The first Maryland National Guardsman to earn the Medal of Honor

Private Henry Gilbert Costin
June 1898 – October 1918

Private Henry Gilbert Costin earned our nation’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic action on October 8, 1918. He was the first Maryland National Guardsman to earn this award. 

Private Henry Gilbert Costin was the first Maryland National Guardsman to earn the Medal of Honor. The National Guard Armory in Laurel is named in his honor.

Private Henry Gilbert Costin was the first Maryland National Guardsman to earn the Medal of Honor. The National Guard Armory in Laurel is named in his honor.

Private Costin was in Company H, 115th Infantry Regiment near Bois de Consenvoye, France, when his platoon was held up by German machine gun fire. Private Costin volunteered to charge the machine gun nest with an automatic rifle team.  

Private Henry G. Costin’s Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:

“When the advance of his platoon had been held up by machine gun fire and a request was made for an automatic rifle team to charge the nest, Pvt. Costin was the first to volunteer. Advancing with his team, under terrific fire of enemy artillery, machine guns, and trench mortars, he continued after all his comrades had become casualties and he himself had been seriously wounded. He operated his rifle until he collapsed. His act resulted in the capture of about 100 prisoners and several machine guns. He succumbed from the effects of his wounds shortly after the accomplishment of his heroic deed.”

Henry Costin was born in Baltimore and graduated from the Baltimore City College in 1915. After graduation he worked at the J. R. Dunn Mercantile Agency.  

He enlisted in the Fifth Regiment of the Maryland National Guard in June of 1916. Shortly after his enlistment, the Maryland National Guard was sent to the Texas border with Mexico to defeat and capture Pancho Villa. Villa and his troops had raided Texas border towns and killed U.S. citizens.  The Fifth Regiment returned to Baltimore after seven months in Texas.       

Upon his return home Costin married Hythron Johnson in August of 1917. Shortly later, the Maryland National Guard was mobilized for service in World War I. The Fifth Regiment received further training before shipment to the war in France.

Private Costin showed exemplary bravery during two battles in a short period of time. 

In September of 1918 Private Costin was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his courageous actions on the Alsace front. Costin and sixty members of his unit were gassed by the Germans. Private Costin, although suffering the effects of the gas, provided first aid to his fellow soldiers until he collapsed. After a stay in the field hospital he returned to duty with his Company on October 6th.

Just two days on October 8, Private Henry Costin again showed unwavering bravery in protecting his fellow soldiers. However, he made the ultimate sacrifice and died from his injuries. He gave his life for his country.

Private Henry Gilbert Costin is buried in the Loudon Park National Cemetery, Section B, grave 460, Baltimore, Maryland.

Bibliography and read more: 

Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. 14, No. 4, December 1919

Maryland National Guard, Our history 1634 to the present

115th Infantry U.S.A. In the World War, Chaplin F. C. Reynolds, Chaplin Wm. F. McLaughlin, 1920.