Private Robert T. Henry, USA (December 3, 1944)

Robert T. Henry was born in Greenville, Mississippi on November 27, 1923. He was still living there and had completed two years of college when he was drafted at age 19 into the United States Army to serve his nation during World War II on April 23, 1943.

Henry was assigned as a rifleman with Company B, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment – part of “The Big Red One”: the 1st Infantry Division. We don’t know when he joined the division, but on December 3, 1944 in action at Luchem, Germany, he volunteered and launched a desperate solo attack against a Nazi strongpoint.

He was cut down during his assault, but the young private’s indomitable courage panicked the enemy, caused them to flee, allowed his platoon to reach their objective, and ultimately was recognized with our nation’s highest honor.

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

Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon (background)
Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon (background)
Photo: Military Times’ Hall of Valor


Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Luchem, Germany, 3 December 1944. Entered service at: Greenville, Miss. G.O. No.: 45, 12 June 1945

Citation: Near Luchem, Germany, he volunteered to attempt the destruction of a nest of 5 enemy machineguns located in a bunker 150 yards to the flank which had stopped the advance of his platoon. Stripping off his pack, overshoes, helmet, and overcoat, he sprinted alone with his rifle and hand grenades across the open terrain toward the enemy emplacement. Before he had gone half the distance he was hit by a burst of machinegun fire. Dropping his rifle, he continued to stagger forward until he fell mortally wounded only 10 yards from the enemy emplacement. His single-handed attack forced the enemy to leave the machineguns. During this break in hostile fire the platoon moved forward and overran the position. Pvt. Henry, by his gallantry and intrepidity and utter disregard for his own life, enabled his company to reach its objective, capturing this key defense and 70 German prisoners.

Private Henry’s remains were repatriated to the United States and laid to their rest in the Greenville Cemetery of his hometown.

1st Battalion, 16th Infantry – the “Iron Rangers” – is presently a combined arms battalion with the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas.


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