Second Lieutenant Stephen R. Gregg, USA (August 27, 1944)

Stephen Raymond Gregg was born in the New York City borough of The Bronx on September 1, 1914. He moved as an infant with his family to Bayonne, New Jersey where he grew up. Gregg likely could have avoided being drafted due to his employment as a shipyard welder in Kearny, New Jersey. He was inducted into the United States Army on February 9, 1942 in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entry into World War II.

At age 29, he was one of the oldest enlisted members of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division when they landed in Italy at Salerno in September 1943. Among his Company L comrades was Charles E. “Commando” Kelly, who received the Medal of Honor for his gallantry on September 13-14, 1943.

Stephen Gregg learned from Kelly how to be a one man army.

Not quite one year later on August 27, 1944 in action in southern France, now Technical Sergeant Gregg – leading a rifle platoon in absence of any officers – demonstrated again the ability of a single American warrior armed mainly with his own courage and fighting spirit to change the course of a battle.

Gregg later asked his battalion commander for a new lieutenant to fill the platoon leader’s position. The response of 3-143’s commander Lieutenant Colonel Theodore H. Andrews? “Pin a bar on yourself, Gregg.”

Stephen Gregg’s battlefield commission as a Second Lieutenant came before his own receipt of the Medal of Honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (G-L):

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Photo: Military Times’ Hall of Valor

GREGG, STEPHEN R.

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 143d Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Montelimar, France, 27 August 1944. Entered service at: Bayonne, N.J. G.O. No.: 31, 17 April 1945

Citation: 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 Tech. Sgt.) immediately put his machineguns 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 7. Each time a medical aid man attempted to reach the wounded, the Germans fired at him. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, 2d Lt. Gregg took 1 of the light .30-caliber machineguns, and firing from the hip, started boldly up the hill with the medical aid man following him. Although the enemy was throwing hand grenades at him, 2d Lt. Gregg remained and fired into the enemy positions while the medical aid man removed the 7 wounded men to safety. When 2d Lt. Gregg had expended all his ammunition, he was covered by 4 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 4 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 machinegun positions. He manned a gun, firing at his captors, killed 1 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, 1 of his men informed him that the section had been captured and the Germans were using the mortars to fire on the company. 2d Lt. Gregg with this man and another nearby rifleman started for the gun position where he could see 5 Germans firing his mortars. He ordered the 2 men to cover him, crawled up, threw a hand grenade into the position, and then charged it. The hand grenade killed 1, injured 2, 2d Lt. Gregg took the other 2 prisoners, and put his mortars back into action.

Gregg survived the war. He also was a recipient of our nation’s third-highest decoration for valor: the Silver Star. After leaving the Army, he returned to New Jersey and remained in public service, spending the next fifty-one years working for the Hudson County Sheriff’s Department.

Here he is, in his own words:

Stephen Gregg passed away at age 90 on February 4, 2005 and was laid to rest in the Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington, New Jersey.

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