Smith pushed hard to ensure family of Pvt. Fallon received his medal128 year-old Medal of Honor Returns to Hero’s Family in Monmouth County
Over 150 years after Private Thomas T. Fallon’s heroic actions in the Civil War, and 128 years after his being awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) presented Fallon’s great nephew—a Monmouth County resident—on Monday with the distinguished medal, returning it to the family.
“Private Thomas T. Fallon received this Medal of Honor for his courage and heroism in battle and I am proud to have worked to help return this award to his descendants, as they are the rightful keepers,” Smith said. “Today we once again honor this man—and Freehold resident—who showed the highest qualities of valor while serving his country in uniform.”
On Monday evening, Smith presented Glenn Cashion—who researched and determined that he was the great nephew of Private Fallon—with Fallon’s Medal of Honor. Smith had petitioned the Army for several months, successfully persuading them to release the medal after they first denied Cashion’s request. Present at the award ceremony were Freehold Borough Mayor Nolan Higgins, Muriel Smith of the Monmouth County Historical Commission, and Freeholder Lillian Burry.
“This distinguished honor belongs to Mr. Cashion and his entire family,” Smith said. “They deserve to treasure the memory of their ancestor who won such great renown.”
“Thanks to Muriel Smith and the Monmouth County Historical Commission for their diligent research on Fallon’s record in the Civil War and for tracking down the location of his Medal of Honor; thanks also to the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders and the governing body and historians of both Monmouth County and the Borough of Freehold for their support in this matter,” Smith said.
Born in County Galway, Ireland, in 1837, Thomas T. Fallon emigrated to the U.S. in 1859 and entered service in the U.S. Army at Freehold, NJ during the Civil War. Private Fallon served in Company K of the 37th New York Infantry, then in the 4th U.S. Artillery Regiment, and after that as a sergeant in the 35th NJ Infantry until July, 1865. He received the Medal of Honor in 1891 for his heroic actions at the Battles of Williamsburg (May 5, 1862), Fair Oaks (May 30-31, 1862) and Big Shanty (June 14-15, 1864).
However, after Fallon’s death in 1916, the medal was returned to the U.S. government and eventually displayed at Dickenson College before being returned to the Defense Department and stored at Fort Knox. Glenn Cashion of the Monmouth County Historical Commission determined through a genealogy survey that he was the great nephew of Private Fallon, and that since Fallon had no children at the time of his death, he was the surviving next-of-kin.
Cashion sought to obtain Fallon’s Medal of Honor for the family’s keeping. He reached out to Rep. Smith’s office, who requested that the medal be returned to Mr. Cashion as it had already been presented to Private Fallon and that the family simply wished to be determined the rightful owners. Through phone and mail correspondence Rep. Smith reached out several times to the Army over two months to explain the matter, and the Army agreed to return the medal to the family.
The Medal of Honor was created in 1861, and is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. There were 1522 Medals of Honor awarded during the Civil War, and 3505 total Medal of Honor awards given, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
“As this very room shows, Monmouth County is rich in history and home to many who have served this nation in battle,” Smith said at the award presentation in the Nathaniel Scudder Hall at the Freehold Council Chamber, named after a doctor in Freehold who was killed while fighting for the American Revolution.