Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army

John J McVeigh

  • Rank: Sergeant
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    Company H, 23d Infantry,
    2d Infantry Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: August 29, 1944
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: near Brest, France

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty near Brest, France, on 29 August 1944. Shortly after dusk an enemy counterattack of platoon strength was launched against one platoon of Company G, 23d Infantry. Since the Company G platoon was not dug in and had just begun to assume defensive positions along a hedge, part of the line sagged momentarily under heavy fire from small-arms and two flak guns, leaving a section of heavy machine guns holding a wide frontage without rifle protection. The enemy drive moved so swiftly that German riflemen were soon almost on top of one machine-gun position. Sgt. McVeigh, heedless of a tremendous amount of small-arms and flak fire directed toward him, stood up in full view of the enemy and directed the fire of his squad on the attacking Germans until his position was almost overrun. He then drew his trench knife, and singlehandedly charged several of the enemy. In a savage hand-to-hand struggle, Sgt. McVeigh killed one German with the knife, his only weapon, and was advancing on three more of the enemy when he was shot down and killed with small-arms fire at point-blank range. Sgt. McVeigh's heroic act allowed the two remaining men in his squad to concentrate their machine-gun fire on the attacking enemy and then turn their weapons on the three Germans in the road, killing all three. Fire from this machine gun and the other gun of the section was almost entirely responsible for stopping the enemy assault, and allowing the rifle platoon to which it was attached time to reorganize, assume positions on and hold the high ground gained during the day.

Medal of Honor Recipient John J. McVeigh
Medal of Honor Recipient John J. McVeigh
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
  • Awarded Posthumously: Yes
  • Presentation Date & Details: April 20, 1945

    Presented to his daughter, Joan, at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Brig. Gen. Malcolm F. Lindsey.

  • Born: September 26, 1921, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA, United States
  • Died: August 29, 1944, France
  • Buried: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery (PMH) (32-21-13), Philadelphia, PA, United States

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