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First Name: Ernest

Last Name: Dervishian

Birthplace: Richmond, VA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Richmond, VA
Middle Name: Herbert

Date of Birth: 10 August 1916

Date of Death: 20 May 1984

Rank: Colonel

Years Served:
Ernest Herbert Dervishian

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Ernest Herbert Dervishian
Colonel, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Colonel Ernest Herbert Dervishian (10 August 1916 - 20 May 1984) was a U.S. Army officer and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during World War II. He was the 33rd Virginian to receive the Medal of Honor.

Ernest Herbert Dervishian was born on 10 August 1916 in Richmond, VA. He was of Armenian heritage and his given Armenian name was Yervand. In 1933, he graduated from John Marshall High School. In 1937, he passed the Virginia State Bar Examination before he earned a Bachelor of Laws degree. He joined the U.S. Army as a Private from his birth city of Richmond, VA, and trained at Camp Croft, SC. On 23 May 1944, he was serving as a Technical Sergeant in the 34th Infantry Division. On that day near Cisterna, Italy, he repeatedly attacked German positions alone and captured many prisoners. He was subsequently promoted to Second Lieutenant and awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 34th Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Cisterna, Italy, 23 May 1944.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 23 May 1944, in the vicinity of Cisterna, Italy. 2d Lt. Dervishian (then Tech. Sgt.) and 4 members of his platoon found themselves far ahead of their company after an aggressive advance in the face of enemy artillery and sniper fire. Approaching a railroad embankment, they observed a force of German soldiers hiding in dugouts. 2d Lt. Dervishian, directing his men to cover him, boldly moved forward and firing his carbine forced 10 Germans to surrender. His men then advanced and captured 15 more Germans occupying adjacent dugouts. The prisoners were returned to the rear to be picked up by advancing units. From the railroad embankment, 2d Lt. Dervishian and his men then observed 9 Germans who were fleeing across a ridge. He and his men opened fire and 3 of the enemy were wounded. As his men were firing, 2d Lt. Dervishian, unnoticed, fearlessly dashed forward alone and captured all of the fleeing enemy before his companions joined him on the ridge. At this point 4 other men joined 2d Lt. Dervishian's group. An attempt was made to send the 4 newly arrived men along the left flank of a large, dense vineyard that lay ahead, but murderous machinegun fire forced them back. Deploying his men, 2d Lt. Dervishian moved to the front of his group and led the advance into the vineyard. He and his men suddenly became pinned down by a machinegun firing at them at a distance of 15 yards. Feigning death while the hostile weapon blazed away at him, 2d Lt. Dervishian assaulted the position during a halt in the firing, using a hand grenade and carbine fire, and forced the 4 German crewmembers to surrender. The 4 men on the left flank were now ordered to enter the vineyard but encountered machinegun fire which killed 1 soldier and wounded another. At this moment the enemy intensified the fight by throwing potato-masher grenades at the valiant band of American soldiers within the vineyard. 2d Lt. Dervishian ordered his men to withdraw; but instead of following, jumped into the machinegun position he had just captured and opened fire with the enemy weapon in the direction of the second hostile machinegun nest. Observing movement in a dugout 2 or 3 yards to the rear, 2d Lt. Dervishian seized a machine pistol. Simultaneously blazing away at the entrance to the dugout to prevent its occupants from firing and firing his machinegun at the other German nest, he forced 5 Germans in each position to surrender. Determined to rid the area of all Germans, 2d Lt. Dervishian continued his advance alone. Noticing another machinegun position beside a house, he picked up an abandoned machine pistol and forced 6 more Germans to surrender by spraying their position with fire. Unable to locate additional targets in the vicinity, 2d Lt. Dervishian conducted these prisoners to the rear. The prodigious courage and combat skill exhibited by 2d Lt. Dervishian are exemplary of the finest traditions of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Dervishian remained in the Army and retired as a Colonel.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Bronze Star Medal
Military Valor Cross (Italy)


In his speech on the occasion of "Dervishian Day" in his hometown of Richmond, VA, he stated:

"God's hand [had been] on my shoulder....I was lucky. My thoughts and your thoughts go out to those who have been killed, those have been wounded, those who are missing, those who are prisoners of war. They are all due equal credit, if credit is to be bestowed for doing one's duty. Countless others performed acts equal to mine. They were not so lucky."

Death and Burial

Colonel Ernest Herbert Dervishian died on 20 May 1984 at age 67. He was buried on the 40th anniversary of his heroic service, 23 May 1984, at Westhampton Memorial Park in his hometown of Richmond, VA, in Section 1, Lot 83.

Honoree ID: 1367   Created by: MHOH




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