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First Name: Dexter

Last Name: Kerstetter

Birthplace: Centralia, WA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Centralia, WA
Middle Name: James

Date of Birth: 21 December 1907

Date of Death: 09 July 1972

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served:
Dexter James Kerstetter

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Dexter James Kerstetter
Sergeant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Sergeant Dexter James Kerstetter (21 December 1907 - 9 July 1972) was a U.S. Army soldier and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during World War II.

Dexter James Kerstetter was born on 21 December 1907 in Centralia, WA. He also joined the Army from Centralia. On 13 April 1945, he was serving as a Private First Class in Company C, 130th Infantry Regiment, 33rd Infantry Division. During a fight that day to take a ridge near Galiano, Luzon, the Philippines, he advanced ahead of his squad and engaged the Japanese soldiers alone until he ran out of ammunition. For these heroic actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 130th Infantry, 33rd Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Galiano, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 13 April 1945.

Citation: He was with his unit in a dawn attack against hill positions approachable only along a narrow ridge paralleled on each side by steep cliffs which were heavily defended by enemy mortars, machineguns, and rifles in well-camouflaged spider holes and tunnels leading to caves. When the leading element was halted by intense fire that inflicted 5 casualties, Pfc. Kerstetter passed through the American line with his squad. Placing himself well in advance of his men, he grimly worked his way up the narrow steep hogback, meeting the brunt of enemy action. With well-aimed shots and rifle-grenade fire, he forced the Japs to take cover. He left the trail and moving down a cliff that offered only precarious footholds, dropped among 4 Japs at the entrance to a cave, fired his rifle from his hip and killed them all. Climbing back to the trail, he advanced against heavy enemy machinegun, rifle, and mortar fire to silence a heavy machinegun by killing its crew of 4 with rifle fire and grenades. He expended his remaining ammunition and grenades on a group of approximately 20 Japs, scattering them, and returned to his squad for more ammunition and first aid for his left hand, which had been blistered by the heat from his rifle. Resupplied, he guided a fresh platoon into a position from which a concerted attack could be launched, killing 3 hostile soldiers on the way. In all, he dispatched 16 Japs that day. The hill was taken and held against the enemy's counterattacks, which continued for 3 days. Pfc. Kerstetter's dauntless and gallant heroism was largely responsible for the capture of this key enemy position, and his fearless attack in the face of great odds was an inspiration to his comrades in their dangerous task.

Death and Burial

Sergeant Dexter James Kerstetter died on 9 July 1972. He is buried at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, King County, WA.

Honoree ID: 1477   Created by: MHOH




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