Medal of Honor: Charles E. Kelly

Our "Medal of Honor" series explores the stories behind the courageous Pennsylvanian veterans who have been awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor for their exemplary service in the United States military. In this entry, we recognize the achievements of Charles E. Kelly, who was awarded the Medal of Honor on February 18, 1944.


Charles E. Kelly joined the Army in Pittsburgh in May 1942, and by September 13, 1943 was serving as a Corporal in Company L, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division. Kelly was the first enlisted man to be decorated with the Medal of Honor for action on the European continent.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, Charles E. Kelly was awarded the Medal of Honor. On 13 September 1943, near Altavilla, Italy, Cpl. Kelly voluntarily joined a patrol that located and neutralized enemy machine gun positions. After this hazardous duty, he volunteered to establish contact with a battalion of U.S. infantry that was believed to be located on Hill 315, a mile distant. He traveled over a route commanded by enemy observation and under sniper, mortar, and artillery fire. Later, he returned with the correct information that the enemy occupied Hill 315 in organized positions. Immediately thereafter Cpl. Kelly, again a volunteer patrol member, assisted materially in the destruction of two enemy machine gun nests under conditions requiring great skill and courage. Having effectively fired his weapon until all the ammunition was exhausted, he secured permission to obtain more at an ammunition dump. Arriving at the dump, which was located near a storehouse on the extreme flank of his regiment's position, Cpl. Kelly found that the Germans were attacking ferociously at this point. He obtained his ammunition and was given the mission of protecting the rear of the storehouse. He held his position throughout the night. The following morning the enemy attack was resumed. Cpl. Kelly took a position at an open window of the storehouse. One machine gunner had been killed at this position and several other soldiers wounded. Cpl. Kelly delivered continuous aimed and effective fire upon the enemy with his automatic rifle until the weapon locked from overheating. Finding another automatic rifle, he again directed effective fire upon the enemy until this weapon also locked. At this critical point, with the enemy threatening to overrun the position, Cpl. Kelly picked up 60 mm mortar shells, pulled the safety pins, and used the shells as grenades, killing at least 5 of the enemy. When it became imperative that the house be evacuated, Cpl. Kelly, despite his sergeant's injunctions, volunteered to hold the position until the remainder of the detachment could withdraw. As the detachment moved out, Cpl. Kelly was observed deliberately loading and firing a rocket launcher from the window. He was successful in covering the withdrawal of the unit, and later in joining his own organization. Cpl. Kelly's fighting determination and intrepidity in battle exemplify the highest traditions of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Medal of Honor: Walter J. Marm, Jr.

Our "Medal of Honor" series explores the stories behind the courageous Pennsylvanian veterans who have been awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor for their exemplary service in the United States military. In this entry, we recognize the achievements of Walter J. Marm, Jr., who was awarded the Medal of Honor on February 15, 1967.


Walter Marm joined the U.S. Army from Pittsburgh, PA, graduated from Officers Candidate School, and attended Ranger School. By September 1965, he was serving in the South Vietnam. On November 14, he was a second lieutenant and platoon leader of 2nd Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. On that day, during the Battle of Ia Drang, he single-handedly destroyed an enemy machine-gun position and several of its defenders, suffering severe wounds in the process. Marm reached the rank of colonel before retiring from the Army in 1995.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. As a platoon leader in the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), 1st Lt. Marm demonstrated indomitable courage during a combat operation. His company was moving through the valley to relieve a friendly unit surrounded by an enemy force of estimated regimental size. 1st Lt. Marm led his platoon through withering fire until they were finally forced to take cover. Realizing that his platoon could not hold very long, and seeing four enemy soldiers moving into his position, he moved quickly under heavy fire and annihilated all four. Then, seeing that his platoon was receiving intense fire from a concealed machinegun, he deliberately exposed himself to draw its fire. Thus locating its position, he attempted to destroy it with an antitank weapon. Although he inflicted casualties, the weapon did not silence the enemy fire. Disregarding the intense fire directed on him and his platoon, he charged 30 meters across open ground, and hurled grenades into the enemy position, killing some of the 8 insurgents manning it. Although severely wounded, when his grenades were expended, armed with only a rifle, he continued the momentum of his assault on the position and killed the remainder of the enemy. 1st Lt. Marm's selfless actions reduced the fire on his platoon, broke the enemy assault, and rallied his unit to continue toward the accomplishment of this mission. 1st Lt. Marm's gallantry on the battlefield and his extraordinary intrepidity at the risk of his life are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

Medal of Honor: William S. Sitman

Our "Medal of Honor" series explores the stories behind the courageous Pennsylvanian veterans who have been awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor for their exemplary service in the United States military. In this entry, we recognize the achievements of William S. Sitman, who was awarded the Medal of Honor on February 1, 1952.


William Sitman (August 9, 1923 – February 14, 1951) was a Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army, Company M, 23d Infantry Regiment, 2d Infantry Division in the United States Army during the Korean War. He posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions on February 14, 1951, during the Battle of Chipyong-ni. Sitman joined the Army from his birthplace of Bellwood, Pennsylvania in February 1943.

