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First Name: Robert

Last Name: Nett

Birthplace: New Haven, CT, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: New Haven, CT
Middle Name: Burton

Date of Birth: 09 June 1922

Date of Death: 19 October 2008

Rank: Colonel

Years Served: 1940 - 1978
Robert Burton Nett

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Robert Burton Nett

Colonel, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Colonel Robert Burton Nett (9 June 1922 - 19 October 2008) was a U.S. Army officer and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the campaign to recapture the Philippines in World War II. He also served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Robert Burton Nett was born on 9 June 1922 in New Haven, CT. Nett enlisted in the Army National Guard at New Haven in 1940 at age 17. The minimum enlistment age was 18 years, but Nett was able to join by creasing his birth certificate so that his year of birth was obscured. Two years later, he was stationed at Fort Benning, GA, where he graduated from Officer Candidate School. Nett was then sent to the Philippines, where he met his future wife, Frances, an Army nurse.

On 14 December 1944, Nett was a Lieutenant in Company E of the 305th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division. Near Cognon, Leyte that day, during the Battle of Ormoc Bay, Nett led his company in an assault against a heavily fortified Japanese position. Despite being seriously wounded twice in hand-to-hand fighting, he continued to lead his men until being wounded a third time. After making arrangements for the leadership of his company, he left the front lines to seek medical aid. Later, he would be presented with the Medal of Honor for his heroism at Cognon.

Nett was able to rejoin his unit for the Okinawa Campaign. His division was then sent to Cebu and began training for the planned invasion of Japan. The operation was canceled after the surrender of Japan in August 1945.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Captain (then Lieutenant), U.S. Army, Company E, 305th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Cognon, Leyte, Philippine Islands, 14 December 1944.

Citation: He commanded Company E in an attack against a reinforced enemy battalion which had held up the American advance for 2 days from its entrenched positions around a 3-story concrete building. With another infantry company and armored vehicles, Company E advanced against heavy machinegun and other automatic weapons fire with Lt. Nett spearheading the assault against the strongpoint. During the fierce hand-to-hand encounter which ensued, he killed 7 deeply entrenched Japanese with his rifle and bayonet and, although seriously wounded, gallantly continued to lead his men forward, refusing to relinquish his command. Again he was severely wounded, but, still unwilling to retire, pressed ahead with his troops to assure the capture of the objective. Wounded once more in the final assault, he calmly made all arrangements for the resumption of the advance, turned over his command to another officer, and then walked unaided to the rear for medical treatment. By his remarkable courage in continuing forward through sheer determination despite successive wounds, Lt. Nett provided an inspiring example for his men and was instrumental in the capture of a vital strongpoint.

On 8 February 1946, Nett was presented the Medal of Honor for his actions at Cognon. A ceremony was held in his hometown of New Haven, and President Harry S. Truman was to have presented him with the medal there, but had to cancel in order to attend to the formation of the United Nations in California, Nett told a reporter.

Nett continued his 33 years of service in the Army after the war, retiring with the rank of Colonel.

Post-Military Life

Nett gave frequent talks on leadership and duty, lecturing to every class of the Officer Candidate School (OCS); he was frequently invited to speak to the Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning. He is considered the "Father of the Officer Candidate School."

After his retirement, he spent 17 years as a teacher in the Columbus, GA, school system.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device and 2 Oak Leaf Clusters (3 Awards)
Purple Heart


Nett was inducted into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame and the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame, an honor reserved for OCS graduates who received the Medal of Honor or rose to the rank of colonel.

The classroom building in the OCS area at Ft. Benning was named for him.

The Leadership Hall for the Connecticut National Guard at Camp Rell in Niantic was named in his honor.

In January 2007 the United Service Organizations (USO) awarded him its Spirit of Hope Award.

Death and Burial

Colonel Robert Burton Nett died on 19 October 2008 at Fort Benning, GA. He is buried in the Fort Benning Post Cemetery at Fort Benning, Muscogee County, GA.

He was survived by his wife, Frances, of Columbus, GA, and their son, Dr. Robert Nett Jr., a medical doctor, who also served in the U.S. Army.

Honoree ID: 1565   Created by: MHOH




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