b. 16/01/1884 Haverstraw, New York. d. 12/04/1970 Montrose, New York.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 14/10/1918 Sommerance-Landres-et St Georges Road, France.
Sgt. Michael Donaldson of the 42nd Division’s 165th Infantry Regiment is one of 25 Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients from New York State from the First World War. Sgt. Donaldson was from Haverstraw, NY and was a member of St. Peter’s Parish there where he was an altar boy under Fr. Francis Duffy. Donaldson was a boxing instructor before enlisting in the 69th NY Regiment in Jul7 1917 at the age of 30. Donaldson was reunited with his former parish priest, Fr. Duffy, and spoke highly of him after the war, describing him as “he breathed the fire of life into the soul of the Sixty-ninth.” Donaldson recounts his experiences with the Fighting 69th in the book Echoes from Over There.
Sgt. Donaldson was cited for the Congressional Medal of Honor on March 10, 1923. He was one of five members of the 69th regiment who received this honor. According to the New York Times, Donaldson was cited for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy at Sommerance-Landres-et-St. Georges Road, France, Oct. 14, 1918.” During this battle he returned to the line of fire multiple times to save six of his fallen comrades. The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award for bravery and courage offered to individuals in the Armed Forces. The President of the United States awards the Medal of Honor to each recipient. He was presented with his Medal on 6 April 1923 at Fort Jay, Governor’s Island, New York by Major General Robert Lee Bullard.
In addition to receiving the Medal of Honor, Sgt. Donaldson was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Croix de Guerre with palm, and the Medaille Militaire. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1919.
The advance of his regiment having been checked by intense machinegun fire of the enemy, who were entrenched on the crest of a hill before Landres-et St. Georges, his company retired to a sunken road to reorganize their position, leaving several of their number wounded near the enemy lines. Of his own volition, in broad daylight and under direct observation of the enemy and with utter disregard for his own safety, he advanced to the crest of the hill, rescued one of his wounded comrades, and returned under withering fire to his own lines, repeating his splendidly heroic act until he had brought in all the men, 6 in number.
BURIAL LOCATION: SAINT PETERS CEMETERY, HAVERSTRAW, NEW YORK.
SECTION 3, PLOT 35, GRAVE 46
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.