Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The Distinguished Service Cross And The Navy Cross Awarded To Two Men From Schuylkill County
Pine Grove Soldier Awarded The Distinguished Service Cross For Bravery
T/Sgt Irvin R. Schwartz.
Sgt. Schwartz played an important part in halting a German advance into Belgium, near the town of Spa, in a battle lasting from dawn until late afternoon one day last November.
He was awarded the DSC for this action. Withdrawn from rest after the battle of Huertgen forest, the 26th Infantry regiment, 1st Infantry Division formed a line of resistance against a threatened German break through. The 21st Panzer Grenadier Division attacked on force using a fast moving powerful tank infantry team.
Sergeant Schwartz’ antitank platoon fought as riflemen until three German tanks burst through the dense brush, 10 yards distant; firing their antitank guns at point blank range Schwartz and his men destroyed the panzers and mopped up the infantry in a fierce costly struggle. Shortly thereafter three additional tanks were crippled before their guns were smashed. The battle went on from fox holes under the direction of Sergeant Schwartz. Schwartz’s men stalked the German T=tanks with bazooka and poured small arms fire into the German infantry ranks. Stubborn defense and aggressive action stopped the German thrust.
Twenty eight panzer 50 in the sector were destroyed, eight by Sgt. Schwartz’s platoon. Twenty two men remained alive in G Company, and only a handful in his platoon.
For his part in fighting and aggressive leadership Major General Andrus awarded Sergeant Schwartz the Distinguished Service Cross at Asch, Czech. He also wears the Bronze Star and Presidential Unit Citation.
Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) is the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Army, for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. Actions that merit the Distinguished Service Cross must be of such a high degree to be above those required for all other U.S. combat decorations but not meeting the criteria for the Medal of Honor. The Distinguished Service Cross is equivalent to the Navy Cross (Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) and the Air Force Cross (Air Force).
SCHWARTZ, IRVIN R.
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Irvin R. Schwartz, Corporal, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 21 December 1944. Corporal Schwartz's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 1st Infantry Division, and the United States Army.
Headquarters, First U.S. Army, General Orders No. 51 (1945)
Pottsville Marine Gets Navy Cross For Blasting Jap Machine Gun Nest On Iwo Jima
Sgt. Robert Sheipe
The Navy Cross may be awarded to any person who, while serving with the Navy or Marine Corps, distinguishes himself in action by extraordinary heroism not justifying an award of the Medal of Honor. The action must take place under one of three circumstances: while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or, while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict in which the United States is not a belligerent party. To earn a Navy Cross the act to be commended must be performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk and must be performed in such a manner as to render the individual highly conspicuous among others of equal grade, rate, experience, or position of responsibility. An accumulation of minor acts of heroism does not justify an award of the Navy Cross.
By Sgt Jack C. Smith
Marine Corps Combat Correspondent
Maui, T.H. For wiping out a Jap position with hand grenades on Iwo Jima, although twice wounded in the attempt. Sgt Robert Sheipe 20 Pottsville, Pa. received the Navy Cross.
Sgt. Sheipe a member of the Fourth Marine Division also fought at Roi-Namur, Saipan and Tinian.
“while voluntarily attempting to neutralize the fire of an enemy machine gun nest that was holding up the advance of his company,” his citation reads,”Sgt. Shipe was painfully wounded in the neck by an enemy sniper.
“Realizing that it was impossible to neutralize the position by counter machine gun fire he refused immediate evacuation and worked his way forward under intense sniper fire to a position where he was able to throw hand grenades into the emplacement.
“Although wounded although wounded again, Corporal Sheipe bravely continued to hurl hand grenades until the position. The citation stated.
Robert Sheipe’s Navy Cross
Awarded for actions during the World War II
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Corporal Robert G. Sheipe (MCSN: 457872), United States Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty while serving as a Machine Gun Squad Leader of Company L, Third Battalion, Twenty-Fifth Marines, FOURTH Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 26 February 1945. Volunteering his services for a hazardous mission, Corporal Sheipe attempted to neutralize the fire of a hostile machine gun holding up the advance of his company. Realizing the impossibility of completing his mission by counter machine-gun fire after he had been wounded, he refused immediate evacuation to work his way forward under intense sniper fire to a position where he was able to throw hand grenades into the emplacement. Although wounded again, Corporal Sheipe bravely continued to hurl hand grenades until the position was destroyed and the occupants annihilated. His outstanding courage, determination and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
General Orders: SPOT AWARD, Fleet Marine Force Pacific: Serial 41646 ( Signed January 26, 1948)
Action Date: 26-Feb-45
Service: Marine Corps Reserve
Company: Company L
Battalion: 3d Battalion
Regiment: 25th Marines
Division: 4th Marine Division
A few notes on the Battle of Iwo Jima, up to the 26th of February 1945 at which time Corporal Sheipe’s action took place. Sheipe belonged to the Co L, 3rd Battalion. 25th Marines Following info is taken from the “History of the Fourth Marines In WW2”…………………..
