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Medal? Trooper Asks Only His Shirt

   In 1942, the 11th Cavalry was training at Camp Lockett, in southern California. The following article appeared in a local newspaper, with the headline that appears as the title of this story.

    Private Frederick Gislain, Troop E, 11th Cavalry, doesn't care about a medal. All he wants is his shirt back. It was ripped beyond repair when Gislain, on maneuvers with his outfit near Barrett Lake in the San Diego Mountains on the night of August 6, unwittingly made himself a potential candidate for a heroism citation, his superior officers reported Thursday.

    Gislain and a fellow cavalryman identified as Private Margetta were among a group making its way along the edge of Barrett Lake. At one point, underbrush was so thick the soldiers were forced to wade into the lake.

    Private Margetta’s horse stumbled. Weighted down by equipment, Margetta went down.

    Gislain saw the impending tragedy. He discarded his equipment, ripped off his much-mourned shirt without thought for buttons or fabric, and dived in.

    A minute later, he was back on the bank with Margetta, wet but safe. Out in the lake, Margetta’s horse still foundered.

    A cavalryman isn’t much good without his horse, reasoned Gislain to himself with a speculative glance at Margetta. So he dived in again, risked thrashing hoofs in the dark water, and brought the horse to shore.

    Now Gislain wants a new shirt."

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