DISTINGUISHED / PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION: This award cited below, enables members of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 48th to wear the blue ribbon with bold surround to be worn above the right breast pocket.
General Orders DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
No. 48 Washington 25, D.C., 12 July 1948
II. BATTLE HONORS – In the name of the President of the United States as public evidence of deserved honor and distinction. The citation reads as follows:
Combat Command B, 7th Armored Division, composed of the following units
23rd Armored Infantry Battalion (1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment)
38th Armored Infantry Battalion (2nd Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment)
(order lists other units of the CCB)
Is cited for outstanding performance of duty in action from 17 to 23 December 1944, inclusive, at St. Vith, Belgium. Combat Command B, 7th Armored division, was subjected to repeated tank and infantry attacks, which grew in intensity as the German forces attempted to destroy the stubborn defenses that were denying to them the use of the key communication center at St. Vith. By the second cay, the flanks were constantly threatened by enemy forces that had bypassed the St. Vith area and pushed far to the rear in an effort to encircle the command east of the Salm River. The attacking forces were repeatedly thrown back by the gallant troops who rose from their fox holes and fought in fierce hand-to-hand combat to stop the penetrations and inflict heavy losses on the numerically superior foe. As the command continued to deny the important St. Vith highway and railroad center to the Germans, the entire offensive lost its initial impetus and their supply columns became immobilized. By 21 December, the German timetable was so disrupted that the enemy was forced to divert a corps to the capture of St. Vith. Under extreme pressure from overwhelming forces, this command, which for 6 days had held the St. Vith area so gallantly, was ordered to withdraw west of the Salm River. By their epic stand, without prepared defenses and despite heavy casualties, Combat Command B, 7th Armored Division, inflicted crippling losses and imposed great delay upon the enemy by a masterful and grimly determine defense in keeping with he highest tradition of the Army of the United States.
By order of the Secretary of the Army
OMAR N. BRADLEY
Chief of Staff, United States Army
ORDER OF THE DAY, BELGIAN ARMY in decree No. 7253, 13 July 1950, by Charles, Prince of Belgium, Regent of the Kingdom, with the following citation applying to all three battalions of the 48th Infantry:
- During the crucial period of the German offensive of the Ardennes, in 1944, the American 7th Armored Division, attacked by enemy forces estimate at eight divisions, among them 3 SS Panzer and 2 Panzer divisions, held the important center of St. Vith, preventing an advance and any exploitation of the main line, thus dooming the German offensive to frustration and, by its sacrifice, permitting the launching of the Allied counter-offensive.
- During passing over to the attack on 20 January in the St. Vith sector where it had fought previously, the 7th Armored Division pushed the enemy out of the position that it had been organizing for two weeks and pushed it without respite seven kilometers beyond the Belgian frontier, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy. During these nine days it captured more than one thousand prisoners.
FRENCH CROIX DE GUERRE WITH PALM Awarded under Decision No. 274, 22 July 1946, by the President of the Provisional Government of the French Republic, with the following citation:
A magnificent unit, full of dash. After operating at an advanced point of the 7th Armored Division from 14 to 31 August 1944, from Mons to Metz, seizing almost without any destruction, 15 important French cities, the unit then gave bloody battle for 6 days on the Moselle, succeeding, in spite of considerable losses, in establishing a bridgehead at Arnaville, assembly area for the attack with liberated Metz.
FRENCH FOURRAGERE Awarded under Decision No. 275, 22 July 1946, by the President of the Provisional Government of the French Republic, with the following citation:
A magnificent unit animated by the highest military qualities. It was alerted from 15 December 1944 at Rheinburg, Germany, to come and close up the breach made by the enemy in the Belgian Ardennes, and held for almost 3 days the wave of the German armored divisions breaking toward France. Increasing it counter-attacks, it succeeded by itself in checking the enemy offences form 16 to 23 December 1944 , at the cost of enormous sacrifices.
MEDALS OF HONOR
KELLY, THOMAS J.
Rank and organization: Corporal , U.S. Army, Medical Detachment, 48th Armored Infantry Battalion, 7th Armored Division. Place and date: Alemert ,Germany , 5 April 1945 . Entered service at: Brooklyn , N.Y. Birth: Brooklyn , N.Y. G.O. No.: 97, 1 November 1945 . Citation: He was an aid man with the 1st Platoon of Company C during an attack on the town of Alemert , Germany . The platoon, committed in a flanking maneuver, had advanced down a small, open valley overlooked by wooded slopes hiding enemy machineguns and tanks, when the attack was stopped by murderous fire that inflicted heavy casualties in the American ranks. Ordered to withdraw, Cpl. Kelly reached safety with uninjured remnants of the unit, but, on realizing the extent of casualties suffered by the platoon, voluntarily retraced his steps and began evacuating his comrades under direct machinegun fire. He was forced to crawl, dragging the injured behind him for most of the 300 yards separating the exposed area from a place of comparative safety. Two other volunteers who attempted to negotiate the hazardous route with him were mortally wounded, but he kept on with his Herculean task after dressing their wounds and carrying them to friendly hands. In all, he made 10 separate trips through the brutal fire, each time bringing out a man from the death trap. Seven more casualties who were able to crawl by themselves he guided and encouraged in escaping from the hail of fire. After he had completed his heroic, self-imposed task and was near collapse from fatigue, he refused to leave his platoon until the attack had been resumed and the objective taken. Cpl. Kelly's gallantry and intrepidity in the face of seemingly certain death saved the lives of many of his fellow soldiers and was an example of bravery under fire.
DIETZ, ROBERT H. (posthumously awarded)
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant , U.S. Army, Company A, 38th Armored Infantry Battalion, 7th Armored Division. Place and date: Kirchain ,Germany , 29 March 1945 . Entered service at: Kingston , N.Y. Birth: Kingston , N.Y. G.O. No.: 119, 17 December 1945 . Citation: He was a squad leader when the task force to which his unit was attached encountered resistance in its advance on Kirchain , Germany . Between the town's outlying buildings 300 yards distant, and the stalled armored column were a minefield and 2 bridges defended by German rocket-launching teams and riflemen. From the town itself came heavy small-arms fire. Moving forward with his men to protect engineers while they removed the minefield and the demolition charges attached to the bridges, S/Sgt. Dietz came under intense fire. On his own initiative he advanced alone, scorning the bullets which struck all around him, until he was able to kill the bazooka team defending the first bridge. He continued ahead and had killed another bazooka team, bayoneted an enemy soldier armed with a panzerfaust and shot 2 Germans when he was knocked to the ground by another blast of another panzerfaust. He quickly recovered, killed the man who had fired at him and then jumped into waist-deep water under the second bridge to disconnect the demolition charges. His work was completed; but as he stood up to signal that the route was clear, he was killed by another enemy volley from the left flank. S/Sgt. Dietz by his intrepidity and valiant effort on his self-imposed mission, single-handedly opened the road for the capture of Kirchain and left with his comrades an inspiring example of gallantry in the face of formidable odds.