Today is National Medal of Honor Day (2 photos) / by Dave Hileman

These graves are located near Fort Bowie AZ and are part of the National Park system. The cemetery was used by both civilian and military until 1895 when all who were active military were reinterred in San Francisco. The remaining graves were all civilians at the time of their death. Many listed as “killed by indians” were stagecoach drivers, US Mail drivers and cattle drovers. One, O. O. Spence was a awarded the Congressional Medial of Honor for gallantry in action on 20 October 1869, while serving with Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry, in action at against Cochise and some Apache at Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona Territory. I reflected on this man -barely known today, who was born in the lush, deep woods of Northwestern Pennsylvania who found a home in Arizona. How did he make that journey, why, did he ever hear about or see his family again, did they know of his death and his time as a soldier. Fort Bowie is remote today - I imagine it felt more so then. He was killed by some indians but he was no longer in the army when that occurred. Here is a brief note from what little is known about him: “Orisoba O. Spence was a thirty-three year old native of Tionesta, Pennsylvania. Spence joined the army in 1868 and was assigned to Company G, 8th Cavalry which was eventually stationed at Fort Bowie. Spence received the Medal of Honor for gallantry in action in a fight against Cochise's band of Apaches on October 20, 1869. He was discharged at Fort Selden, New Mexico, as a sergeant in 1873. After his discharge he stayed in southern New Mexico and married in 1874. Spence's wife resided in Grant County, New Mexico, even after he began working for Nicholas Rogers as a cook. On April 1, 1876, a horse and mule were stolen from the station. Spence went after the thieves, recovering the animals after a shoot-out, then hurried on to the station.

While Spence was gone, Rogers had once again sold whiskey to some Apaches. On April 7, the Apaches came back for more shortly after Spence's return. Both Rogers and Spence were killed after Rogers refused to sell them more. Although initially buried at the station by an investigating patrol, the bodies were later brought into Fort Bowie for burial in the post cemetery.” from

The remains of the station are visible today about 3/4 of a mile from the fort.

Fort Bowie National Monument