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First Name: John

Last Name: McVeigh

Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Philadelphia, PA
Middle Name: J.

Date of Birth: 1921

Date of Death: 29 August 1944

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served: 1942 - 1944
John J. McVeigh

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


John J. McVeigh

Sergeant, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Sergeant John J. McVeigh (1921 - 29 August 1944) 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 heroic actions during the Battle for Brest in World War II.

John J. McVeigh joined the Army from his birth city of Philadelphia, PA. On 29 August 1944, he was serving as a Sergeant in Company H, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. During a German counterattack that day near Brest, France, he directed his squad's fire and, when his position was almost overrun, single-handedly charged the Germans with his only weapon, a trench knife. McVeigh was killed in the attack and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U .S. Army, Company H, 23d Infantry, 2d Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Brest, France, 29 August 1944.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty near Brest, France, on 29 August 1944. Shortly after dusk an enemy counterattack of platoon strength was launched against 1 platoon of Company G, 23d Infantry. Since the Company G platoon was not dug in and had just begun to assume defensive positions along a hedge, part of the line sagged momentarily under heavy fire from small arms and 2 flak guns, leaving a section of heavy machineguns holding a wide frontage without rifle protection. The enemy drive moved so swiftly that German riflemen were soon almost on top of 1 machinegun position. Sgt. McVeigh, heedless of a tremendous amount of small arms and flak fire directed toward him, stood up in full view of the enemy and directed the fire of his squad on the attacking Germans until his position was almost overrun. He then drew his trench knife and single-handedly charged several of the enemy. In a savage hand-to-hand struggle, Sgt. McVeigh killed 1 German with the knife, his only weapon, and was advancing on 3 more of the enemy when he was shot down and killed with small arms fire at pointblank range. Sgt. McVeigh's heroic act allowed the 2 remaining men in his squad to concentrate their machinegun fire on the attacking enemy and then turn their weapons on the 3 Germans in the road, killing all 3. Fire from this machinegun and the other gun of the section was almost entirely responsible for stopping this enemy assault, and allowed the rifle platoon to which it was attached time to reorganize, assume positions on and hold the high ground gained during the day.

Death and Burial

Sergeant John J. McVeigh was killed in action on 29 August 1944. He is buried at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Cheltenham, PA, in Section 32, Range 21, Lot 13.

Honoree ID: 1535   Created by: MHOH




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