Ross was born in Strunk, Kentucky on May 12, 1922, passed away on May 9. He served in the US Army in Europe during WWII, and rather than describe what he did to earn the CMH, read the official Medal of Honor citation below.
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Private Wilburn Kirby Ross, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company G, 2d Battalion, 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division, in action near St. Jacques, France. At 11:30 a.m. on 30 October 1944, after his company had lost 55 out of 88 men in an attack on an entrenched, full-strength German company of elite mountain troops, Private Ross placed his light machinegun ten yards in advance of the foremost supporting riflemen in order to absorb the initial impact of an enemy counterattack. With machinegun and small-arms fire striking the earth near him, he fired with deadly effect on the assaulting force and repelled it. Despite the hail of automatic fire and the explosion of rifle grenades within a stone’s throw of his position, he continued to man his machine gun alone, holding off six more German attacks. When the eighth assault was launched, most of his supporting riflemen were out of ammunition. They took positions in echelon behind Private Ross and crawled up, during the attack, to extract a few rounds of ammunition from his machinegun ammunition belt. Private Ross fought on virtually without assistance and, despite the fact that enemy grenadiers crawled to within four yards of his position in an effort to kill him with hand grenades, he again directed accurate and deadly fire on the hostile force and hurled it back. After expending his last rounds, Private Ross was advised to withdraw to the company command post, together with eight surviving riflemen, but, as more ammunition was expected, he declined to do so. The Germans launched their last all-out attack, converging their fire on Private Ross in a desperate attempt to destroy the machinegun which stood between them and a decisive breakthrough. As his supporting riflemen fixed bayonets for a last-ditch stand, fresh ammunition arrived and was brought to Private Ross just as the advance assault elements were about to swarm over his position. He opened murderous fire on the oncoming enemy; killed 40 and wounded ten of the attacking force; broke the assault single-handedly, and forced the Germans to withdraw. Having killed or wounded at least 58 Germans in more than five hours of continuous combat and saved the remnants of his company from destruction, Private Ross remained at his post that night and the following day for a total of 36 hours. His actions throughout this engagement were an inspiration to his comrades and maintained the high traditions of the military service.
Being a hero does not mean you are not afraid to do something. It means being afraid but doing it anyway.
Day is done, Gone the sun,
From the lake, From the hill,
From the sky.
All is well, Safely rest,
God is nigh.