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First Name: Harold

Last Name: Messerschmidt

Birthplace: Grier City, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Chester, PA
Middle Name: O.

Date of Birth: 1923

Date of Death: 17 September 1944

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served: 1943 - 1944
Harold O. Messerschmidt

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Harold O. Messerschmidt

Sergeant, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Sergeant Harold O. Messerschmidt (1923 - 17 September 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 World War II.

Harold O. Messerschmidt was born in Grier City, PA, in 1923. He joined the Army from Chester, PA. On 17 September 1944, he was was serving as a Sergeant in Company L, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. During a German attack that day near Radden, France, he led and encouraged his men against an overwhelming assault by the enemy. After everyone in his unit had been killed or wounded, ignoring his own wounds, he continued to fight the enemy force alone in hand-to-hand combat until he was killed. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company L, 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Radden, France, 17 September 1944.

Citation: He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. Braving machinegun, machine pistol, and rifle fire, he moved fearlessly and calmly from man to man along his 40-yard squad front, encouraging each to hold against the overwhelming assault of a fanatical foe surging up the hillside. Knocked to the ground by a burst from an enemy automatic weapon, he immediately jumped to his feet, and ignoring his grave wounds, fired his submachine gun at the enemy that was now upon them, killing 5 and wounding many others before his ammunition was spent. Virtually surrounded by a frenzied foe and all of his squad now casualties, he elected to fight alone, using his empty submachine gun as a bludgeon against his assailants. Spotting 1 of the enemy about to kill a wounded comrade, he felled the German with a blow of his weapon. Seeing friendly reinforcements running up the hill, he continued furiously to wield his empty gun against the foe in a new attack, and it was thus that he made the supreme sacrifice. Sgt. Messerschmidt's sustained heroism in hand-to-hand combat with superior enemy forces was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.

Death and Burial

Sergeant Harold O. Messerschmidt was killed in action on 17 September 1944. He is buried at Christ Lutheran Church Cemetery in Barnesville, PA.

Honoree ID: 1540   Created by: MHOH




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