Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army

Orville Emil Bloch

  • Rank: First Lieutenant (Highest Rank: Colonel)
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    Company E, 338th Infantry,
    85th Infantry Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: September 22, 1944
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: near Firenzuola, Italy

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. First Lt. Bloch undertook the task of wiping out five enemy machine-gun nests that had held up the advance in that particular sector for one day. Gathering three volunteers from his platoon, the patrol snaked their way to a big rock, behind which a group of three buildings and five machine-gun nests were located. Leaving the three men behind the rock, he attacked the first machine-gun nest alone charging into furious automatic fire, kicking over the machine gun and capturing the machine-gun crew of five. Pulling the pin from a grenade, he held it ready in his hand and dashed into the face of withering automatic fire toward this second machine-gun nest located at the corner of an adjacent building 15 yards distant. When within 20 feet of the machine gun he hurled the grenade, wounding the machine gunner, the other two members of the crew fleeing into a door of the house. Calling one of his volunteer group to accompany him, they advanced to the opposite end of the house, there contacting a machine-gun crew of five running toward this house. First Lt. Bloch and his men opened fire on the enemy crew, forcing them to abandon this machine gun and ammunition and flee into the same house. Without a moment's hesitation, 1st Lt. Bloch, unassisted, rushed through the door into a hail of small-arms fire, firing his carbine from the hip, and captured the seven occupants, wounding three of them. First Lt. Bloch with his men then proceeded to a third house where they discovered an abandoned enemy machine gun and detected another enemy machine-gun nest at the next corner of the building. The crew of six spotted 1st Lt. Bloch the instant he saw them. Without a moment's hesitation he dashed toward them. The enemy fired pistols wildly in his direction and vanished through a door of the house, 1st Lt. Bloch following them through the door, firing his carbine from the hip, wounding two of the enemy and capturing six. Altogether 1st Lt. Bloch had singlehandedly captured 19 prisoners, wounding six of them and eliminating a total of five enemy machine-gun nests. His gallant and heroic actions saved his company many casualties and permitted them to continue the attack with new inspiration and vigor.

Medal of Honor Recipient Orville E. Bloch
Medal of Honor Recipient Orville E. Bloch
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Streeter, Stutsman County, North Dakota
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: February 6, 1945

    Firenzuloa, Italy, presented by Lieutenant General Lucian K. Truscott.

  • Born: February 10, 1915, Big Falls, Waupaca County, WI, United States
  • Died: May 28, 1983, Manson, WA, United States
  • Buried: Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park (MH), Seattle, WA, United States

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