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First Name: John

Last Name: Towle

Birthplace: Cleveland, OH, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Cleveland, OH
Middle Name: Roderick

Date of Birth: 19 October 1924

Date of Death: 21 September 1944

Rank: Private

Years Served: 1943 - 1944
John Roderick Towle

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


John Roderick Towle

Private, Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Private John Roderick Towle (19 October 1924 - 21 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.

John Roderick Towle was born on 19 October 1924 in Cleveland, OH; he also joined the Army from his birth city. On 21 September 1944, he was serving as a Private in Company C, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. Near Oosterhout in the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden that day, Towle engaged a German force with his rocket launcher in an attempt to disable two enemy tanks and a half track. He was killed during the battle and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company C, 504th Parachute Infantry, 82d Airborne Division.

Place and date: Near Oosterhout, Holland, 21 September 1944.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 21 September 1944, near Oosterhout, Holland. The rifle company in which Pvt. Towle served as rocket launcher gunner was occupying a defensive position in the west sector of the recently established Nijmegen bridgehead when a strong enemy force of approximately 100 infantry supported by 2 tanks and a half-track formed for a counterattack. With full knowledge of the disastrous consequences resulting not only to his company but to the entire bridgehead by an enemy breakthrough, Pvt. Towle immediately and without orders left his foxhole and moved 200 yards in the face of intense small-arms fire to a position on an exposed dike roadbed. From this precarious position Pvt. Towle fired his rocket launcher at and hit both tanks to his immediate front. Armored skirting on both tanks prevented penetration by the projectiles, but both vehicles withdrew slightly damaged. Still under intense fire and fully exposed to the enemy, Pvt. Towle then engaged a nearby house which 9 Germans had entered and were using as a strongpoint and with 1 round killed all 9. Hurriedly replenishing his supply of ammunition, Pvt. Towle, motivated only by his high conception of duty which called for the destruction of the enemy at any cost, then rushed approximately 125 yards through grazing enemy fire to an exposed position from which he could engage the enemy half-track with his rocket launcher. While in a kneeling position preparatory to firing on the enemy vehicle, Pvt. Towle was mortally wounded by a mortar shell. By his heroic tenacity, at the price of his life, Pvt. Towle saved the lives of many of his comrades and was directly instrumental in breaking up the enemy counterattack.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart


The USNS Private John R. Towle (T-AK-240) was named in his honor.

Towle Fitness Center, Bastogne & Ardennes Ft. Bragg, NC, was named in his honor.

Death and Burial

Private John Roderick Towle was killed in action on 21 September 1944. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in his hometown of Cleveland, OH, in Section 60, Lot 53, Grave 1.

Honoree ID: 1676   Created by: MHOH




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