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Place the Headstones Where They Belong

Series: Cover to Cover

March 4th marked Idaho Day with festivities to honor the day occurring today at the Idaho Statehouse in Boise. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I the theme for the event this year is Idaho Remembers. University of Idaho Library Special Collections and Archives remembers Thomas Croft Neibaur, a WWI soldier from Idaho who received the Medal of Honor. A book on Neibaur’s life is found in the Day NW Collections. Place The Headstones Where They Belong by Sherman L. Fleek chronicles Neibaur’s war story as well as his life after the end of WWI. Neibaur was awarded the Medal of Honor in a ceremony in France in February of 1919. Below is a studio portrait of Private Neibaur wearing his Medal of Honor and other decorations.

Private Thomas Croft Neibaur
Private Thomas Croft Neibaur

The Citation read at the time of his award indicates:

On the afternoon of 16 October 1918, when the Cote-de-Chatillion had just been gained after bitter fighting and the summit of that strong bulwark in the Kriemhilde Stellung was being organized, Pvt. Neibaur was sent out on patrol with his automatic rifle squad to enfilade enemy machinegun nests. As he gained the ridge he set up his automatic rifle and was directly thereafter wounded in both legs by fire from a hostile machine gun on his flank. The advance wave of the enemy troops, counterattacking, had about gained the ridge, and although practically cut off and surrounded, the remainder of his detachment being killed or wounded, this gallant soldier kept his automatic rifle in operation to such effect that by his own efforts and by fire from the skirmish line of his company, at least 100 yards in his rear, the attack was checked. The enemy wave being halted and Iying prone, 4 of the enemy attacked Pvt. Neibaur at close quarters. These he killed. He then moved alone among the enemy Iying on the ground about him, in the midst of the fire from his own lines, and by coolness and gallantry captured 11 prisoners at the point of his pistol and, although painfully wounded, brought them back to our lines. The counterattack in full force was arrested to a large extent by the single efforts of this soldier, whose heroic exploits took place against the skyline in full view of his entire battalion.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Neibaur was awarded a Purple Heart and a WWI Medal in Victory as well as medals and honors from Italy, France and Belgium.


Photo taken from book Place The Headstones Where They Belong by Sherman L. Fleek, Utah State University Press, Logan Utah, 2008.

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