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First Name: William

Last Name: Grabiarz

Birthplace: Buffalo, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Buffalo, NY
Middle Name: J.

Date of Birth: 25 March 1925

Date of Death: 23 February 1945

Rank: Private First Class

Years Served:
William J. Grabiarz

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


William J. Grabiarz
Private First Class, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Private First Class William J. Grabiarz (25 March 1925 - 23 February 1945) was a U.S. Army soldier who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in World War II.

William J. Grabiarz was born on 25 March 1925 in Buffalo, NY. He also joined the Army in Buffalo. On 23 February 1945, he was serving as a Private First Class in Troop E, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. On that day in Manila, the Philippines, he voluntarily braved enemy fire in order to rescue a wounded officer who lay in an exposed position. After being wounded himself and trying unsuccessfully to drag the officer to safety, he used his body to shield the man from hostile fire. Grabiarz was killed by the intense fire, but the officer survived. For this heroic action, Grabiarz was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Troop E, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division.

Place and date: Manila, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 23 February 1945.

Citation: He was a scout when the unit advanced with tanks along a street in Manila, Luzon, Philippine Islands. Without warning, enemy machinegun and rifle fire from concealed positions in the Customs building swept the street, striking down the troop commander and driving his men to cover. As the officer lay in the open road, unable to move and completely exposed to the pointblank enemy fire, Pfc. Grabiarz voluntarily ran from behind a tank to carry him to safety, but was himself wounded in the shoulder. Ignoring both the pain in his injured useless arm and his comrades' shouts to seek the cover which was only a few yards distant, the valiant rescuer continued his efforts to drag his commander out of range. Finding this impossible, he rejected the opportunity to save himself and deliberately covered the officer with his own body to form a human shield, calling as he did so for a tank to maneuver into position between him and the hostile emplacement. The enemy riddled him with concentrated fire before the tank could interpose itself. Our troops found that he had been successful in preventing bullets from striking his leader, who survived. Through his magnificent sacrifice in gallantly giving his life to save that of his commander, Pfc. Grabiarz provided an outstanding and lasting inspiration to his fellow soldiers.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Army Good Conduct Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
WWII Victory Medal
Philippine Liberation Medal
New York State Conspicuous Service Cross
Distinguished Unit Citation

Combat Infantryman Badge

Death and Burial

Private First Class William J. Grabiarz was killed in action on 23 February 1945. He is buried at Saint Stanislaus Cemetery in Cheektowaga, NY, in American Legion Section, Grave 13.

Honoree ID: 1413   Created by: MHOH




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