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Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army

John D Kelly

  • Rank: Corporal (Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant)
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    Company E, 314th Infantry,
    79th Infantry Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: June 25, 1944
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Fort du Roule, Cherbourg, France

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On 25 June 1944, in the vicinity of Fort du Roule, Cherbourg, France, when Cpl. Kelly's unit was pinned down by heavy enemy machine-gun fire emanating from a deeply entrenched strongpoint on the slope leading up to the fort, Cpl. Kelly volunteered to attempt to neutralize the strongpoint. Armed himself with a pole charge about 10 feet long and with 15 pounds of explosive affixed, he climbed the slope under a withering blast of machine-gun fire and placed the charge at the strongpoint's base. The subsequent blast was ineffective, and again, alone and unhesitatingly, he braved the slope to repeat the operation. This second blast blew off the ends of the enemy guns. Cpl. Kelly then climbed the slope a third time to place a pole charge at the strongpoint's rear entrance. When this had been blown open he hurled grenades inside the position, forcing survivors of the enemy guncrews to come out and surrender. The gallantry, tenacity of purpose, and utter disregard for personal safety displayed by Cpl. Kelly were an incentive to his comrades and worthy of emulation by all.

Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Cambridge Springs, Crawford County, Pennsylvania
  • Awarded Posthumously: Yes
  • Presentation Date & Details: September 9, 1953

    Presented by Vice Pres. Richard M. Nixon to his Mother

  • Born: July 8, 1923, Venango Township, Crawford County, PA, United States
  • Died: November 23, 1944, France
  • Buried: A.B.M.C. Epinal Cemetery (MH) (A-44-7), Epinal, France

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