John J. McVeigh

John Joseph McVeigh (September 26, 1921 – August 29, 1944) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions during the Battle for Brest in World War II.

John J. McVeigh
John J. McVeigh.jpg
Birth nameJohn Joseph McVeigh
BornSeptember 26, 1921
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedAugust 29, 1944(1944-08-29) (aged 22)[1]
near Brest, France  
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1942 - 1944
Unit23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsMedal of Honor


McVeigh was born in 1921. He was working at a rustproofing company[2] when he joined the Army in his hometown of Philadelphia in September 1942,[3] and by August 29, 1944, was serving as a sergeant in Company H, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. During a German counterattack on that day, near Brest, France, he directed his squad's fire and, when his position was almost overrun, single-handedly charged the Germans with his only weapon, a trench knife. McVeigh was killed in the attack and, on April 6, 1945, posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

McVeigh, aged 22 at his death, was buried in the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Cheltenham, Pennsylvania.

Medal of Honor citationEdit

Sergeant McVeigh's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty near Brest, France, on 29 August 1944. Shortly after dusk an enemy counterattack of platoon strength was launched against 1 platoon of Company G, 23d Infantry. Since the Company G platoon was not dug in and had just begun to assume defensive positions along a hedge, part of the line sagged momentarily under heavy fire from small arms and 2 flak guns, leaving a section of heavy machineguns holding a wide frontage without rifle protection. The enemy drive moved so swiftly that German riflemen were soon almost on top of 1 machinegun position. Sgt. McVeigh, heedless of a tremendous amount of small arms and flak fire directed toward him, stood up in full view of the enemy and directed the fire of his squad on the attacking Germans until his position was almost overrun. He then drew his trench knife, and single-handed charged several of the enemy. In a savage hand-to-hand struggle, Sgt. McVeigh killed 1 German with the knife, his only weapon, and was advancing on 3 more of the enemy when he was shot down and killed with small arms fire at pointblank range. Sgt. McVeigh's heroic act allowed the 2 remaining men in his squad to concentrate their machinegun fire on the attacking enemy and then turn their weapons on the 3 Germans in the road, killing all 3. Fire from this machinegun and the other gun of the section was almost entirely responsible for stopping this enemy assault, and allowed the rifle platoon to which it was attached time to reorganize, assume positions on and hold the high ground gained during the day.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963
  2. ^ Draft Registration Cards for Pennsylvania, 10/16/1940 - 03/31/1947; The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri.
  3. ^ WWII Army Enlistment Records
  4. ^ "Hall of Valor: John J. McVeigh". Military Times. Archived from the original on 2014-04-26. Retrieved 2014-04-26.