Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Where Do We Get Such Men Part 3
The Vosges Mountains are located in the northeast portion of France. Heavy fighting took place there in August and September of 1944. The fighting there would terminate the foot hold German troops had on France. Fighting in this area was the famous 3rd Infantry Division. Because of their fierce fighting methods the Germans still held a portion of the Belfort Gap in the Vosges. On the 15th of September the 3rd ID was on the move marching north toward the French town of Faucogney.
Fighting with the 3rd ID was Schuylkill Countian Sgt. Harold O. Messerschmidt born in Grier City, Schuylkill County. Sgt. Messerschmidt enlisted in the U.S. Army at Chester, Pa. On the 17th of September Messerschmidt’s unit, Company L 30th Infantry Regt. was in the process of trying to capture a small village west of Faucogney named Raddon. Company L had just taken a heavily forested ridge that dominated an important and strategic road. About mid day a heavy tank and artillery fire swept the ridge immediately followed by advancing German infantry over 200 strong. One member of the unit stated” They rushed into our fire in an insane manner, as if they had been given liquor or drugs.” For six hours Sgt. Messerschmidt and the men of his squad held the right flank of the company and resisted wave after wave of the fanatical German troops. Sgt. Messerschmidt ran out of ammunition and was the only member of his squad still standing, he used his Tommy gun as a club to kill as many Germans as he could. A last ditch charge by the enemy came rushing up the slope and caught Sgt. Messerschmidt still wielding his empty weapon were upon he was killed. At the end of this engagement Company L was down to only four squads and very nearly out of ammunition, but they held the ridge.
Sgt. Harold Messerschmidt was awarded the Medal Of Honor posthumously on 17 July 1946.
Sergeant Messerschmidt, Harold O. Army
Medal of Honor
SERGEANT HAROLD O. MESSERSCHMIDT
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company L, 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Radden, France, 17 September 1944. Entered service at: Chester, Pa. Birth: Grier City, Pa. G.O. No.: 71, 17 July 1946.
Citation: He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. Braving machinegun, machine pistol, and rifle fire, he moved fearlessly and calmly from man to man along his 40-yard squad front, encouraging each to hold against the overwhelming assault of a fanatical foe surging up the hillside. Knocked to the ground by a burst from an enemy automatic weapon, he immediately jumped to his feet, and ignoring his grave wounds, fired his submachine gun at the enemy that was now upon them, killing 5 and wounding many others before his ammunition was spent. Virtually surrounded by a frenzied foe and all of his squad now casualties, he elected to fight alone, using his empty submachine gun as a bludgeon against his assailants. Spotting 1 of the enemy about to kill a wounded comrade, he felled the German with a blow of his weapon. Seeing friendly reinforcements running up the hill, he continued furiously to wield his empty gun against the foe in a new attack, and it was thus that he made the supreme sacrifice. Sgt. Messerschmidt's sustained heroism in hand-to-hand combat with superior enemy forces was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service .
Sgt. Harold O. Messershmidt is buried in the:
Christ Lutheran Church Cemetery