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First Name: Robert

Last Name: Viale

Birthplace: Bayside, CA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Ukiah, CA
Middle Name: M.

Date of Birth: 21 April 1916

Date of Death: 05 February 1945

Rank: Second Lieutenant

Years Served: 1941 - 1945
Robert M. Viale

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Robert M. Viale

Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Second Lieutenant Robert M. Viale (21 April 1916 - 5 February 1945) 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 World War II.

Robert M. Viale was born on 21 April 1916 in Bayside, CA. He joined the Army from Ukiah, CA. On 5 February 1945, he was serving as a Second Lieutenant in Company K, 148th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Division. During combat that day in Manila, capital of the Philippines, Viale covered the blast of an accidentally dropped hand grenade with his body, sacrificing himself to protect the soldiers and civilians around him. For his actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company K, 148th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division.

Place and date: Manila, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 5 February 1945.

Citation: He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. Forced by the enemy's detonation of prepared demolitions to shift the course of his advance through the city, he led the 1st platoon toward a small bridge, where heavy fire from 3 enemy pillboxes halted the unit. With 2 men he crossed the bridge behind screening grenade smoke to attack the pillboxes. The first he knocked out himself while covered by his men's protecting fire; the other 2 were silenced by 1 of his companions and a bazooka team which he had called up. He suffered a painful wound in the right arm during the action. After his entire platoon had joined him, he pushed ahead through mortar fire and encircling flames. Blocked from the only escape route by an enemy machinegun placed at a street corner, he entered a nearby building with his men to explore possible means of reducing the emplacement. In 1 room he found civilians huddled together, in another, a small window placed high in the wall and reached by a ladder. Because of the relative positions of the window, ladder, and enemy emplacement, he decided that he, being left-handed, could better hurl a grenade than 1 of his men who had made an unsuccessful attempt. Grasping an armed grenade, he started up the ladder. His wounded right arm weakened, and, as he tried to steady himself, the grenade fell to the floor. In the 5 seconds before the grenade would explode, he dropped down, recovered the grenade and looked for a place to dispose of it safely. Finding no way to get rid of the grenade without exposing his own men or the civilians to injury or death, he turned to the wall, held it close to his body and bent over it as it exploded. 2d Lt. Viale died in a few minutes, but his heroic act saved the lives of others.


A small arms firing range at Ohio National Guard Training Site, Camp Perry, OH, is named in honor of 2LT Viale. Camp Perry is the home of the National Rifle and Pistol Championships.

At Camp Roberts in California, a grenade range is named after 2LT Viale. His citation is written on the grenade range sign.

Death and Burial

Second Lieutenant Robert M. Viale was killed in action on 5 February 1945. He is buried at Ocean View Cemetery in Eureka, CA, in Section N, Grave #91.

Honoree ID: 1688   Created by: MHOH




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