Archer T. Gammon
Details of the gallant action for which Staff Sergeant Archer T. Gammon of Danville and Chatham, has been posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, were announced by the War Department today. A Washington Association Press dispatch this morning quoted the War Department as saying that the nation’s highest award was for Sgt. Gammon’s heroic action in single-handedly killing nine Germans and forcing a Tiger Royal tank to withdraw before he was killed by a direct hit from the tank’s 88 mm gun.
The War Department’s announcement said that the action for which Sgt. Gammon is being posthumously honored occurred January 11, 1945, during the battle for Bastogne, Belgium. Sgt. Gammon was a squad leader with a platoon, which with two other platoons, all part of Company A, 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division, was advancing onto a wood west of the Our River.
Brilliant sunshine on hip-deap snow made observation easy for the Germans lurking in the wood, but the Americans were permitted to cross most of the clearing before a German machine gun and serveral riflemen opened fire forcing the Americans to dive into the snow.
Sgt. Gammon decided to push forward in search for the machine gun. Staff Sgt. Felix Wirta, Grand Rapids, Minn., now honorably discharged, watched him go. Another eyewitness, Sgt. Frank P. Seinko, 72 Remsen Ave., Hempstead, Long Island, N.Y., also discharged, reported that “with rifle fire and grenades, Sgt. Gammon destroyed the machine gun, killing its two man crew and a supporting rifleman.”
“Then we were able to enter the woods.” Continued Sgt. Sienko, “Immediately German infantry with rifles, automatic weapons and a Tiger Royal tank in support, pinned us down again. Our own tank destroyers and medium tank had failed to secure a firing position because of difficult terrain.”
Sgt. Gammon again advanced alone. “He succeeded in getting within grenade throwing distance of the machine gun, “ related Staff Sgt. George Wallick, 610 Water Street, Wrightsville, Penn., discharged. “With one grenade he knocked out the gun and killed the crew of four.”
Staff Sgt. Joseph S. LaGuardia, 8000 N, Washington St. Denver, Colo., described how Sgt. Gammon tried to get within grenade-throwing range of the tank in attempt to wreck its tracks. In his maneuvering he killed two more riflemen, Sgt. Gammon’s aggressiveness forced the tank on the defensive. The sergeant got within 25 yards of the tank, when a direct hit from its 88mm gun killed him instantly, said Sgt. LaGuardia, but the tank continued to retreat.
And Sgt. Gammon’s official citation stated: “By his intrepidity and extreme devotion to the task of driving the enemy back no matter what the odds. Sgt. Gammon cleared the woods of German forces, for the tank continued to withdraw, leaving open the path for the gallant squad leader’s platoon.
Sgt. Gammon was born Sept. 11, 1918. He entered the Army on March 21, 1942. Although he worked and resided in Danville at the time of his induction, he was registered at Chatham and entered the Army through that county board.
Sgt. Gammon formerly engaged in farming with his parents about six miles north of Chatham, before he and the family moved to Danville in January 1942.
Sgt. Gammon has three brothers and a sister who served in the armed forces.
The sister, Mrs. Frank A. Rodgers, formerly Miss Mildred Frances Gammon enlisted in the Waves in July, 1944, and was honorably discharged in March 1945. She attended Hunter College, N.Y, while training and serving at the San Diego Naval Hospital and the U.S. Naval Pre-flight School at Athens, Ga.
A brother Robert J. Gammon entered the Army March, 1941, and served in the E.T.O. two and a half years before discharge under the point system in December, 1945.
Another brother, James Gammon saw service as a member of the Coast Guard in both the Atlantic an Pacific areas. He enlisted in September 1942, and was discharged on points last December.
The third brother, Walter J. Gammon, entered the Navy in April of 1944 and was stationed aboard the S.S. Hoel at the time that ship was sunk in action on October 25, 1944, in the Pacific. He was among the rescued and holds the Purple Heart and three Battle Stars. He subsequently received an medical discharge.
He charged 30 yards through hip-deep snow to knock out a machinegun and its 3-man crew with grenades, saving his platoon from being decimated and allowing it to continue its advance from an open field into some nearby woods. The platoon's advance through the woods had only begun when a machinegun supported by riflemen opened fire and a Tiger Royal tank sent 88mm. shells screaming at the unit from the left flank. S/Sgt. Gammon, disregarding all thoughts of personal safety, rushed forward, then cut to the left, crossing the width of the platoon's skirmish line in an attempt to get within grenade range of the tank and its protecting foot troops. Intense fire was concentrated on him by riflemen and the machinegun emplaced near the tank. He charged the automatic weapon, wiped out its crew of 4 with grenades, and, with supreme daring, advanced to within 25 yards of the armored vehicle, killing 2 hostile infantrymen with rifle fire as he moved forward. The tank had started to withdraw, backing a short distance, then firing, backing some more, and then stopping to blast out another round, when the man whose single-handed relentless attack had put the ponderous machine on the defensive was struck and instantly killed by a direct hit from the Tiger Royal's heavy gun. By his intrepidity and extreme devotion to the task of driving the enemy back no matter what the odds, S/Sgt. Gammon cleared the woods of German forces, for the tank continued to withdraw, leaving open the path for the gallant squad leader's platoon.
14 February 1946 • Page 1
Archer T. Gammon
Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army
9th Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division
Entered the Service from: Virginia
Buried at: Mountain View Cemetery
Danville City, Virginia, U.S.
Awards: Purple Heart, Bronze Start, Medal of Honor