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First Name: Earl

Last Name: Mittleberger



Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: IA

Date of Birth:

Date of Death: 28 December 1942

Rank: Private First Class

Years Served:
Earl Mittleberger

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Earl Mittleberger
Private First Class, U.S. Army

On 28 December 1942, then-Private Earl Mittleberger was serving with Company A, 114th Engineer Combat Battalion, 32nd Infantry Division.

On that day, PVT Mittleberger’s unit was in action against Japanese forces during the Papuan Campaign at Buna, New Guinea. The Urbana Force was having a tough time in front of strong defenses around the junction of the trails that forked toward Buna Village and Buna Mission from the Dobodura-Buna track. This area was known as the Triangle. When the Japanese evacuated the Triangle, a mass of bunkers and entrenchments surrounded by swamp, they gave up a strong position that Urbana Force had found impossible to capture. The Division commander ordered an attack on Buna Mission at once and the attacking battalion was to be split into 2 elements – one to cross on the bridge at the northeast end of the island, the other to move in assault boats from the south side of the island. There was a gap in the bridge that was covered by enemy fire. Six men volunteered to go forward with timbers to span the gap in the footbridge, a hazardous task, as the bridge was about 40 feet long. PVT Mittleberger was one of the six. They succeeded in getting the timbers in place, but when the leading men of Company K started across the pilings, the far end of the bridge collapsed and was again useless. PVT Mittleberger was killed while on the bridge. PVT Mittleberger’s courageous actions and extraordinary heroism that day earned him, at the cost of his life, the U.S. Army's second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross.

The other five men with PVT Mittleberger were all later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Medals and Awards

Distinguished Service Cross
Purple Heart
Army Good Conduct Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Arrowhead Pin and Bronze Star
World War II Victory Medal

Distinguished Service Cross Citation (Synopsis)

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Earl Mittleberger (37039378), Private, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company A, 114th Engineer Combat Battalion, 32d Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 28 December 1942, during the Papuan Campaign at Buna, New Guinea. Private Mittleberger's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 32d Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

Headquarters, South West Pacific Area, General Orders No. 10 (1943)


Private First Class Earl Mittleberger is buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila, Metro Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines, in Plot F, Row 12, Grave 28.

Honoree ID: 152445   Created by: MHOH




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