Leonard A. Funk Jr.

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Leonard Alfred Funk Jr.
Born (1916-08-27)August 27, 1916
Braddock Township, Pennsylvania, United States
Died November 20, 1992(1992-11-20) (aged 76)
Buried Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1941–1945
Rank First Sergeant
Unit 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star
Bronze Star
Purple Heart (3)
Combat Infantryman Badge
Croix de guerre w/ palm (Belgium)

First Sergeant Leonard Alfred Funk Jr. (August 27, 1916 – November 20, 1992) was a United States Army Medal of Honor recipient and one of the most decorated soldiers and paratroopers of World War II. While serving with the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment (508th PIR), then part of the 82nd Airborne Division, he also received the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts.

Biography[edit]

Funk was born on August 27, 1916, in Braddock Township, Pennsylvania.

World War II[edit]

Funk joined the United States Army from Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania in June 1941.[1] The following year, after the United States entered World War II, he volunteered for the paratroopers, part of the U.S. Army's newly created airborne forces. After completing his training and earning his jump wings, he was assigned to Company 'C' of the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment (508th PIR), then stationed in Camp Blanding, Florida. He was to serve with the 508th throughout the war and went with the regiment to England in late 1943, where they became part of the veteran 82nd Airborne Division. He jumped into Normandy with the 508th on D-Day, June 6, 1944, later taking part in Operation Market Garden in September, and later in the Battle of the Bulge in December.

On January 29, 1945, he was serving as the first sergeant of his company in Holzheim (de), Belgium when he encountered a group of more than 80 German soldiers, most of whom had previously been captured by American forces but, with the help of a German patrol, had managed to overwhelm their guards. Despite being greatly outnumbered, Funk opened fire and called for the captured American guards to seize the Germans' weapons. He and the guards successfully killed or re-captured all of the German soldiers. For these actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor on September 5, 1945.

Funk was honorably discharged from the army in June 1945.[2]

Post-war[edit]

Funk worked for the Veteran's Administration after the war and retired in 1972.[3] He died at age 76 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia.

Awards and Decorations[edit]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Arrowhead
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Combat Infantryman Badge
Parachutist Badge
w/ 2 combat jump devices
Medal of Honor Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star Bronze Star Purple Heart
w/ 2 bronze oak leaf clusters
Army Good Conduct Medal American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
w/ Arrowhead device and 4 bronze campaign stars
World War II Victory Medal Croix de guerre 1940–1945 with Palm (Belgium)
Army Presidential Unit Citation

Medal of Honor[edit]

First Sergeant Funk's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

Medal of Honor

He distinguished himself by gallant, intrepid actions against the enemy. After advancing 15 miles in a driving snowstorm, the American force prepared to attack through waist-deep drifts. The company executive officer became a casualty, and 1st Sgt. Funk immediately assumed his duties, forming headquarters soldiers into a combat unit for an assault in the face of direct artillery shelling and harassing fire from the right flank. Under his skillful and courageous leadership, this miscellaneous group and the 3d Platoon attacked 15 houses, cleared them, and took 30 prisoners without suffering a casualty. The fierce drive of Company C quickly overran Holzheim, netting some 80 prisoners, who were placed under a 4-man guard, all that could be spared, while the rest of the understrength unit went about mopping up isolated points of resistance. An enemy patrol, by means of a ruse, succeeded in capturing the guards and freeing the prisoners, and had begun preparations to attack Company C from the rear when 1st Sgt. Funk walked around the building and into their midst. He was ordered to surrender by a German officer who pushed a machine pistol into his stomach. Although overwhelmingly outnumbered and facing almost certain death, 1st Sgt. Funk, pretending to comply with the order, began slowly to unsling his submachine gun from his shoulder and then, with lightning motion, brought the muzzle into line and riddled the German officer. He turned upon the other Germans, firing and shouting to the other Americans to seize the enemy's weapons. In the ensuing fight 21 Germans were killed, many wounded, and the remainder captured. 1st Sgt. Funk's bold action and heroic disregard for his own safety were directly responsible for the recapture of a vastly superior enemy force, which, if allowed to remain free, could have taken the widespread units of Company C by surprise and endangered the entire attack plan.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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