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First Name: Kenneth

Last Name: Gruennert

Birthplace: Helenville, WI, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Helenville, WI
Middle Name: E.

Date of Birth: 19 November 1922

Date of Death: 24 December 1942

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served: 1939 - 1942
Kenneth E. Gruennert

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Kenneth E. Gruennert
Sergeant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Sergeant Kenneth E. Gruennert (19 November 1922 - 24 December 1942) 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 during World War II.

Kenneth E. Gruennert was born on 19 November 1922 in Helenville, WI, and he attended Jefferson High School in nearby Jefferson. During high school, he played football and was captain of the school's championship-winning team. At age 16, he enlisted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard from Helenville and served in the 32nd Infantry Division.

The 32nd Division was federalized in 1940 and, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the unit began training for combat. On 24 December 1942, Gruennert was serving in New Guinea as a Sergeant with Company L of the 127th Infantry Regiment. On that day near the village of Buna, he was second-in-command of a platoon tasked with advancing through Japanese positions to a beach 600 yards ahead. When they came upon a Japanese bunker, Gruennert single-handedly attacked and silenced the position. Although seriously wounded, he refused medical evacuation and successfully attacked a second bunker, but was killed by snipers immediately after. For these actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company L, 127th Infantry, 32nd Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Buna, New Guinea, 24 December 1942.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. On 24 December 1942, near Buna, New Guinea, Sgt. Gruennert was second in command of a platoon with a mission to drive through the enemy lines to the beach 600 yards ahead. Within 150 yards of the objective, the platoon encountered 2 hostile pillboxes. Sgt. Gruennert advanced alone on the first and put it out of action with hand grenades and rifle fire, killing 3 of the enemy. Seriously wounded in the shoulder, he bandaged his wound under cover of the pillbox, refusing to withdraw to the aid station and leave his men. He then, with undiminished daring, and under extremely heavy fire, attacked the second pillbox. As he neared it he threw grenades which forced the enemy out where they were easy targets for his platoon. Before the leading elements of his platoon could reach him he was shot by enemy snipers. His inspiring valor cleared the way for his platoon which was the first to attain the beach in this successful effort to split the enemy position.

Death and Burial

Sergeant Kenneth E. Gruennert was killed in action on 24 December 1942. He is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in his hometown of Helenville, WI.

Honoree ID: 1416   Created by: MHOH




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