List of war heroes adds another
By Gerald Hay
There’s a third Medal of Honor recipient in the history of Johnson County.
He is William B. Trembley.
He joins an elite list of only two other Medal of Honor recipients – Stanley T. Adams, who was born in a De Soto and earned his medal in the Korean War as an Army sergeant first class, and John Henry Balch, an Edgerton native, who received the prestigious honor in World War I as a Navy pharmacist first mate. Both war heroes were profiled in the May-June issue of The Best Times.
Trembley’s name was overlooked in past research since two websites (Kansas Historical Society and Congressional Medal of Honor Society along with Wikipedia) lists his birth in Johnson, Kansas and not in Johnson County, Kansas. Johnson is a small community in Stanton County in western Kansas on the Colorado border and north of Liberal.
According to the Monticello Community Historical Society, Trembley was born April 21, 1877, on the family farm in Monticello Township in Johnson County. The Isaac Trembley family came to Monticello from Iowa in 1871. They farmed land near the Kaw River close to what is now 43rd Street, just across the river from Bonner Springs. The farm appears on an 1874 map of Johnson County.
Trembley enlisted in the Army in 1898 and was a private serving with Company B, 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry in the Philippine-American war, also called the Philippine Insurrection. His action earning him the military’s highest honor occurred on April 27, 1899, at Calumpit, Luzon, Philippine Islands. He was a corporal when discharged from military service later that year when the war ended.
On March 11, 1902, Trembley received the Medal of Honor. According to the citation, he “swam the Rio Grande de Pampanga in face of the enemy’s fire and fastened a rope to the occupied trenches, thereby enabling the crossing of the river and the driving of the enemy from his fortified position.”
Trembley was commissioned a first lieutenant in WWI, serving from 1917-1919. Following the war, he served as postmaster from 1921 until 1935 in Kansas City, Kansas, and a district court judge for several years in KCK.
He died on Jan. 13, 1952, at the age of 74. He is buried in the Monticello Union Cemetery at 75th Street and Gleason Road in western Shawnee.
More information about Trembley is available in the society's research library located at Monticello HIstorical Station, 23860 W 83rd St., Lenexa