b. 10/02/1915 Big Falls, Wisconsin. d. 28/05/1983 Seattle, Washington.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 10/02/1945 Firenzuola, Italy.
Orville Bloch was the son of German immigrants and grew up in Big Falls, Wisconsin. Bloch joined the Army from Streeter, North Dakota in February 1942, and by September 22, 1944 was serving as a first lieutenant in Company E, 338th Infantry Regiment, 85th Infantry Division. On that day, near Firenzuola, Italy, he led three soldiers in an attack on enemy positions which resulted in the capture of nineteen prisoners and the silencing of five machine gun nests. For these actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by Lieutenant-General Lucian K. Truscott in Firenzuola, Italy on 6 February 1945. Besides the Medal of Honor, he received the Italian Military Cross of Valor, Free Polish Silver Cross, the Bronze Star with Oak Leave Cluster, and other medals.
Bloch later served in the Korean War, and reached the rank of colonel before retiring in 1970 due to an undiagnosed heart condition. He retired to Washington State where he ran an apple orchard. He died at the age of 68 and was buried in Evergreen-Washelli Memorial Park, Seattle, Washington.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Bloch undertook the task of wiping out 5 enemy machinegun nests that had held up the advance in that particular sector for 1 day. Gathering 3 volunteers from his platoon, the patrol snaked their way to a big rock, behind which a group of 3 buildings and 5 machinegun nests were located. Leaving the 3 men behind the rock, he attacked the first machinegun nest alone charging into furious automatic fire, kicking over the machinegun, and capturing the machinegun crew of 5. Pulling the pin from a grenade, he held it ready in his hand and dashed into the face of withering automatic fire toward this second enemy machinegun nest located at the corner of an adjacent building 15 yards distant. When within 20 feet of the machinegun he hurled the grenade, wounding the machinegunner, the other 2 members of the crew fleeing into a door of the house. Calling one of his volunteer group to accompany him, they advanced to the opposite end of the house, there contacting a machinegun crew of 5 running toward this house. 1st Lt Bloch and his men opened fire on the enemy crew, forcing them to abandon this machinegun and ammunition and flee into the same house. Without a moment’s hesitation, 1st Lt. Bloch, unassisted, rushed through the door into a hail of small-arms fire, firing his carbine from the hip, and captured the 7 occupants, wounding 3 of them. 1st Lt. Bloch with his men then proceeded to a third house where they discovered an abandoned enemy machinegun and detected another enemy machinegun nest at the next corner of the building. The crew of 6 spotted 1st Lt. Bloch the instant he saw them. Without a moment’s hesitation he dashed toward them. The enemy fired pistols wildly in his direction and vanished through a door of the house, 1st Lt. Bloch following them through the door, firing his carbine from the hip, wounding 2 of the enemy and capturing 6. Altogether 1st Lt. Bloch had single-handedly captured 19 prisoners, wounding 6 of them and eliminating a total of 5 enemy machinegun nests.
BURIAL LOCATION: EVERGREEN-WASHELLI MEMORIAL PARK, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON.
SECTION W, LOT 0215, GRAVE 1.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.