Not much ordinary about Master Sergeant Ross, USA (Ret.) who recently passed at age 94.
WaPo did a nice obit;
On Oct. 30, 1944, Sgt. Ross’s company took heavy casualties from German forces, losing 55 of its 88 men. About 11:30 a.m., Sgt. Ross moved to a forward position, 10 yards beyond his company’s riflemen, and set up his light machine gun.Not the end of the story.
He was an open target for German marksmen and artillery fire, yet he held steady for five hours, carrying on what was virtually a one-man battle.
“His position seemed to be on fire,” a U.S. officer who witnessed the battle said afterward, “because of the explosions all around him.”
Wave after wave of German soldiers attacked Sgt. Ross’s position, yet he managed to repel successive counterattacks with well-aimed machine-gun fire.
At one point, he grabbed a rifle from a wounded soldier nearby and aimed it toward approaching enemy troops. The rifle was struck by a German bullet, rendering the gun useless, but Sgt. Ross was not hurt.
“I throwed that thing down,” Sgt. Ross told the website Militaryvaloan.com in 2013, “and I had that machine gun pouring.”
When his machine gun temporarily ran out of ammunition, Sgt. Ross refused to abandon his post.
“He merely shook his head,” William T. Wardell, a lieutenant in the unit, said in 1945.
With the few surviving U.S. riflemen reduced to fixing their bayonets for hand-to-hand combat, German troops crawled as close as four yards to Sgt. Ross’s machine-gun nest.
They were to toss grenades into his emplacement when he received a fresh supply of ammunition.
“He opened up as they swarmed him, firing short bursts,” Wardell said. “In less than a minute I saw 50 Germans fall dead or wounded around his machine gun. When the enemy turned and ran, corpses were piled high around the gun.”
Sgt. Ross “broke the assault single-handedly, and forced the Germans to withdraw,” according to his citation for the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award for valor.
He killed or wounded at least 58 German soldiers and “saved the remnants of his company from destruction.”
He stayed by his gun through the night and next day, prepared for a possible return by enemy forces. After 36 hours, it was clear that the Germans had abandoned the field.
Sgt. Ross emerged from the battle unscathed.
After the war, he worked for the Kentucky highway authority for a year or two before reenlisting in the Army. In 1950, after only nine days on the battlefield in the Korean War, Sgt. Ross was severely wounded in his legs by machine-gun fire. He remained in the Army until 1964.That, my friends, is a man in full with a life well lived.
He settled in DuPont, Wash., where he worked in a pickle factory and drove a van for a veterans hospital. He often attended veterans events and was one of 12 Medal of Honor recipients featured on postage stamps released in 2013.
His wife of more than 60 years, the former Monica Belford, died in 2011. They had six children. Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.
Sgt. Ross had few trappings of his wartime heroism, except for a commemorative Medal of Honor license plate that other motorists occasionally noticed in traffic.
“Sometimes people salute me,” he said.
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