b. 20/03/1919 Saugus, Massachusetts. d. 10/06/1944 Vaubadon, France.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 10/06/1944 Vaubadon, France.
DeFranzo joined the Army from his birthplace of Saugus, Massachusetts in November 1940, and by June 10, 1944 was serving as a Staff Sergeant in the 1st Infantry Division. On that day, near Vaubadon, France, he was wounded while rescuing an injured man from hostile fire. Despite his own injuries, he led an attack on the enemy positions and continued to advance and encourage his men even after being hit several more times. He destroyed an enemy machine gun position just before succumbing to his wounds.
For his actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor seven months later, on January 4, 1945. DeFranzo’s body returned to the United States in 1947. He laid in state at the Saugus Town Hall from December 8 to December 11, 1947. He was then given a military funeral at Riverside Cemetery in Saugus.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, on June 10, 1944, near Vaubadon, France. As scouts were advancing across an open field, the enemy suddenly opened fire with several machineguns and hit 1 of the men. S/Sgt. DeFranzo courageously moved out in the open to the aid of the wounded scout and was himself wounded but brought the man to safety. Refusing aid, S/Sgt. DeFranzo reentered the open field and led the advance upon the enemy. There were always at least 2 machineguns bringing unrelenting fire upon him, but S/Sgt. DeFranzo kept going forward, firing into the enemy and 1 by 1 the enemy emplacements became silent. While advancing he was again wounded, but continued on until he was within 100 yards of the enemy position and even as he fell, he kept firing his rifle and waving his men forward. When his company came up behind him, S/Sgt. DeFranzo, despite his many severe wounds, suddenly raised himself and once more moved forward in the lead of his men until he was again hit by enemy fire. In a final gesture of indomitable courage, he threw several grenades at the enemy machinegun position and completely destroyed the gun. In this action, S/Sgt. DeFranzo lost his life, but by bearing the brunt of the enemy fire in leading the attack, he prevented a delay in the assault which would have been of considerable benefit to the foe, and he made possible his company’s advance with a minimum of casualties. The extraordinary heroism and magnificent devotion to duty displayed by S/Sgt. DeFranzo was a great inspiration to all about him, and is in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces.
BURIAL LOCATION: RIVERSIDE CEMETERY, SAUGUS, MASSACHUSETTS.
VETERANS LOT, GRAVE 3
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.