Rank and organization:   Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps.
6 November 1922, Neche, N. Dak.
Accredited to:   North Dakota.
For extraordinary heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty
while attached to the 3d Marine Raider Battalion during action against
enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands area on 9 November 1943. While
his platoon was engaged in the defense of a vital road block near Empress
Augusta Bay on Bougainville Island. Pfc. Gurke, in company with another
Marine, was delivering a fierce stream of fire against the main vanguard
of the Japanese. Concluding from the increasing ferocity of grenade barrages
that the enemy was determined to annihilate their small, 2-man foxhole,
he resorted to a bold and desperate measure for holding out despite the
torrential hail of shells. When a Japanese grenade dropped squarely into
the foxhole, Pfc. Gurke, mindful that his companion manned an automatic
weapon of superior fire power and therefore could provide more effective
resistance, thrust him roughly aside and flung his own body over the missile
to smother the explosion. With unswerving devotion to duty and superb valor,
Pfc. Gurke sacrificed himself in order that his comrade might live to carry
on the fight. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)