George John Hall was born in Stoneham, Massachusetts on January 9, 1921. He was a member of the Massachusetts National Guard activated and federalized for World War II service with the United States Army. By May 1944, Hall was a Staff Sergeant with the 34th Infantry Division‘s 135th Infantry Regiment.
On May 23, 1944 as the breakout from the Anzio beachhead began, Hall volunteered to clear the ground ahead of his company of three enemy machine gun positions. What followed was clearly worthy of the Medal of Honor he later received.
HALL, GEORGE J.
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, 135th Infantry, 34th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Anzio, Italy, 23 May 1944. Entered service at: Boston, Mass. G.O. No.: 24, 6 April 1945
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Attacking across flat, open terrain under direct enemy observation, S/Sgt. Hall’s company was pinned down by grazing fire from 3 enemy machineguns and harassing sniper fire. S/Sgt. Hall volunteered to eliminate these obstacles in the path of advance. Crawling along a plowed furrow through furious machine gun fire, he made his way to a point within hand grenade range of 1 of the enemy positions. He pounded the enemy with 4 hand grenades, and when the smoke had died away, S/Sgt. Hall and 2 dead Germans occupied the position, while 4 of the enemy were crawling back to our lines as prisoners. Discovering a quantity of German potato-masher grenades in the position, S/Sgt. Hall engaged the second enemy nest in a deadly exchange of grenades. Each time he exposed himself to throw a grenade the Germans fired machine gun bursts at him. The vicious duel finally ended in S/Sgt. Hall’s favor with 5 of the enemy surrendered and 5 others lay dead. Turning his attention to the third machine gun, S/Sgt. Hall left his position and crawled along a furrow, the enemy firing frantically in an effort to halt him. As he neared his final objective, an enemy artillery concentration fell on the area, and S/Sgt. Hall’s right leg was severed by a shellburst. With 2 enemy machineguns eliminated, his company was able to flank the third and continue its advance without incurring excessive casualties. S/Sgt. Hall’s fearlessness, his determined fighting spirit, and his prodigious combat skill exemplify the heroic tradition of the American Infantryman.
In actuality, the shell blast didn’t sever Hall’s leg completely. However, in order to save his own life from the grievous wound he suffered, he self-amputated what was left of his leg so he could apply a tourniquet. He survived to be evacuated for care, and was returned to the United States.
Sadly, Hall passed away due to lingering complications from his war injuries on February 16, 1946 at age 25. He was laid to rest in the Saint Patrick Cemetery in his hometown of Stoneham.
The 34th Infantry Division is still a formation of the National Guard. The division is made up of guardsmen from Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wisconsin.