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Diamond Bullet Member and the Revered Sir Jim
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Once Called a One-Man Army... Now Honored with the Highest Decoration of the US Military
"You're a one man army," said a beachhead General to Private First Class Alton W. Knappenberger, 20, Spring Mount, Pennsylvania, shown here cleaning his fondest possession, an automatic rifle. With it, he neutralized approximately 40 enemy combatants" -US Signal Corps Archive
"After the loss of his two comrades Private First Class Knappenberger fired 600 rounds of ammo returned for more- then stopped more Germans, including an officer and 7 men who ordered him to surrender during the Battle of Cisterna in Italy. Alton Knappenberger served in the 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division." (Source: US Army Center of Military History)
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Private First Class Knappenberger's official Medal of Honor Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action involving actual conflict with the enemy, on February 1, 1944, near Cisterna di Littoria, Italy. When a heavy German counterattack was launched against his battalion, Pfc. Knappenberger crawled to an exposed knoll and went into position with his automatic rifle. An enemy machinegun 85 yards away opened fire, and bullets struck within 6 inches of him. Rising to a kneeling position, Pfc. Knappenberger opened fire on the hostile crew, knocked out the gun, eliminated 2 members of the crew, and wounded the third. While he fired at this hostile position, 2 Germans crawled to a point within 20 yards of the knoll and threw potato-masher grenades at him, but Pfc. Knappenberger stop them both with 1 burst from his automatic rifle. Later, a second machinegun opened fire upon his exposed position from a distance of 100 yards, and this weapon also was silenced by his well-aimed shots. Shortly thereafter, an enemy 20mm. antiaircraft gun directed fire at him, and again Knappenberger returned fire to wound 1 member of the hostile crew. Under tank and artillery shellfire, with shells bursting within 15 yards of him, he held his position and fired at all enemy Infantrymen. When his ammunition supply became exhausted, he crawled 15 yards forward through steady machinegun fire, removed rifle clips from the belt of a casualty, returned to his position and resumed firing to repel an assaulting German platoon armed with automatic weapons. Finally, his ammunition supply being completely exhausted, he rejoined his men. Private First Class Knappenberger's intrepid action disrupted the enemy attack for over 2 hours.
Knappenberger was then promoted to Staff Sergeant. His Medal of Honor Ceremony was held on May 26, 1944.
Alton returned to Pennsylvania after the war. He owned a potato farm and later changed careers; working for a blacktop pavement company. Knappenberger was also an avid hunter. Alton passed on June 9, 2008 at the age of 84. Private First Class Knappenberger lies in rest at Arlington National Cemetery.


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Gold Bullet Member and Noted Curmudgeon
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And yet, again, I must ask "where do we GET such men??"
Be blown to H*** with gunpowder if i know. Have known a few who did some extraordinary things (once met Audie Murphey. You would never think he'd done what he did from the way he looked, talked and acted), and where i knew the backgrounds, they were so different that - you just don't know. Or at least I don't.
 
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