Patrick Lester Kessler MOH

b. 17/03/1922 Middletown, Ohio. d. 25/05/1944 near Ponte Rotto, Italy.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 23/05/1944 near Ponte Rotto, Italy.

Patrick L Kessler MOH

Kessler joined the Army from his birthplace of Middletown, Ohio in September 1942, and by May 23, 1944, was serving as a private first class in Company K, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. On that day, near Ponte Rotto, Italy, he single-handedly charged two German positions, a machine gun nest and a strongpoint, and captured sixteen German soldiers, including two snipers. Kessler was killed in action two days later and, on January 4, 1945, posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions near Ponte Rotto.



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Kessler, acting without orders, raced 50 yards through a hail of machine-gun fire, which had killed five of his comrades and halted the advance of his company, in order to form an assault group to destroy the machine gun. Ordering three men to act as a base of fire, he left the cover of a ditch and snaked his way to a point within 50 yards of the enemy machine gun before he was discovered, whereupon he plunged headlong into the furious chain of automatic fire. Reaching a spot within six feet of the emplacement he stood over it and killed both the gunner and his assistant, jumped into the gun position, overpowered and captured a third German after a short struggle. The remaining member of the crew escaped, but Pfc. Kessler wounded him as he ran. While taking his prisoner to the rear, this soldier saw two of his comrades killed as they assaulted an enemy strongpoint, fire from which had already killed 10 men in the company. Turning his prisoner over to another man, Pfc. Kessler crawled 35 yards to the side of one of the casualties, relieved him of his BAR and ammunition, and continued on toward the strongpoint, 125 yards distant. Although two machine guns concentrated their fire directly on him and shells exploded within 10 yards, bowling him over, Pfc. Kessler crawled 75 yards, passing through an antipersonnel minefield to a point within 50 yards of the enemy and engaged the machine guns in a duel. When an artillery shell burst within a few feet of him, he left the cover of the ditch and advanced upon the position in a slow walk, firing his BAR from the hip. Although the enemy poured heavy machine-gun and small-arms fire at him, Pfc. Kessler succeeded in reaching the edge of their position, killed the gunners, and captured 13 Germans. Then, despite continuous shelling, he started to the rear. After going 25 yards, Pfc. Kessler was fired upon by two snipers only 100 yards away. Several of his prisoners took advantage of this opportunity and attempted to escape; however, Pfc. Kessler hit the ground, fired on either flank of his prisoners, forcing them to cover, and then engaged the two snipers in a firefight and captured them. With this last threat removed, Company K continued its advance, capturing its objective without further opposition. Pfc. Kessler was killed in a subsequent action.