Sergeant Emile Deleau, Jr., USA (February 1-2, 1945)

Emile Deleau, Jr. was born on June 28, 1923 in Lansing, Ohio. He was living in Blaine, Ohio when he was drafted into the United States Army on September 1, 1943. By the winter of 1944-5, he had reached the rank of Sergeant and was a rifle squad leader in Company A, 1st Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division.

On February 1-2, 1945 at Oberhoffen, France, Sergeant Deleau led his squad in house-to-house fighting, clearing the Nazi German opposition from four of them through both his stalwart leadership and indomitable personal courage before he was killed by the enemy. His posthumous award of the Medal of Honor was confirmed later that year.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (A-F):

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Photo: Military Times’ Hall of Valor

*DELEAU, EMILE, JR.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company A, 142d Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. Place and date: Oberhoffen, France, 1-2 February 1945. Entered service at: Blaine, Ohio. G.O. No.: 60, 25 July 1945

Citation: He led a squad in the night attack on Oberhoffen, France, where fierce house-to-house fighting took place. After clearing 1 building of opposition, he moved his men toward a second house from which heavy machinegun fire came. He courageously exposed himself to hostile bullets and, firing his submachine gun as he went, advanced steadily toward the enemy position until close enough to hurl grenades through a window, killing 3 Germans and wrecking their gun. His progress was stopped by heavy rifle and machinegun fire from another house. Sgt. Deleau dashed through the door with his gun blazing. Within, he captured 10 Germans. The squad then took up a position for the night and awaited daylight to resume the attack. At dawn of 2 February Sgt. Deleau pressed forward with his unit, killing 2 snipers as he advanced to a point where machinegun fire from a house barred the way. Despite vicious small-arms fire, Sgt. Deleau ran across an open area to reach the rear of the building, where he destroyed 1 machinegun and killed its 2 operators with a grenade. He worked to the front of the structure and located a second machinegun. Finding it impossible to toss a grenade into the house from his protected position, he fearlessly moved away from the building and was about to hurl his explosive when he was instantly killed by a burst from the gun he sought to knock out. With magnificent courage and daring aggressiveness, Sgt. Deleau cleared 4 well-defended houses of Germans, inflicted severe losses on the enemy and at the sacrifice of his own life aided his battalion to reach its objective with a minimum of casualties.

Deleau was also awarded the Silver Star for gallantry on November 29, 1944. His remains were brought home to Ohio, and he today rests in peace in Blaine’s Linwood Cemetery.

1st Battalion, 142nd Infantry is presently inactive. The 36th Infantry Division is a formation of the Army National Guard and is comprised of units and guardsmen from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas.

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