Too severely wounded to receive his medal...


2015-06-26 11:36:37


Too severely wounded to receive his medal...

Hero accepts award 64 years later, awarded to his 'magnificent' infantry unit

In early May, 1944, United States Army Private First Class Leo St. Onge, a machine gunner, stormed a key observation point in western Italy.

Despite carrying 120 pounds of equipment, he saved a fellow infantrymen's life.

St. Onge then proceeded to fire upon six German pillboxes manned by members of the Panzer Corps.

He lost his gun in the crossfire, yet he grabbed an injured comrade's rifle and continued fighting.

Now, aged 88, Leo St. Onge will finally be awarded the French Croix de Guerre for his bravery in World War II.

The Croix de Guerre with Palm was given to the 339th Infantry Regiment in June 1945 - but St. Onge wasn't there to accept it.

He had been severely wounded during Operation Diadem, the Allies' push against the German Gustav Line near Cassino, Italy.

The medal was awarded to both Frenchmen and foreign soldiers fighting alongside France.

According to the citation, the 339th infantry was a "magnificent unit, inspired by a wonderful spirit in combat."

The citation reads: "In spite of heavy losses," the infantry unit, "contributed immeasurably to the brilliant series of successes which will remain the common heritage of the American and French armies."

"I can't remember and I don't want to remember. I did what I had to do," said St. Onge, surrounded by other veterans in a ceremony at the selectmen's meeting on Monday.

He was also awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, European-Africa-Middle East Medal, American Campaign Medal and Victory Medal.

St. Onge said he wanted to "be there" for other veterans, including those who fought in Vietnam.

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