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First Name: John

Last Name: Cleary

Birthplace: OH, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: OH
Middle Name: J.

Date of Birth: 1917

Date of Death: 15 December 1944

Rank: Captain

Years Served:
John J. Cleary Jr.

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


John J. Cleary Jr.
Captain, U.S. Army

In December 1943, 1st Lieutenant John J. Cleary Jr., Service Number 01030747, became the second Adjutant of Headquarters Special Troops, 87th Infantry Division.

On 19 August 1944, now-Captain John Cleary took command of the 87th Reconnaissance Troop, 87th Infantry Division while the Division was at Fort Jackson, SC. (The Reconnaissance Troop was referred to in the Division as "that brave little band of fighters who venture far into enemy territory, often in advance of the infantry, to bring back vital information about enemy movements.") The 87th Division deployed to the European Theater of Operations on 17 October 1944, arrived in England on 12 November and, on 25 November was assigned to the U.S. 3rd Army.

On 14 December 1944, Captain Cleary's Reconnaissance Troop was in a small French town called Gros Rederching, very close to enemy territory. CPT Cleary assembled his men by the side of a barn in the pitch-black night and said, "There were three Tiger Tanks at the edge of town at six o'clock tonight. Keep it quiet." Ten minutes later, the German 88mm shells began breaking all around the barn. None of the men had sense enough to get down in the cellar; they were too green. The mud got deeper, the shells got thicker and things really got tough.

Captain Cleary led a patrol out of Guiderkirch on 15 December to silence some German machine gun nests. The patrol was fired on from less than 50 yards and CPT Cleary was killed instantly. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star. The 87th Infantry Division History Book said this about his death: "His tragic but heroic death in France, just as the Division entered combat, was a profound shock to all the men in Special Troops."

Medals and Awards

Silver Star Medal
Purple Heart
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 Bronze Stars
World War II Victory Medal


Captain John J. Cleary Jr. is buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial in Saint-Avold, Departement de la Moselle, Lorraine, France, in Plot B, Row 24. Grave 7.

[Most of the material in this biography was taken from the "87th Infantry Division History Book: An Historical and Pictorial Record of the 87th Infantry Division in World War II, 1942-1945" http://www.87thinfantrydivision.com/History/HistoryBook/index.html and was used in compliance with its stated guidelines for usage. ]

Honoree ID: 106869   Created by: MHOH




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