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Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army

James William Reese

  • Rank: Private
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    26th Infantry,
    1st Infantry Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: August 5, 1943
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Mount Vassillio, Sicily
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty in action involving actual conflict with the enemy. When the enemy launched a counterattack which threatened the position of his company, Pvt. Reese, as the acting squad leader of a 60-mm mortar squad, displayed superior leadership on his own initiative, maneuvered his squad forward to a favorable position from which, by skillfully directing the fire of his weapon, he caused many casualties in the enemy ranks, and aided materially in repulsing the counterattack. When the enemy fire became so severe as to make his position untenable, he ordered the other members of his squad to withdraw to a safer position, but declined to seek safety for himself. So as to bring more effective fire upon the enemy, Pvt. Reese, without assistance, moved his mortar to a new position and attacked an enemy machine-gun nest. He had only three rounds of ammunition but secured a direct hit with his last round, completely destroying the nest and killing the occupants. Ammunition being exhausted, he abandoned the mortar, seized a rifle, and continued to advance, moving into an exposed position overlooking the enemy. Despite a heavy concentration of machine-gun, mortar, and artillery fire, the heaviest experienced by his unit throughout the entire Sicilian campaign, he remained at this position and continued to inflict casualties upon the enemy until he was killed. His bravery, coupled with his gallant and unswerving determination to close with the enemy, regardless of consequences and obstacles which he faced, are a priceless inspiration to our Armed Forces.
Medal of Honor Recipient James W. Reese
Medal of Honor Recipient James W. Reese
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Chester, Delaware County, Pennsylvania
  • Awarded Posthumously: Yes
  • Presentation Date & Details: December 1943
    Fort Dupont, Delaware, presented by Maj. Gen. Lunsford Oliver to his family
  • Born: 1920, Chester, Delaware County, PA, United States
  • Died: August 5, 1943, Sicily, Italy
  • Buried: Chester Rural Cemetery (PM) (Soldier;s Circle), Chester, PA, United States

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