Tuesday, June 15, 2010
SSGT ARCHER T. GAMMON 1918-1945
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company A, 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division.
Place and date: Near Bastogne, Belgium, 11 January 1945.
Archer T. “John” Gammon, son of Walter Ashby Gammon and Cordie Sue Evans Gammon, was born September 11, 1918, about six miles north of Chatham, Virginia. Until January 1942 he grew up and worked on the family farm; then, with his parents, he moved to Danville and became a textile worker.
Through Pittsylvania County's Selective Service Board Number 1 in Chatham, he was inducted into the Army at Roanoke, Virginia, March 21, 1942. He was one of four brothers and a sister who served in the armed forces during World War II. After training in Arkansas and California, he was sent to France via Glasgow, Scotland, in July 1944. He was made a Staff Sergeant five months later.
Near Bastogne, Belgium, Jaunary 11, 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge, he led a platoon of Company A, 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division, through hip-deep snow up two hundred yards of open hillside. When his unit was pinned down by German fire from the strategic woodland which was its objective, he advanced alone and disrupted the enemy's resistance. Singlehandedly, with rifle and grenades he silenced two machine guns, killed nine Germans, and forced a Tiger Royal tank and supporting infantry into retreat. Having cleared the woods, he was struck, at a range within twenty-five yards, by a direct hit from the armored vehicle's eight-eight millimeter gun and was instantly killed. His relentless and daring attack, in complete disregard for all thoughts of personal safety, enabled his platoon to continue its advance.
Gammon had previously been awarded the Bronze Star. His final incident of valor was the basis for his receiving posthumously the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Citation: 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.