the group was subjected to intense automatic weapons and small arms fire and suffered several casualties. After administering to the wounded, he continued to advance with the patrol. Nearing the military crest of the hill, while attempting to cross the fire-swept area to attend the wounded, he came under hostile fire from a small group of the enemy concealed in a trench. Entering the trench he closed with the enemy, killed 2 with bare hands and a third with his trench knife. Moving from the emplacement, he saw a concussion grenade fall in front of a companion and, quickly shifting his position, shielded the man from the impact of the blast. Later, while ministering to the wounded, he was struck by a hostile bullet but, despite the wound, he undertook to evacuate a wounded comrade. As he moved down the hill with his heavy burden, he was attacked by 2 enemy soldiers with fixed bayonets. Closing with the aggressors, he grabbed them and smacked their heads together, then carried his helpless comrade down the hill to safety. Sgt. Bleak's dauntless courage and intrepid actions reflect utmost credit upon himself and are in keeping with the honored traditions of the military service.
BURIAL LOCATION: LOST RIVER CEMETERY, MOORE, IDAHO. (ASHES SCATTERED).
Section D, Row 2, Space 1