On this date in 1943, Japanese troops on Guadalcanal’s Mount Austen knock out a machine gun section of 25th Infantry Division soldiers that were protecting their battalion. Sgt. William J. Fournier and Technician 5th Grade Louis Hall disregard orders to withdraw and man a still-operable machine gun, pouring fire into the enemy and inflicting heavy casualties until both soldiers are killed. Fournier and Hall are posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
On this day in 1968, Specialist Clarence E. Sasser and his company are ambushed on three sides by enemy fire as helicopters drop them off for a reconnaissance mission in the Mekong Delta. Within moments, Sasser’s company has taken 30 casualties and the medic must race through the killzone multiple times to treat his wounded soldiers. He is hit multiple times himself, and refuses medical attention despite the fact that his legs are immobilized and he has to drag himself to treat the wounded during the five-hour engagement. President Richard Nixon will award Sasser the Medal of Honor in 1969.
And today in 1945, Master Sgt. Vito R. Bertoldo engages in an incredible two-day-long, one-man battle against German infantry and armor while defending a command post in Hatten, France. As German armor and infantry pound his position, Bertoldo moves his machine gun from place to place, holding off the attack despite tanks pouring fire into his position from less than 100 yards away. Armored personnel carriers attempt to knock him out, but he waits for them to dismount and then cuts down the entire group. When orders come down to abandon the post, Bertoldo remains behind to cover the withdrawal. After holding off the Germans all night, he moves to another position and defeats additional assaults, including near point-blank rounds fired by enemy tanks. Incredibly, he withstands numerous tank shells impacting his location and holds off assault after assault until the next evening. When his machine gun is finally blown up, Bertoldo uses a rifle and white phosphorous grenades to foil one last German attack. Incredibly, he survives his grim battle against insurmountable odds and is awarded the Medal of Honor the following year.