b. 01/09/1914 New York. d. 04/02/2005 Bayonne, New Jersey.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 27/08/1944 near Montelimar, France.
Gregg, a native of the Bronx, grew up in Bayonne and was drafted in 1942 after working as a shipyard welder. Before participating in Operation Anvil, the invasion of southern France, he took part in the Italian campaign and fought at Altavilla and the Rapido River alongside one of America’s most celebrated combat heroes, Sgt. Charles E. Kelly, the Medal of Honor winner known as Commando Kelly.
On Aug. 27, 1944, serving in the 143rd Infantry, 36th Infantry Division, during the invasion of southern France, Sergeant Gregg was in combat at the town of Montelimar in the Rhone Valley. As his platoon advanced toward a German position on a hill, an onslaught of hand grenades felled seven G.I.’s, and heavy enemy fire prevented medics from reaching them.
“We were close by, and you could hear the men that were hit calling for medics,” he told The New York Times in 2000. “I said, ‘God! I’ve got to do something here.’ I don’t know what got into me, but I picked up this gun.
“I kept firing and firing. I was just thinking, ‘I’ve got to get as many as I can before they get me.’ I never thought I’d come out of this thing alive, to be frank with you. The Lord was with me.”
Sergeant Gregg had picked up a machine gun, and with a medic following him, he headed up the hill toward the Germans, firing from the hip in the face of a hand-grenade barrage. His covering fire enabled the medic to remove the wounded, according to the Medal of Honor citation. After he used up his ammunition, he was confronted by four German soldiers, who ordered him to surrender. Platoon members opened fire on the Germans, and as they hit the ground, Sergeant Gregg escaped to an American machine-gun position. He fired away once more, routing the Germans and enabling the Americans to take the hill. The next day, when the Germans counterattacked with tanks, Sergeant Gregg directed a mortar barrage, and then he charged a mortar position the Germans had overrun, capturing it by hurling a hand grenade.
He continued in combat, received a commission as a second lieutenant and was presented with the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, by Lt. Gen. Alexander M. Patch, commander of the Seventh Army, on March 14, 1945. Mr. Gregg also received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. When he returned to Bayonne in May 1945, 50,000 people watched him ride in a procession to a hero’s welcome at a city stadium. He worked for 51 years for the Hudson County Sheriff’s Department, retiring as chief of court officers. A county park in Bayonne is named for him.
His wife, Irene, predeceased him in 2001. He and Irene had a son and a daughter who survived him when he passed away at his home in Bayonne, New Jersey on February 4, 2005, aged 90.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 27 August 1944, in the vicinity of Montelimar, France. As his platoon advanced upon the enemy positions, the leading scout was fired upon and 2d Lt. Gregg (then a TSgt.) immediately put his machine guns into action to cover the advance of the riflemen. The Germans, who were at close range, threw hand grenades at the riflemen, killing some and wounding seven. Each time a medical aidman attempted to reach the wounded, the Germans fired at him. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, 2d Lt. Gregg took one of the light .30-caliber machine guns and, firing from the hip, started boldly up the hill with the medical aidman following him. Although the enemy was throwing hand grenades at him, 2d Lt. Gregg remained and fired into the enemy positions while the medical aidman removed the seven wounded men to safety. When 2d Lt. Gregg had expended all his ammunition, he was covered by four Germans who ordered him to surrender. Since the attention of most of the Germans had been diverted by watching this action, friendly riflemen were able to maneuver into firing positions. One, seeing 2d Lt. Gregg’s situation, opened fire on his captors. The four Germans hit the ground and thereupon 2d Lt. Gregg recovered a machine pistol from one of the Germans and managed to escape to his other machine-gun positions. He manned a gun, firing at his captors, killed one of them and wounded the other. This action so discouraged the Germans that the platoon was able to continue its advance up the hill to achieve its objective. The following morning, just prior to daybreak, the Germans launched a strong attack, supported by tanks, in an attempt to drive Company L from the hill. As these tanks moved along the valley and their foot troops advanced up the hill, 2d Lt. Gregg immediately ordered his mortars into action. During the day, by careful observation, he was able to direct effective fire on the enemy, inflicting heavy casualties. By late afternoon he had directed 600 rounds when his communication to the mortars was knocked out. Without hesitation he started checking his wires, although the area was under heavy enemy small-arms and artillery fire. When he was within 100 yards of his mortar position, one of his men informed him that the section had been captured and the Germans were using the mortars to fire on the company. Second Lt. Gregg with this man and another nearby rifleman started for the gun position where he could see five Germans firing his mortars. He ordered the two men to cover him, crawled up, threw a hand grenade into the position, and then charged it. The hand grenade killed one, injured two; 2d Lt. Gregg took the other two prisoners, and put his mortars back into action.
BURIAL LOCATION: HOLY CROSS CEMETERY AND MAUSOLEUM, NORTH ARLINGTON, NEW JERSEY.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.