Sfc. Sitman distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against an armed enemy of the United Nations. Sfc. Sitman, a machine gun section leader of Company M, was attached to Company I, under attack by a numerically superior hostile force. During the encounter when an enemy grenade knocked out his machine gun, a squad from Company I immediately emplaced a light machine gun and Sfc. Sitman and his men remained to provide security for the crew. In the ensuing action, the enemy lobbed a grenade into the position and Sfc. Sitman, fully aware of the odds against him, selflessly threw himself on it, absorbing the full force of the explosion with his body. Although mortally wounded in this fearless display of valor, his intrepid act saved five men from death or serious injury, and enabled them to continue inflicting withering fire on the ruthless foe throughout the attack. Sfc. Sitman's noble self-sacrifice and consummate devotion to duty reflect lasting glory on himself and uphold the honored traditions of the military service.

Medal of Honor: George H. Ramer

Our "Medal of Honor" series explores the stories behind the courageous Pennsylvanian veterans who have been awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor for their exemplary service in the United States military. In this entry, we recognize the achievements of George H. Ramer, who was awarded the Medal of Honor on January 7, 1953.


George Henry Ramer was born on March 27, 1927 in Meyersdale, PA. He attended elementary school in Salisbury, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Lewisburg High School in 1944 in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Navy on August 11, 1944 and served until June 5, 1946. Upon his return to civilian life, he entered Bucknell University. While attending college, he enrolled in the Marine Corps Reserve Platoon Leader’s program. He was commissioned in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1950 and taught high school civics, history and problems of democracy in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, before he was called to active duty at his own request on January 3, 1951.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as leader of the 3d Platoon in Company I, in action against enemy aggressor forces. Ordered to attack and seize hostile positions atop a hill, vigorously defended by well-entrenched enemy forces delivering massed small-arms mortar, and machine gun fire, 2d Lt. Ramer fearlessly led his men up the steep slopes. Although he and the majority of his unit were wounded during the ascent, he boldly continued to spearhead the assault. With the terrain becoming more precipitous near the summit and the climb more perilous as the hostile forces added grenades to the devastating hail of fire, he staunchly carried the attack to the top, personally annihilated one enemy bunker with grenade and carbine fire and captured the objective with his remaining eight men. Unable to hold the position against an immediate, overwhelming hostile counterattack, he ordered his group to withdraw and single-handedly fought the enemy to furnish cover for his men and for the evacuation of three fatally wounded marines. Severely wounded a second time, 2d Lt. Ramer refused aid when his men returned to help him and, after ordering them to seek shelter, courageously manned his post until the hostile troops overran his position and he fell mortally wounded. His indomitable fighting spirit, inspiring leadership and unselfish concern for others in the face of death, reflect the highest credit upon 2d Lt. Ramer and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Medal of Honor: James W. Reese

Our "Medal of Honor" series explores the stories behind the courageous Pennsylvanian veterans who have been awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor for their exemplary service in the United States military. In this entry, we recognize the achievements of James W. Reese, who was awarded the Medal of Honor on December 17, 1943.


Private Reese joined the Army from his birth city of Chester, Pennsylvania in November 1941, and by August 5, 1943 was serving as a private in the 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. On that day, at Mt. Vassillio, Sicily, Reese led his mortar squad in a defense against an enemy counterattack. 

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty in action involving actual conflict with the enemy, James Reese was awarded the Medal of Honor. When the enemy launched a counterattack which threatened the position of his company, Pvt. Reese, as the acting squad leader of a 60-mm. mortar squad, displayed superior leadership on his own initiative. He maneuvered his squad forward to a favorable position, from which, by skillfully directing the fire of his weapon, he caused many casualties in the enemy ranks, and aided materially in repulsing the counterattack. When the enemy fire became so severe as to make his position untenable, he ordered the other members of his squad to withdraw to a safer position, but declined to seek safety for himself. So as to bring more effective fire upon the enemy, Pvt. Reese, without assistance, moved his mortar to a new position and attacked an enemy machine gun nest. He had only three rounds of ammunition but secured a direct hit with his last round, destroying the nest and killing the occupants. Ammunition being exhausted, he abandoned the mortar, seized a rifle, and continued to advance, moving into an exposed position overlooking the enemy. Despite a heavy concentration of machine gun, mortar, and artillery fire, the heaviest experienced by his unit throughout the entire Sicilian campaign, he remained at this position and continued to inflict casualties upon the enemy until he was killed. His bravery, coupled with his gallant and unswerving determination to close with the enemy, regardless of consequences and obstacles which he faced, are a priceless inspiration to our armed forces.

Reese, aged 23 at his death, was buried in Chester Rural Cemetery, Chester, PA.
After the Second World War, the Reese Barracks in Augsburg, Germany, were named in his honor. A United States Army Reserve Center in Upland, PA was also named in his honor.