Rank and organization:   Private First Class, U.S. Army, 133d Infantry,
34th Infantry Division.
Place and date:   Northwest of Cassino, Italy, 3
Entered service at:   Alder Gulch, Mont.
Birth:   Anselmo, Nebr.
G.O. No.: 5, 15 January 1945.
Citation:   For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity
at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. On 3 February 1944,
this soldier's company was assigned the mission of capturing Hill 175,
the key enemy strong point northwest of Cassino, Italy. The enemy, estimated
to be at least 50 in strength, supported by machineguns emplaced in 3 pillboxes
and mortar fire from behind the hill, was able to pin the attackers down
and inflict 8 casualties. The company was unable to advance, but Pfc. Powers,
a rifleman in 1 of the assault platoons, on his own initiative and in the
face of the terrific fire, crawled forward to assault 1 of the enemy pillboxes
which he had spotted. Armed with 2 handgrenades and well aware that if
the enemy should see him it would mean almost certain death, Pfc. Powers
crawled up the hill to within 15 yards of the enemy pillbox. Then standing
upright in full view of the enemy gunners in order to throw his grenade
into the small opening in the roof, he tossed a grenade into the pillbox.
At this close, the grenade entered the pillbox, killed 2 of the occupants
and 3 or 4 more fled the position, probably wounded. This enemy gun silenced,
the center of the line was able to move forward again, but almost immediately
came under machinegun fire from a second enemy pillbox on the left flank.
Pfc. Powers, however, had located this pillbox, and crawled toward it with
absolutely no cover if the enemy should see him. Raising himself in full
view of the enemy gunners about 15 feet from the pillbox, Pfc. Powers threw
his grenade into the pillbox, silencing this gun, killing another German
and probably wounding 3 or 4 more who fled. Pfc. Powers, still acting on
his own initiative, commenced crawling toward the third enemy pillbox in
the face of heavy machine-pistol and machinegun fire. Skillfully availing
himself of the meager cover and concealment, Pfc. Powers crawled up to
within 10 yards of this pillbox fully exposed himself to the enemy gunners,
stood upright and tossed the 2 grenades into the small opening in the roof
of the pillbox. His grenades killed 2 of the enemy and 4 more, all wounded,
came out and surrendered to Pfc. Powers, who was now unarmed. Pfc. Powers
had worked his way over the entire company front, and against tremendous
odds had single-handedly broken the backbone of this heavily defended and
strategic enemy position, and enabled his regiment to advance into the
city of Cassino. Pfc. Powers' fighting determination and intrepidity in
battle exemplify the highest traditions of the U.S. Armed Forces.
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)