Thus by the night of D-day, the Division had all three of its rifle regiments (less some
Support Group elements), two battalions of artillery, and some heavy Shore Party equipment
ashore. Despite the withering enemy fire and extremely heavy casualties, the assault
units had driven ahead and established a line that Included the eastern edge of Airfield
No. 1 and was "of sufficient depth Inland from Blue Beaches to guarantee the successful
holding of the beachhead." Full contact with the Fifth Division had been established,
and adequate supplies were ashore for a continuation of the attack the next day.
The night of D-day was spent In trying to get ready for the next day's operations.
Some units had suffered terrible casualties:
BLT 3/25, for example, had lost 50% of Its men.
Accordingly, reserve companies and battalions were sent in to be attached to or to
relieve the most battered units. On the beach that night, in spite of all efforts, "no appreciable
progress was made in clearing the beaches of wrecked landing craft.** Enemy
harassing fire continued to fall all night long throughout the Division Zone.
As dawn came on February 20 (D plus 1), the men of the Fourth Division prepared for King hour:
At 0830 the assault began with RCT 23 on the left and
RCT 25 on the right. Through bitter enemy opposition, the 23rd Marines, reinforced with
tanks, fought its way across Airfield No. 1 to complete its capture by 1600. On the other flank, RCT 25 made little progress. Minefields prevented the use of tanks; terrain was very unfavorable; enemy resistance was fanatical, and the 25th's left flank was necessarily anchored to the adjoining unit of the 23rd Marines.
These first two days ashore left no doubt In anyone's mind that this would be the
Division's toughest battle. Losses already totaled 2,01l.***
Ashore, the sand proved a nightmare. Foxholes caved in, wheeled vehicles could not
move, and there was no cover from enemy fire. Japs deep In reinforced concrete piliboxes
laid down interlocking bands of fire that cut whole companies to ribbons. Camouflage
hid all the enemy installations. The high ground on every side was honeycombed with
layer after layer of Jap emplacements, blockhouses, dugouts, and observation posts. Their
observation was perfect; whenever the Marines made a move, the Japs watched every
step, and when the moment came, their mortars, rockets, machine guns, and artillery
long ago zeroed in—would smother the area In a murderous blanket of fire. The counterbattery fire and preparatory barrages of Marine artillery and naval gunfire were often Ineffective, for the Japs would merely retire to a lower level or inner cave and wait until the storm had passed. Then they would emerge and blast the advancing Marines.
In spite of all this, Fourth and Fifth Divisions moved ahead. After splitting the Island
On February 21 (D plus 2), after repulsing a night counter-attack by the Japs, the
Fourth Division attacked again. RCT 25 moved forward along the right flank by the East
The Division combat efficiency was already down to 68%. Although the day's advances averaged only100-250 yards, the enemy had been driven from the cliff heights and Quarry area on the Division right flank0 while the left flank was approaching Airfield No. 2. Furthermore,
reinforcements were becoming available.
The American flag was raised on top of Mt. Suribachi (by the 28th Marines) at 1037
on February 23 (D plus 4)
RCT 24 had regained its detached battalions, and it relieved the 25th Marines on the right flank. RCT 25 reverted to Division Reserve.
Thus It went, day after day. The Zaps would attempt small counter-attacks or Inifitratlons
each night. Every morning after an artillery preparation, the Division would
Jump off in the attack against an endless series of concealed plilboxes and mutually supporting
positions. The three rifle regiments and their battalions were shuffled In and out
of the line In an effort to equalize the burden of assault work. Casualties continued to be
Starting about February 26 (D plus 7), the Division began w.orking Its way into the
enemy's main defense line of prepared positions. For the next week it ground slowly forward,
suffering bloody losses, and engaged in the most savage type of close combat. The
Zap line was based on a series of strongpoints known as Hill 382, the Amphitheatre, Turkey
Knob, and the village of Minami.
RCT 25 on the right of the Division had been engaged In equally fierce fighting during
this same period. Its left flank elements (mainly BLT 1/25) had run into a cliff-line and
the Turkey Knob defenses. No amount of shelling, demolitions, flamethrowers, or riflemen
seemed to dent the enemy's fanatical resistance here. Time and again advances
would be made at the cost of very heavy casualties, only to find that the position reached
was untenable at the end of the day, and that a withdrawal was necessary. Every possible
solution was tried. A surprise attack was launched without any artillery preparation. Out flankings and envelopments were attempted. To silence one concrete blockhouse In a
commanding position on top of the cliff-line, a 75mm howitzer was packed up to the front
lines, assembled, and put into action. Nothing seemed to succeed. After days of bloody battering, advances finally were made so that the Zap pocket
at Turkey Knob was nearly isolated. RCT 25, however, was worn out, and on March 3 It
was relieved by the 23rd Marines.
The Division had broken the back of the Jap line, but at a terrible cost. As of March 3,
It had lost 6,591 men. In spite of receiving a draft of replacements, the Division's combat
efficiency had fallen to 50%..