Rank and organization: Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company A, 242d Infantry,
42d Infantry Division.
Place and date: Hatten, France, 9-10 January 1945.
Entered service at: Decatur, Ill.
Birth: 1 December 1916, Decatur, Ill.
G.O. No.: 5, 10 January 1946.
Citation: He fought with extreme gallantry
while guarding 2 command posts against the assault of powerful infantry
and armored forces which had overrun the battalion's main line of resistance.
On the close approach of enemy soldiers, he left the protection of the
building he defended and set up his gun in the street, there to remain
for almost 12 hours driving back attacks while in full view of his adversaries
and completely exposed to 88-mm., machinegun and small-arms fire. He moved
back inside the command post, strapped his machinegun to a table and covered
the main approach to the building by firing through a window, remaining
steadfast even in the face of 88-mm. fire from tanks only 75 yards away.
One shell blasted him across the room, but he returned to his weapon. When
2 enemy personnel carriers led by a tank moved toward his position, he
calmly waited for the troops to dismount and then, with the tank firing
directly at him, leaned out of the window and mowed down the entire group
of more than 20 Germans. Some time later, removal of the command post to
another building was ordered. M/Sgt. Bertoldo voluntarily remained behind,
covering the withdrawal of his comrades and maintaining his stand all night.
In the morning he carried his machinegun to an adjacent building used as
the command post of another battalion and began a day-long defense of that
position. He broke up a heavy attack, launched by a self-propelled 88-mm.
gun covered by a tank and about 15 infantrymen. Soon afterward another
88-mm. weapon moved up to within a few feet of his position, and, placing
the muzzle of its gun almost inside the building, fired into the room,
knocking him down and seriously wounding others. An American bazooka team
set the German weapon afire, and M/Sgt. Bertoldo went back to his machinegun
dazed as he was and killed several of the hostile troops as they attempted
to withdraw. It was decided to evacuate the command post under the cover
of darkness, but before the plan could be put into operation the enemy
began an intensive assault supported by fire from their tanks and heavy
guns. Disregarding the devastating barrage, he remained at his post and
hurled white phosphorous grenades into the advancing enemy troops until
they broke and retreated. A tank less than 50 yards away fired at his stronghold,
destroyed the machinegun and blew him across the room again but he once
more returned to the bitter fight and, with a rifle, single-handedly covered
the withdrawal of his fellow soldiers when the post was finally abandoned.
With inspiring bravery and intrepidity M/Sgt. Bertoldo withstood the attack
of vastly superior forces for more than 48 hours without rest or relief,
time after time escaping death only by the slightest margin while killing
at least 40 hostile soldiers and wounding many more during his grim battle
against the enemy hordes.
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)