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First Name: Wilburn

Last Name: Ross

Birthplace: Strunk, KY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Strunk, KY
Middle Name: Kirby

Date of Birth: 12 May 1922

Rank: Master Sergeant

Years Served:
Wilburn Kirby Ross

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Wilburn Kirby Ross

Master Sergeant, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Master Sergeant Wilburn Kirby Ross is a retired U.S. Army soldier and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in World War II.

Wilburn Kirby Ross was born on 12 May 1922 in Strunk, KY; he also joined the Army from Strunk. On 30 October 1944, he was serving as a Private in Company G, 350th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. Near St. Jacques, France, that day, Ross manned a machine gun through repeated German assaults, holding off the enemy even after his supporting riflemen had run out of ammunition. For his actions during the battle, he was issued the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company G, 350th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near St. Jacques, France, 30 October 1944.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty near St. Jacques, France. At 11:30 a.m. on 30 October 1944, after his company had lost 55 out of 88 men in an attack on an entrenched, full-strength German company of elite mountain troops, Pvt. Ross placed his light machinegun 10 yards in advance of the foremost supporting riflemen in order to absorb the initial impact of an enemy counterattack. With machinegun and small-arms fire striking the earth near him, he fired with deadly effect on the assaulting force and repelled it. Despite the hail of automatic fire and the explosion of rifle grenades within a stone's throw of his position, he continued to man his machinegun alone, holding off 6 more German attacks. When the eighth assault was launched, most of his supporting riflemen were out of ammunition. They took positions in echelon behind Pvt. Ross and crawled up, during the attack, to extract a few rounds of ammunition from his machinegun ammunition belt. Pvt. Ross fought on virtually without assistance and, despite the fact that enemy grenadiers crawled to within 4 yards of his position in an effort to kill him with hand grenades, he again directed accurate and deadly fire on the hostile force and hurled it back. After expending his last rounds, Pvt. Ross was advised to withdraw to the company command post, together with 8 surviving riflemen, but, as more ammunition was expected, he declined to do so. The Germans launched their last all-out attack, converging their fire on Pvt. Ross in a desperate attempt to destroy the machinegun which stood between them and a decisive breakthrough. As his supporting riflemen fixed bayonets for a last-ditch stand, fresh ammunition arrived and was brought to Pvt. Ross just as the advance assault elements were about to swarm over his position. He opened murderous fire on the oncoming enemy; killed 40 and wounded 10 of the attacking force; broke the assault single-handedly, and forced the Germans to withdraw. Having killed or wounded at least 58 Germans in more than 5 hours of continuous combat and saved the remnants of his company from destruction, Pvt. Ross remained at his post that night and the following day for a total of 36 hours. His actions throughout this engagement were an inspiration to his comrades and maintained the high traditions of the military service.

Ross reached the rank of Master Sergeant before retiring from the Army.

Honoree ID: 1624   Created by: MHOH




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