George Dilboy (Gr: Γιώργος Διλβόης) was born in Alatsata (today Alaçatı), near Smyrna (today Izmir) in Asia Minor (today Turkey) in 1896. He fought as a teenager in the Balkan Wars of 1912-13. He immigrated with his family to New Hampshire in the United States where he joined the New Hampshire National Guard and served in the Mexican Border Campaign. When war against Germany was declared in 1917 he joined the army and served in the 103rd infantry regiment, 26th Division.
Dilboy fought in the Battle of Belleau Wood in France. After his platoon had gained its objective along a railroad embankment, Private First Class Dilboy, accompanying his platoon leader to reconnoiter the ground beyond, was suddenly fired upon by an enemy machine-gun from 100 yards. From a standing position on the railroad track, fully exposed to view, he opened fire at once, but failing to silence the gun, rushed forward with his bayonet fixed, through a wheat field toward the gun emplacement, falling within 25 yards of the gun with his right leg nearly severed above the knee and with several bullet holes in his body. With undaunted courage he continued to fire into the emplacement from a prone position, killing two of the enemy and dispersing the rest of the crew.1
In 1921, Dilboy was awarded the Medal of Honor by the President of the United States, the first Greek-American to be awarded America's highest decoration for valor. At the request of his father, he was buried in his native village of Alatsata in Asia Minor. In 1922 when the Turkish Army occupied Alatsata, Turkish soldiers broke open Dilboy's coffin entombed in the Church of the Theotokos and desecrated Dilboy's remains and the US flag. US President Warren G. Harding was enraged and ordered a US warship to recover the remains and brought them back to the US where they were interred at Arlington Cemetery in a ceremony attended by many dignitaries. Harding also demanded and received a formal apology from the Turkish Government. Dilboy has been honored by three US presidents; Woodrow Wilson who signed the authorization awarding the Medal of Honor, Warren Harding who brought him back, and Calvin Coolidge who presided at his final burial.
1. Department of Homeland Security. From George Dilboy's Medal of Honor citation.