Valor Friday

| February 22, 2019

army moh

sgt squires aw1

Today we honor Pfc. John Charles Squires, USA, and his incredible valor displayed near Padiglione, Italy during WWII.

Squires joined the Army from his birth city of Louisville, Kentucky in July 1943, and by April 23, 1944 was serving as a private first class in Company A, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. During a battle on that day, near Padiglione, Italy, he repeatedly braved enemy fire to carry messages, bring up reinforcements, and fight the Germans throughout the night and into the next morning. Sadly, he did nor survive the war. Here’s his amazing story, sent to me by one who wishes to remain anonymous.

If anyone were to doubt the initiative and valor of the American fighting man during World War II, he would be well advised to read Pfc. John Charles Squires’ Medal of Honor citation. It is a vivid and stirring account of a young soldier who was new to the Army, new to his unit, and new to combat, but whose gallantry, judgment, initiative and fighting ability were of the kind that wins battles and wins wars.

On 23 May 1944, a month after the remarkable display of courage and valor that resulted in his Medal of Honor, just four days after his 19th birthday, newly promoted Sergeant John Squires was killed in action. His Dad, Leroy, a World War I Veteran, and Mom, Mary, accepted John’s medal in a brief ceremony that was held at Fort Knox in their home state of Kentucky on 7 October 1944. The newspaper account did not mention whether John’s two brothers, Leroy, Jr. and Steven, were on hand. They, too, were in the fight, both serving in Italy at the time their little brother was killed there.

Sgt. John C. Squires rests in Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.

Postscript: On 1 June 1944, 2d Lt. Randolph Bracey, Squires’ platoon leader, the man who witnessed and reported Pfc. Squires’ valor, was himself killed in action in Italy. Randolph Bracey, a Californian, was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

War Department, General Orders No. 78, October 2, 1944

CITATION:

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Sergeant John C. Squires, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company A, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division. At the start of his company’s attack on strongly held enemy positions in and around Spaccasassi Creek, near Padiglione, Italy, on the night of 23 & 24 April 1944, Private First Class Squires, platoon messenger, participating in his first offensive action, braved intense artillery, mortar, and antitank gun fire in order to investigate the effects of an antitank mine explosion on the leading platoon. Despite shells which burst close to him, Private First Class Squires made his way 50 yards forward to the advance element, noted the situation, reconnoitered a new route of advance and informed his platoon leader of the casualties sustained and the alternate route. Acting without orders, he rounded up stragglers, organized a group of lost men into a squad and led them forward. When the platoon reached Spaccasassi Creek and established an outpost, Private First Class Squires, knowing that almost all of the noncommissioned officers were casualties, placed eight men in position of his own volition, disregarding enemy machinegun, machine-pistol, and grenade fire which covered the creek draw. When his platoon had been reduced to 14 men, he brought up reinforcements twice. On each trip he went through barbed wire and across an enemy minefield, under intense artillery and mortar fire. Three times in the early morning the outpost was counterattacked. Each time Private First Class Squires ignored withering enemy automatic fire and grenades which struck all around him, and fired hundreds of rounds of rifle, Browning automatic rifle, and captured German Spandau machinegun ammunition at the enemy, inflicting numerous casualties and materially aiding in repulsing the attacks. Following these fights, he moved 50 yards to the south end of the outpost and engaged 21 German soldiers in individual machinegun duels at point-blank range, forcing all 21 enemy to surrender and capturing 13 more Spandau guns. Learning the function of this weapon by questioning a German officer prisoner, he placed the captured guns in position and instructed other members of his platoon in their operation. The next night when the Germans attacked the outpost again he killed three and wounded more Germans with captured potato-masher grenades and fire from his Spandau gun. Private First Class Squires was killed in a subsequent action.

Hand Salute. Ready, Two!

Category: Army, The Warrior Code, Valor, We Remember

Comments (9)

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  1. Outcast says:

    RIP soldier, you have done your duty to us and others.

  2. CDR_D says:

    Awe inspiring courage. BZ and RIP.

  3. 5th/77th FA says:

    FTA: “just four days after his 19th birthday…..killed in action.” Correct me if I read this wrong, but it appears as if this Warrior was only 18 years old, with less than 1 year of service, when he went all Alvin York/Audie Murphy/John Wayne on the Krauts. (Can we still say that in an historical sense?)

    That young, and a PFC to boot, cattle prodding, probably older higher ranking “stragglers”, into doing their duty with captured supplies.

    “Thanks God that such men lived.” I am in awe.
    Hand Salute! Ready, Two! SGT John C. Spires

    Thanks AW1Ed and the one that wishes to remain anonymous. These stories are appreciated…muchly

  4. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    I have read many MOH and other valor citations. This particular one is beyond words. If what Sgt. Squires did was in a movie, Veterans would walk out or laugh saying. “No f’n way.” The reality, however, says “Yes way. This way. Squires’ way.”

  5. Mason says:

    Absolutely incredible. Rest easy Sgt Squires, you earned it.

  6. AnotherPat says:

    Here is a nice picture of him in uniform.

    His Dad served in WW1.

    His parents and siblingd were Gold Star Family:

    https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/5900/john-c_-squires

    Salute. Rest In Peace, SGT Squires.

  7. HMC Ret says:

    He had a sister, Martha Lou, who died at the age of three. That’s a tremendous amount of sadness for one family to deal with.

    I am humbled by your sacrifice, Sir. I humbly pray that you are resting in peace. We owe you a gratitude we can never repay.

  8. Docduracoat says:

    Wow!
    That is an incredible story.
    Learned to use an enemy machine gun from a captured officer.
    During a battle!
    Then turned a battery of them on the enemy after instructing his guys on proper use.
    That is amazing!