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Louisville Captor of 14 Machine Guns Wins Medal of Honor

Sergeant Squires, Killed In Italy, First Kentuckian to Get Award

The first Medal of Honor awarded to a Kentuckian in this war will be presented, in ceremonies at Fort Knox, to the father of a Louisville soldier who was killed in action on the Anzio beachhead in Italy four days after he became 19.

The nation's highest military decoration has been awarded posthumously to Sgt. John Charles Squires. It will be presented to his father, Leroy Y. Squires, 663 Westlawn, who served ten months in France during the last war with the 309th Engineers. The ceremonies at Fort Knox are scheduled at 11 a.m. Saturday. It will be the second time the Medal of Honor has been presented by Maj. Gen. Charles L. Scott at Fort Knox during World War II, the other going to an Ohioan. Because of the degree of the military honor, the medal and citation must be presented by an officer of the rank of major general or higher. So rare is the award of a Congressional Medal that it went to only one Kentuckian in the last war. He was the famous Sgt. Willie Sandlin, of Hyden.

Sergeant Squires. Who performed the heroic action covered by the Medal a month before he was killed, was only 18 at that time. He is the youngest Army man to get the Congressional Medal in this war. His award is the sixty-fifth made to a member of the Army in this war and the thirty-fourth made to an infantryman.

At the time of his heroic performance, April 23, young Squires was a private first class in the 30th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. On May 20, he was made a sergeant. Three days later, May 23, he was killed when the Allies started their big push from the Anzio beachhead toward Rome.

Sergeant Squires performed his act of gallantry "above and beyond the line of duty" during his first combat action, While serving as a messenger to his platoon leader, he volunteered for a series of dangerous missions, captured fourteen German machine guns used, one of them against the enemy, and took twenty-one prisoners single-handedly.

His platoon leader, 2d Lt. Randolph Bracey, 506 Romana Boulevard, Baldwin Park, Calif., himself was killed on June 1, but, before his death, he made a report of Squires' gallantry. The action in which they participated is known as the "Mr. Black" operation. Their mission was to clear the enemy out of Spaccasassi Creek, north of Padiglione, Italy, to establish an outpost and to hold it until relieved. Here is the way the War Department's Bureau of Public Relations recorded young Squires' achievements:

"On the night of April 23, Lieutenant Bracey led his platoon forward under intense artillery, mortar and antitank gun fire which, after a short time, began to disorganize the platoon with casualties. 'Though it appeared the task was going to be impossible, Lieutenant Bracey refused to withdraw when orders were passed forward to do so. 'He vowed: 'We're supposed to take the draw and we will.'

Led Squad Into Action.

'Lieutenant, said his messenger, 'Wait here while I go forward and see how the first platoon is making out' The officer agreed, and Squires crawled out through the exploding shells to the advarice element, fifty yards in front, where an antitank mine had just exploded.

"Squires surveyed the situation, picked out a new route, and went forward to report what he had found to Lieutenant Bracey. Then acting without orders he rounded up a group of stragglers and formed them into a squad, and led them into action.

"After the platoon reached Spaccasassi Creek and established the outpost, Squires knew that most of the noncommissioned officers had become casualties. Again without orders, he placed eight men in advantageous positions, moving about calmly under automatic and grenade fire.

At last, when the platoon had been reduced to only fourteen men, he volunteered to return for reinforcements.

Dodged~Barbed Wire, Shells

'I told him to move out' said Lieutenant Bracey. He left the draw, and between flashes of bursting shells which lit up the area, I could see him running through barbed wire and zigzagging across the exposed, flat fields toward our lines, shells bursting within fifteen yards of him as he moved.'

"Squires successfully guided reinforcements to the draw through the same intense fire. Returned for more and led them to Lieutenant Bracey's position. Shortly after dawn, reported Lieutenant Bracey, 'Squires came up to me with a German Spandau machine gun. He had gone up the draw alone, probing German foxholes, and had found this abandoned gun and some ammunition. I asked him if he knew how to operate the gun. He sad he wasn't sure, but he'd try."

Squires learned quickly. He used the gun in the first of three vicious counterattacks the Germans hurled at the infantryman. The second time the enemy counterattacked, Squires opened up with the Spandau, but it jammed. He picked up a Browning automatic rifle from a casualty and fired this with telling effect.

Between the second and third counterattacks, one of the infantrymen captured a German lieutenant in a foxhole about ten yards in front of the outpost. Squires discovered the enemy could speak English and he talked to him learning to disassemble and assemble the Spandau machine gun. He repaired the jammed weapon. When the counterattack came, he again fired the enemy's bullets at them with their own gun.

Squires Did Not Rest.

Shortly after dawn, the counterattacks ceased, and there was relative quiet for a time. Squires did not rest. He patrolled the front line, finding fifty yards beyond the south outposts enemy positions which he attacked single handedly. He captured twenty of the Germans there and brought back thirteen additional Spandau machine guns.

During the day he set up the captured weapons and instructed his comrades in their use. By night, when the Germans attacked for a fourth time, the Spandaus were in action against them. Squires manned one. Beside him were enemy potato masher grenades. With machine gun and grenades he was credited with destroying three Germans, as well as wounding a number of others. When the platoon was relieved, it was still holding its position, and Squires was there, too, with his variety of weapons.

During the course of the Mr. Black operation, he had fired hundreds of rounds of rifle, bar and captured Spandau ammunition, had inflicted numerous casualties, and, as his regimental commander reported, 'had contributed immeasurably to the successful accomplishment of the mission.

Sergeant Squires was born in Louisville May 19, 1925, attended Holy Cross High School for a year, and Louisville Male High School. He was a member of the Junior R.O.T.C. at Male. He left Male High to take a job with the Jeffersonville Boat & Machine Company, but because he was only 17 years old he couldn't keep the job, and went to work in the office of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway Company.

Squires was drafted on August 14, 1943, and went to Fort McClellan, Ala., for his basic training. His last furlough and the last time he saw his family and friends was Christmas 1943. He left December 29, for his port of embarkation at Fort Meade, Md., and went overseas with the 30th Infantry of the 3rd Armored Division in January, 1944.

2 Brothers in Service

Two other brothers are in the service. They are Cpl. Leroy F. Squires, 23, and Pvt. Steven Squires, 21, both in Italy. The two brothers recently were on furlough and met in Italy for the first time. A sister, Mary Virginia Squires, 17, is a senior at Shawnee High School.

Squires father, a railway mail service employee between Louisville and Chicago, is a native of Nebraska and was living in Indianapolis at the time of his enlistment in the Army in World War I.

Gary-haired Mrs. Squires said she had received a letter from "Johnny's" chaplain telling her that her hero-son was buried with full military honors, but he was not permitted to disclose any information about his death.

Sgt. John Squires Medal of Honor Sgt. John Squires Medal of Honor
Sgt. John Squires Medal of Honor Sgt. John Squires Medal of Honor
Sgt. John Squires Medal of Honor Sgt. John Squires Medal of Honor
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