George Joseph Peters MOH

b. 19/03/1924 Cranston, Rhode Island. d. 24/03/1945 Kreis Wesel, Germany.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 24/03/1945 Kreis Wesel, Germany.

George J Peters MOH

George was one of seven children born to Portuguese immigrants in Cranston, Rhode Island on March 19, 1923. He had three sisters and three brothers. George was a kind, unassuming young man who lovingly teased his mother and looked after his younger sisters. He was the only one of the children who enjoyed helping his father tend the family’s backyard garden. At the time he was believed to be in love with a neighborhood girl. George did not attend high school but went to work at the Cranston Print Works when he finished classes at Hugh B. Bain School in Cranston. Going to and from work he often witnessed tearful goodbyes in front of the local police station as groups of young draftees departed for military service.

Peters was drafted in 1943 and, after having seen many a tearful goodbye in Cranston, decided to go to the Providence train station for his trip to begin his military service. During his basic training George volunteered to be a paratrooper. When he returned to Cranston after completing his airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia, his family was surprised to see he was wearing his paratrooper jump boots as part of his uniform. According to his sister Isabelle, “George hated heights and was nervous on a roller coaster.” The young paratrooper assured his family that his additional monthly $10.00 jump pay provided him with more money to send home to them.

Peters shipped out for duty in Europe as a member of the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 17th Airborne Division. Plans for an Allied airborne assault (Operation Varsity) into Germany had been in the works since the end of the Battle of the Bulge in January of 1945. The airborne drops would be combined with the simultaneous crossing of the Rhine River by the Allied forces to gain a foothold for the final push to Berlin. On the morning of March 24, 1945, approximately 10,000 American and British soldiers headed to Germany. It would be the last major airborne operation of World War II and the first for the 17th Airborne whose divisional motto was “Down to Earth.”

The 507th troopers were dropped near Fluren, a suburb of Wesel, Germany. No sooner had Private Peters, a radio operator in one of the platoons of Company G and ten other paratroopers hit the ground in a clearing bounded by a nearby wood line than they were taken under heavy German machine gun fire from the woods. Unable to get to their separately dropped weapons and equipment, the paratroopers were pinned down, unable to maneuver and return effective fire. Suddenly, without being ordered to do so, Private Peters sprang to his feet with his rifle and hand grenades to attack the German positions. About halfway to his objective Peters was felled by a burst of fire. Moments later he got back on his feet to continue his assault. He was struck a second time by a burst of fire, but before he died, he managed to pull the pin on a hand grenade and throw it into the German machine gun nest silencing it and killing two enemy soldiers. The remaining defenders retreated into the woods while Peters’ fellow paratroopers collected their weapons and assumed the initiative.

Private George J. Peters’ posthumous Medal of Honor was presented on February 8, 1946, with the Medal’s citation signed by President Truman. His father received the Medal on March 24, 1946 from Lieutenant General Oscar W. Griswold at the Rhode Island Governor’s Office in Providence, Rhode Island. At the time of his death, Peters was 22 years and 5 days of age. He is buried at the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Cemetery at Margraten in the Netherlands. Until the end of the war Private Peters’ grave was attended to by a Dutch family named Peters.



Pvt. Peters, a platoon radio operator with Company G, made a descent into Germany near Fluren, east of the Rhine. With 10 others, he landed in a field about 75 yards from a German machine gun supported by riflemen and was immediately pinned down by heavy, direct fire. The position of the small unit seemed hopeless, with the men struggling to free themselves of their parachutes in a hail of bullets that cut them off from their nearby equipment bundles, when Pvt. Peters stood up without orders and began a one-man charge against the hostile emplacement armed only with a rifle and grenades. His singlehanded assault immediately drew the enemy fire away from his comrades. He had run halfway to his objective, pitting rifle fire against that of the machine gun, when he was struck and knocked to the ground by a burst. Heroically, he regained his feet and struggled onward. Once more he was torn by bullets, and this time he was unable to rise. With gallant devotion to his self-imposed mission, he crawled directly into the fire that had mortally wounded him until close enough to hurl grenades which knocked out the machine gun, killed two of its operators, and drove protecting riflemen from their positions into the safety of a woods. By his intrepidity and supreme sacrifice, Pvt. Peters saved the lives of many of his fellow soldiers and made it possible for them to reach their equipment, organize, and seize their first objective.