Oscar J. Upham, Guthrie, Oklahoma, the first Oklahoman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Oscar Uphan enlisted in the Marine Corps as a private in 1896. In 1898, he was stationed on the U.S.S. Oregon with the American fleet in the West Indies when the battleship U.S.S. Maine was blown up in Cuba. The Oregon was sent to Cuba and was on patrol just outside of the harbor when the Spanish fleet attempted to leave. The gun that Upham was stationed at on the Oregon had the honor of firing the first American shot in the Spanish-American war.
After the war, the Oregon was transferred to the Pacific. In 1900, it was stationed off Japan when a detachment of 25 Marines including Upham was called to Peking, China to help protect the U.S. Legation during what is now called the Boxer Rebellion. Shortly after their arrival in Peking, the Boxers attacked the Legation compound, trapping the Marines, along with elements of German and Japanese soldiers, and started a two-month siege.
In recognition of his service in protecting the legations by building and manning the barricades, Upham was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on July 19, 1901.
Following his discharge, Uphan returned to Guthrie where he built houses for a while and later served as a mail carrier with the post office. Upham died in 1949 and is buried in Summit View cemetery.
Updated: Wednesday, 08-Apr-2009 19:48:33 CDT