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First Name: Alton

Last Name: Knappenberger

Birthplace: Cooperstown, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Spring Mount, PA
Middle Name: Warren

Date of Birth: 31 December 1923

Date of Death: 09 June 2008

Rank: Staff Sergeant

Years Served:
Alton Warren Knappenberger

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Alton W. Knappenberger
Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Staff Sergeant Alton Warren Knappenberger (31 December 1923 - 9 June 2008) 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.

Alton W. Knappenberger was born on 31 December 1923 in Cooperstown, PA. He joined the Army from Spring Mount, PA. On 1 February 1944, he was serving as a Private First Class in the 3rd Infantry Division. During the Battle of Cisterna in Italy that day, Knappenberger held an exposed position alone and harassed the attacking Germans with his automatic rifle until he ran out of ammunition. For his actions during the battle, he was issued the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, 3rd Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Cisterna di Littoria, Italy, 1 February 1944.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action involving actual conflict with the enemy, on 1 February 1944 near Cisterna di Littoria, Italy. When a heavy German counterattack was launched against his battalion, Pfc. Knappenberger crawled to an exposed knoll and went into position with his automatic rifle. An enemy machinegun 85 yards away opened fire, and bullets struck within 6 inches of him. Rising to a kneeling position, Pfc. Knappenberger opened fire on the hostile crew, knocked out the gun, killed 2 members of the crew, and wounded the third. While he fired at this hostile position, 2 Germans crawled to a point within 20 yards of the knoll and threw potato-masher grenades at him, but Pfc. Knappenberger killed them both with 1 burst from his automatic rifle. Later, a second machinegun opened fire upon his exposed position from a distance of 100 yards, and this weapon also was silenced by his well-aimed shots. Shortly thereafter, an enemy 20mm. antiaircraft gun directed fire at him, and again Pfc. Knappenberger returned fire to wound 1 member of the hostile crew. Under tank and artillery shellfire, with shells bursting within 15 yards of him, he held his precarious position and fired at all enemy infantrymen armed with machine pistols and machineguns which he could locate. When his ammunition supply became exhausted, he crawled 15 yards forward through steady machinegun fire, removed rifle clips from the belt of a casualty, returned to his position and resumed firing to repel an assaulting German platoon armed with automatic weapons. Finally, his ammunition supply being completely exhausted, he rejoined his company. Pfc. Knappenberger's intrepid action disrupted the enemy attack for over 2 hours.

Death and Burial

Staff Sergeant Alton W. Knappenberger died on 9 June 2008. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 59, Site 3193.

Honoree ID: 1485   Created by: MHOH




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