Herbert F. Christian

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Herbert F. Christian
Born (1912-06-18)June 18, 1912
Byesville, Ohio
Died June 3, 1944(1944-06-03) (aged 31)
near Valmontone, Italy
Place of burial Greenwood Cemetery, Byesville, Ohio
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1942 - 1944
Rank Private
Unit 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal of Honor

Herbert F. Christian (June 18, 1912 – June 3, 1944) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.

Biography[edit]

A retail manager before the war, Christian joined the Army from Steubenville, Ohio in November 1942,[1] and by June 3, 1944 he was serving as a private in the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. In the early morning hours of that day, near Valmontone, Italy, his patrol was ambushed by a numerically superior enemy force. Although grievously wounded—his right leg had been severed by hostile fire—he gestured to his comrades to withdraw and advanced on the enemy positions alone, firing as he went. Although mortally wounded in the attack, he successfully created a diversion which allowed his fellow soldiers to escape. For these actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor a year later, on May 30, 1945.

Christian, aged 31 at his death, was buried at Greenwood Cemetery in his birthplace of Byesville, Ohio.

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Private Christian's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. On 2–3 June 1944, at 1 a.m., Pvt. Christian elected to sacrifice his life in order that his comrades might extricate themselves from an ambush. Braving massed fire of about 60 riflemen, 3 machineguns, and 3 tanks from positions only 30 yards distant, he stood erect and signaled to the patrol to withdraw. The whole area was brightly illuminated by enemy flares. Although his right leg was severed above the knee by cannon fire, Pvt. Christian advanced on his left knee and the bloody stump of his right thigh, firing his submachinegun. Despite excruciating pain, Pvt. Christian continued on his self-assigned mission. He succeeded in distracting the enemy and enabled his 12 comrades to escape. He killed 3 enemy soldiers almost at once. Leaving a trail of blood behind him, he made his way forward 20 yards, halted at a point within 10 yards of the enemy, and despite intense fire killed a machine-pistol man. Reloading his weapon, he fired directly into the enemy position. The enemy appeared enraged at the success of his ruse, concentrated 20-mm. machinegun, machine-pistol and rifle fire on him, yet he refused to seek cover. Maintaining his erect position, Pvt. Christian fired his weapon to the very last. Just as he emptied his submachinegun, the enemy bullets found their mark and Pvt. Christian slumped forward dead. The courage and spirit of self-sacrifice displayed by this soldier were an inspiration to his comrades and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces.

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References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.