Vito R. Bertoldo
|Vito R. Bertoldo|
December 1, 1916|
|Died||July 23, 1966(aged 49)|
|Place of burial||Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Unit||242nd Infantry Regiment, 42nd Infantry Division|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Vito R. Bertoldo (December 1, 1916 – July 23, 1966) 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.
Bertoldo joined the Army from his birthplace of Decatur, Illinois, and by January 9, 1945 was serving as a Master Sergeant in Company A, 242nd Infantry Regiment, 42nd Infantry Division. On that day, in Hatten, France, he manned a machine gun in defense of a command post being attacked by a numerically superior German force. When evacuation became necessary, he voluntarily stayed behind to cover the withdrawal. The next morning he moved to another command post, and again defended it against a continued assault by strong German forces and voluntarily covered the withdrawal of friendly forces when the post was abandoned. For these actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor one year later, on January 10, 1946. Bertoldo left the Army while still a master sergeant. He died at age 49 and was buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California. He is survived by his son, David Bertoldo a retired Marine Officer who was awarded the Bronze Star as a Machine Gunner when he was an enlisted man in Vietnam. David now resides in Hemet California.
Medal of Honor citation
Master Sergeant Bertoldo's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
He fought with extreme gallantry while guarding 2 command posts against the assault of powerful infantry and armored forces which had overrun the battalion's main line of resistance. On the close approach of enemy soldiers, he left the protection of the building he defended and set up his gun in the street, there to remain for almost 12 hours driving back attacks while in full view of his adversaries and completely exposed to 88-mm., machinegun and small-arms fire. He moved back inside the command post, strapped his machinegun to a table and covered the main approach to the building by firing through a window, remaining steadfast even in the face of 88-mm. fire from tanks only 75 yards away. One shell blasted him across the room, but he returned to his weapon. When 2 enemy armored personnel carriers led by a tank moved toward his position, he calmly waited for the troops to dismount and then, with the tank firing directly at him, leaned out of the window and mowed down the entire group of more than 20 Germans. Some time later, removal of the command post to another building was ordered. M/Sgt. Bertoldo voluntarily remained behind, covering the withdrawal of his comrades and maintaining his stand all night. In the morning he carried his machinegun to an adjacent building used as the command post of another battalion and began a day-long defense of that position. He broke up a heavy attack, launched by a self-propelled 88-mm. gun covered by a tank and about 15 infantrymen. Soon afterward another 88-mm. weapon moved up to within a few feet of his position, and, placing the muzzle of its gun almost inside the building, fired into the room, knocking him down and seriously wounding others. An American bazooka team set the German weapon afire, and M/Sgt. Bertoldo went back to his machinegun dazed as he was and killed several of the hostile troops as they attempted to withdraw. It was decided to evacuate the command post under the cover of darkness, but before the plan could be put into operation the enemy began an intensive assault supported by fire from their tanks and heavy guns. Disregarding the devastating barrage, he remained at his post and hurled white phosphorus grenades into the advancing enemy troops until they broke and retreated. A tank less than 50 yards away fired at his stronghold, destroyed the machinegun and blew him across the room again but he once more returned to the bitter fight and, with a rifle, single-handedly covered the withdrawal of his fellow soldiers when the post was finally abandoned. With inspiring bravery and intrepidity M/Sgt. Bertoldo withstood the attack of vastly superior forces for more than 48 hours without rest or relief, time after time escaping death only by the slightest margin while killing at least 40 hostile soldiers and wounding many more during his grim battle against the enemy hordes.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.