Joseph E. Schaefer’s Medal of Honor citation

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to




for service as set forth in the following


for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company I, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. Staff Sergeant Schaefer was in charge of a squad of the 2d Platoon in the vicinity of Stolberg, Germany, early in the morning of 24 September 1944, when two enemy companies supported by machineguns launched an attack to seize control of an important crossroads which was defended by his platoon. One American squad was forced back, another captured, leaving only Staff Sergeant Schaefer’s men to defend the position. To shift his squad into a house which would afford better protection, he crawled about under heavy small-arms and machinegun fire, instructed each individual, and moved to the building. A heavy concentration of enemy artillery fire scored hits on his strong point. Staff Sergeant Schaefer assigned his men to positions and selected for himself the most dangerous one at the door. With his M-1 rifle, he broke the first wave of infantry thrown toward the house. The Germans attacked again with grenades and flame throwers but were thrown back a second time, Staff Sergeant Schaefer killing and wounding several. Regrouped for a final assault, the Germans approached from two directions. One force drove at the house from the front, while a second group advanced stealthily along a hedgerow. Recognizing the threat, Staff Sergeant Schaefer fired rapidly at the enemy before him, killing or wounding all six; then, with no cover whatever, dashed to the hedgerow and poured deadly accurate shots into the second group, killing five, wounding two others, and forcing the enemy to withdraw. He scoured the area near his battered stronghold and captured ten prisoners. By this time the rest of his company had begun a counterattack; he moved forward to assist another platoon to regain its position. Remaining in the lead, crawling and running in the face of heavy fire, he overtook the enemy, and liberated the American squad captured earlier in the battle. In all, single-handed and armed only with his rifle, he killed between 15 and 20 Germans, wounded at least as many more, and took ten prisoners. Staff Sergeant Schaefer’s indomitable courage and his determination to hold his position at all costs were responsible for stopping an enemy break-through.

Born: Dec. 27, 1918 in New York, N.Y…. Home of Record: Long Island, N.Y…. Decorated by Maj. Gen. Clift Andrus in Neustadt, Germany on July 18, 1945… Departed: March 16, 1987… Interred: Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, N.Y.

Author: Real American Heroes

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