Written by Anna White
In Southie we are fortunate to have have four Boston Public Elementary Schools right in our neighborhood. The Condon, the Perkins, the Perry and the Tynan are all here and we probably walk or drive by at least one of them daily. These schools are all named after real people and here on Caught in Southie, we’ll be examining who these people were. Who knows maybe it’ll help you in bar trivia this summer (seriously if it helps you win, we want a cut!)?!
The Michael J. Perkins school, a kindergarten through 5th grade school which serves over 230 kids, is named after a true hero. In some ways I wish we could name all BPS schools after Michael J. Perkins or as he’s also known, Hero of Belleau Wood.
Four things to remember before you read this:
-Michael Perkins was a Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company D, 101st Infantry, 26th Division in 1918 when this happened; he was also a TEENAGER
-his parents lived on E St., between W. 6th and Tudor, while this was happening
-a trench knife has a blade less than 7 inches long
-a pill-box emplacement is a building with concrete walls and most likely a steel roof
This is the heroism of Michael Perkins, directly from the Chief of Staff of the US Army at the time:
Michael Perkins voluntarily and alone crawled to a German pill-box machine gun emplacement from which grandes were being thrown at his platoon. Awaiting his opportunity when the door was again opened and another grenade thrown, he threw a bomb inside, bursting the door open, and then, drawing his trench knife, rushed into the emplacement and in a hand-to-hand struggle he killed or wounded several occupants and captured about twenty-five prisoners, at the same time silencing seven machine guns.
Let that sink in for a second.
Michael died the next day, October 28th, 1918. He would posthumously be awarded the Medal of Honor on December 31, 1919, the French Medaille Militaire by Presidential Decree and French Croix de Guerre with palm on April 13th, 1919. Michael was also awarded the Italian Croce di Guerra (the Italian War Merit Cross) on December 9th, 1921.
Perkins Square (where the Broadways meet) is named after Michael J. Perkins and when a new school was being built in South Boston, in 1926, naming it after Michael J. Perkins was an easy choice. Michael is buried in New Calvary Cemetery in Mattapan.