85th Infantry Division in World War II
The 85th Infantry Division in World War II

The Congressional Medal of Honor

Custer Division 1st Lieutenant Orville E. Bloch
Company E, 338th Infantry, 85th Infantry Division
Lt. Orville E. Bloch

Born in Big Falls, Wisconsin, Orville Bloch entered service in Streeter, North Daokta, and was assigned to the 338th Infantry, 85th Infantry Division. As a platoon leader, Boch was conspicuous in leading his command in the assaults on the Gothic Line at Mount Altuzzo. The regiment advanced through the line and toward the city of Firenzuola, Italy. It was near here on September 22, 1944, that Lt. Bloch took the matter of enemy resistance into his own hands.

Citation: 1st Lieutenant Orville E. Bloch, 338th Infantry, United States Army.
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Bloch undertook the task of wiping out five enemy machine gun nests that had held up the advance in that particular sector for one day. Gathering three volunteers from his platoon, the patrol snaked their way to a big rock, behind which a group of three buildings and five machine gun nests were located. Leaving the three men behind the rock, he attacked the first machine gun nest alone charging into furious automatic fire, kicking over the machine gun, and capturing the machine gun crew of five. Pulling the pin from a grenade, he held it ready in his hand and dashed into the face of withering automatic fire toward this second enemy machine gun nest located at the corner of an adjacent building fifteen yards distant. When within twenty feet of the machine gun he hurled the grenade, wounding the machine gunner, the other two members of the crew fleeing into a door of the house. Calling one of his volunteer group to accompany him, they advanced to the opposite end of the house, there contacting a machine gun crew of five running toward this house. 1st Lt. Bloch and his men opened fire on the enemy crew, forcing them to abandon this machine gun and ammunition and flee into the same house. Without a moment's hesitation, 1st Lt. Bloch, unassisted, rushed through the door into a hail of small-arms fire, firing his carbine from the hip, and captured the seven occupants, wounding three of them. 1st Lt. Bloch with his men then proceeded to a third house where they discovered an abandoned enemy machine gun and detected another enemy machine gun nest at the next corner of the building. The crew of 6 spotted 1st Lt. Bloch the instant he saw them. Without a moment's hesitation he dashed toward them. The enemy fired pistols wildly in his direction and vanished through a door of the house, 1st Lt. Bloch following them through the door, firing his carbine from the hip, wounding two of the enemy and capturing six. Altogether 1st Lt. Bloch had single-handed captured nineteen prisoners, wounding six of them and eliminating a total of five enemy machine gun nests. His gallant and heroic actions saved his company many casualties and permitted them to continue the attack with new inspiration and vigor."

(*General Orders No. 9, US Fifth Army, 10 February 1945)

Bloch was the last surviving winner of the Medal of Honor that served with the Custer Division in Italy. He retired as a full colonel and died on June 30, 1983.

 


338th Infantry in World War II

Custer Division The 85th Infantry Division in World War II
The Unofficial Webpages of the Polar Bear Association of World War II:
Veterans of 339th Infantry, 910th FA Bn, 310th Engineer Bn, & 310th Medical Bn

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