giovedì 13 dicembre 2007

Il Tenente Robert T. Waugh, 339° Reggimento di Fanteria, Esercito degli Stati Uniti d'America

The Congressional Medal of Honor
The 339th Infantry Regiment in World War II

85th Infantry "Custer" Division, 1942 to 1945

On the evening of 11 May 1944, 2nd Lt. Robert Waugh was at the forefront of the first platoon of G Company. The company objective was to take Hill 79, a heavily fortified stronghold northwest of Tremensuoli, Italy. Promptly at 2300 hours, allied artillery opened up on the fortified hills and obedient to orders, G Company moved out. The company immediately came under heavy machine gun, artillery and mortar fire. Not bothering to seek shelter from this withering fire, Waugh's platoon, followed closely by the 2nd Platoon under Lt. Schade, moved west along Capo di Acqua and to a position where a scout located a trail on the northeast side of the hill. Halting his men, Lt. Waugh reconnoitered the area, located the minefields, returned to his GI's, and led them to the reverse slope. The 2nd Platoon moved into a flanking position while Waugh's GI's moved along the trail. A surprised enemy opened on them with machine guns and mortars, accounting for numerous casualties. His numbers dwindling, Waugh ordered his men to follow him with everything they could carry from the dead and injured. Furious, the young lieutenant sought out the enemy bunkers covering the trail.

Citation: 1st Lieutenant Robert T. Waugh, 339th Infantry, United States Army.
"For conspicuous gallantry and intredity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy from 11 to
14 May 1944 at Tremensuoli, Italy. In the course of an attack upon an enemy-held hill on 11 May, Lieutenant Waugh personally reconnoitered a heavily mined area before entering it with his platoon. Directing his men to deliver fire on six bunkers guarding this hill, Lieutenant Waugh advanced alone against them, reached the first bunker, threw phosphorus grenades into it and, as the enemy defenders emerged, killed them with a burst from his tommy gun. He repeated the process on the five remaining bunkers killing or capturing the occupants. On the morning of 14 May, Lieutenant Waugh ordered his platoon to lay a base of fire on two enemy pill boxes located on a knoll which commanded the only trail up the hill. He then ran to the first pill box, threw several grenades into it, drove the defenders into the open, then killed them. The second pill box was taken by this intrepid officer through similar methods. The fearless actions of Lieutenant Waugh broke the Gustav Line at that point, neutralized six bunkers and two pill boxes, and he was personally responsible for the death of 30 of the enemy and the capture of 25 others. He was later killed in action at Itri, Italy, while leading his platoon in an attack."

(*General Orders No. 79, United States War Department, 4 October 1944)

Waugh's gallantry in the midnight assault on Hill 79 opened the door to the enemy-held hill. His and Schade's platoons of G Company dug in on Hill 79 and weathered numerous enemy counterattacks for the next two days and nights. His intrepid charge on the enemy pillboxes on May 14th was witnessed by artillery observers in a forward outpost and by the company commander. The dramatic and successful defense, under the guidance of Captain Felix Mercado, broke this fortified position in the "Gustav Line". Lt. Waugh's actions contributed greatly to that victory.

Regrettably, he never knew of the recognition he would receive. Less than one week later, under a controversial order, Waugh was sent into an attack while under enemy tank fire and was killed in action. A promotion to 1st lieutenant was followed by the posthumous award of the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 4, 1944.

Lieutenant Waugh is interred in the US National Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy.


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