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First Name: Robert

Last Name: Laws

Birthplace: Altoona, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Altoona, PA
Middle Name: Earl

Date of Birth: 18 January 1921

Date of Death: 01 January 1990

Rank: Staff Sergeant

Years Served:
Robert Earl Laws

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Robert Earl Laws
Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Staff Sergeant Robert Earl Laws (18 January 1921 - 1 January 1990) 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.

Robert Earl Laws was born on 18 January 1921 in Altoona, PA; he also joined the Army from that city. On 12 January 1945, he was serving as a Staff Sergeant in Company G, 169th Infantry Regiment, 43rd Infantry Division. On that day in Pangasinan, Luzon, the Philippines, he single-handedly destroyed a Japanese pillbox. Despite being wounded, he then led an attack on enemy rifle positions and engaged a Japanese soldier in hand-to-hand combat. For these actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company G, 169th Infantry, 43rd Infantry Division.

Place and date: Pangasinan Province, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 12 January 1945.

Citation: He led the assault squad when Company G attacked enemy hill positions. The enemy force, estimated to be a reinforced infantry company, was well supplied with machineguns, ammunition, grenades, and blocks of TNT and could be attacked only across a narrow ridge 70 yards long. At the end of this ridge an enemy pillbox and rifle positions were set in rising ground. Covered by his squad, S/Sgt Laws traversed the hogback through vicious enemy fire until close to the pillbox, where he hurled grenades at the fortification. Enemy grenades wounded him, but he persisted in his assault until 1 of his missiles found its mark and knocked out the pillbox. With more grenades, passed to him by members of his squad who had joined him, he led the attack on the entrenched riflemen. In the advance up the hill, he suffered additional wounds in both arms and legs, about the body and in the head, as grenades and TNT charges exploded near him. Three Japs rushed him with fixed bayonets, and he emptied the magazine of his machine pistol at them, killing 2. He closed in hand-to-hand combat with the third, seizing the Jap's rifle as he met the onslaught. The 2 fell to the ground and rolled some 50 or 60 feet down a bank. When the dust cleared the Jap lay dead and the valiant American was climbing up the hill with a large gash across the head. He was given first aid and evacuated from the area while his squad completed the destruction of the enemy position. S/Sgt. Laws' heroic actions provided great inspiration to his comrades, and his courageous determination, in the face of formidable odds and while suffering from multiple wounds, enabled them to secure an important objective with minimum casualties.

Laws left the Army while still a Staff Sergeant.


He participated in the 1952 unveiling of the PRR's WWII memorial statue located in 30th Street Station, Philadelphia, PA.

Death and Burial

Staff Sergeant Robert Earl Laws died on 1 January 1990 at age 68. He is buried at Blair Memorial Park in Bellwood, PA, in the Garden of Vespers, Lot 90F.

Honoree ID: 1494   Created by: MHOH




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