Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army

Truman O. Olson

Details
  • Rank: Sergeant
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    Company B, 7th Infantry,
    3d Infantry Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: January 30 - 31, 1944
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: near Cisterna di Littoria, Italy
Citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Olson, a light machinegunner, elected to sacrifice his life to save his company from annihilation. On the night of 30 January 1944, after a 16-hour assault on entrenched enemy positions in the course of which over one-third of Company B became casualties, the survivors dug in behind a horseshoe elevation, placing Sgt. Olson and his crew, with the one available machine gun, forward of their lines and in an exposed position to bear the brunt of the expected German counterattack. Although he had been fighting without respite, Sgt. Olson stuck grimly to his post all night while his guncrew was cut down, one by one, by accurate and overwhelming enemy fire. Weary from over 24 hours of continuous battle and suffering from an arm wound, received during the night engagement, Sgt. Olson manned his gun alone, meeting the full force of an all-out enemy assault by approximately 200 men supported by mortar and machine-gun fire which the Germans launched at daybreak on the morning of 31 January. After 30 minutes of fighting, Sgt. Olson was mortally wounded, yet, knowing that only his weapons stood between his company and complete destruction, he refused evacuation. For an hour and a half after receiving his second and fatal wound he continued to fire his machine gun, killing as least 20 of the enemy, wounding many more, and forcing the assaulting German elements to withdraw.
Medal of Honor Recipient Truman O. Olson
Medal of Honor Recipient Truman O. Olson
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Cambridge, Dane County, Wisconsin
  • Awarded Posthumously: Yes
  • Born: October 13, 1917, Christiana, Dane County, WI, United States
  • Died: January 31, 1944, Italy
  • Buried: West Koshkonong Lutheran Cemetery (MH), Stoughton, WI, United States
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