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First Name: John

Last Name: Gertsch

Birthplace: Jersey City, NJ, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Buffalo, NY
Middle Name: Gary

Date of Birth: 29 September 1945

Date of Death: 19 July 1969

Rank: Staff Sergeant

Years Served: 1965 - 1969
John Gary Gertsch

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


John Gary Gertsch
Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Vietnam War

Staff Sergeant John Gary Gertsch (29 September 1945 - 19 July 1969) 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 in the Vietnam War.

John Gary Gertsch was born on 29 September 1945, in Jersey City, NJ. He went to high school in Sheffield Area Middle/Senior High School (SAMSHS) in Sheffield, PA. Gertsch joined the Army from Buffalo, NY. On 15 July 1969, he was serving as a Staff Sergeant in Company E, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. During a series of engagements on that day and the four days following, in the A Shau Valley of the Republic of Vietnam, Gertsch commanded his platoon after their leader was wounded; he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to rescue wounded soldiers and attack the enemy. Mortally wounded on19 July, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Medal of Honor

Citation: S/Sgt. Gertsch distinguished himself while serving as a platoon sergeant and platoon leader during combat operations in the A Shau Valley. During the initial phase of an operation to seize a strongly defended enemy position, S/Sgt. Gertsch's platoon leader was seriously wounded and lay exposed to intense enemy fire. Forsaking his own safety, without hesitation S/Sgt. Gertsch rushed to aid his fallen leader and dragged him to a sheltered position. He then assumed command of the heavily engaged platoon and led his men in a fierce counterattack that forced the enemy to withdraw. Later, a small element of S/Sgt. Gertsch's unit was reconnoitering when attacked again by the enemy. S/Sgt. Gertsch moved forward to his besieged element and immediately charged, firing as he advanced. His determined assault forced the enemy troops to withdraw in confusion and made possible the recovery of 2 wounded men who had been exposed to heavy enemy fire. Sometime later his platoon came under attack by an enemy force employing automatic weapons, grenade, and rocket fire. S/Sgt. Gertsch was severely wounded during the onslaught but continued to command his platoon despite his painful wound. While moving under fire and encouraging his men he sighted an aidman treating a wounded officer from an adjacent unit. Realizing that both men were in imminent danger of being killed, he rushed forward and positioned himself between them and the enemy nearby. While the wounded officer was being moved to safety S/Sgt. Gertsch was mortally wounded by enemy fire. Without S/Sgt. Gertsch's courage, ability to inspire others, and profound concern for the welfare of his men, the loss of life among his fellow soldiers would have been significantly greater. His conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism, and intrepidity at the cost of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit on him and the Armed Forces of his country.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Silver Star Medal (2)
Bronze Star Medal (3)
Purple Heart (3)

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

John Gary Gertsch's name is inscribed on Panel 20W, Row 019.

Death and Burial

Staff Sergeant John Gary Gertsch was killed in action on 19 July 1969. He is buried at Christ Our Redeemer Catholic Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA.

Honoree ID: 957   Created by: MHOH




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