ISOB Mestrovich (Meštrović) Medal of Honor Winner
Located in the churchyard of St. John Serbian Orthodox Church (Sveti Jovan Church Cemetery or Црква Светог Јована), south east of the church.
A polished gray marble grave.
Sergeant James I. “Joko” Mestrovich () was born on May 22, 1894 in present day Montenegro. He immigrated to the United States and served in the US Army in World War 1. He served in Company C of the 111th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division (Pennsylvania National Guard).He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during fighting at Fismette, France on August 10, 1918.
was born in Đuraševići (Krtoli, Bay of Boka Kotorska). As soon as he turned 18, he emigrated to the “promised land” but faced even harder conditions there. Joko volunteered to join the Montenegrin army at the beginning of WWI. It was only after April 1917, when the US had joined the war that the volunteers faced no problems, but only under one condition, and that was to join the US Army. After final training, he was sent to France. Despite being barely literate and with a bad knowledge of English, he soon advanced to the rank of Sergeant and was entrusted a platoon of soldiers. The press at that time wrote that he was the first person from the Californian town of Fresno to achieve heroic glory in the “Big War”, after he saved the life of the famous Captain Vayk and was heavily wounded and pronounced dead for the first time. His name was put on a list of casualties one more times before he actually died in a grenade, after the capitulation of the majority of German forces in 1918. At the beginning of 1925, during the US fleet’s visit to Split, one ship was assigned a special task in Boka: to find Joko’s mother. She was taken onboard the ship, where flags were flown at half-staff and the whole crew was lined up in dress uniforms. She was presented with the Medal of Honor. This decoration, the highest U.S. military decoration was awarded to Joko posthumously. Joko was one of only 121 US soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor for actions during WWI.
Mestrovich’s Medal of Honor Citation reads:
Note: There are conflicting information of the actual cause of Mestrovich’s death. Some sources report him as Killed in Action (KIA), others that he succumbed to the Spanish flu on November 4, 1918. As noted on his grave, Mestrovich was originally reported killed during the Battle of Fismette on August 10, 1918, but he was only wounded.