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Kenneth E. Gruennert
Born (1922-11-19)November 19, 1922
Died December 24, 1942(1942-12-24) (aged 20)
Place of birth Helenville, Wisconsin
Place of death near Buna, New Guinea
Place of burial Evergreen Cemetery
Helenville, Wisconsin
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1939 - 1942
Rank Sergeant
Unit 127th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal of Honor

Kenneth E. Gruennert (November 19, 1922 – December 24, 1942) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.


Born in Helenville, Wisconsin, on November 19, 1922, Gruennert attended Jefferson High School in nearby Jefferson. During high school he played football and was captain of the school's championship-winning team. At age 16, he enlisted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard from Helenville and served in the 32nd Infantry Division.[1]

The 32nd Division was federalized in 1940, and after the attack on Pearl Harbor the unit began training for combat.[1] On December 24, 1942, Gruennert was fighting the Japanese in the Battle of Buna-Gona in New Guinea as a sergeant with Company L of the 127th Infantry Regiment. Near the village of Buna, he was second-in-command of a platoon tasked with advancing through Japanese positions to a beach 600 yards (550 m) ahead. When they came upon a Japanese bunker, Gruennert single-handedly attacked and silenced the enemy soldiers' position. Although seriously wounded, he refused medical evacuation and successfully attacked a second bunker, but was killed by a sniper immediately after. For these actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor ten months later, on October 11, 1943.[2]

Gruennert, aged 20 at his death, was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in his hometown of Helenville.[3]

Medal of Honor citationEdit

Sergeant Gruennert's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. On 24 December 1942, near Buna, New Guinea, Sgt. Gruennert was second in command of a platoon with a mission to drive through the enemy lines to the beach 600 yards ahead. Within 150 yards of the objective, the platoon encountered 2 hostile pillboxes. Sgt. Gruennert advanced alone on the first and put it out of action with hand grenades and rifle fire, killing 3 of the enemy. Seriously wounded in the shoulder, he bandaged his wound under cover of the pillbox, refusing to withdraw to the aid station and leave his men. He then, with undiminished daring, and under extremely heavy fire, attacked the second pillbox. As he neared it he threw grenades which forced the enemy out where they were easy targets for his platoon. Before the leading elements of his platoon could reach him he was shot by enemy snipers. His inspiring valor cleared the way for his platoon which was the first to attain the beach in this successful effort to split the enemy position.[2]

See alsoEdit


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
  1. 1.0 1.1 Kent, Alan E. (Winter, 1952-1953). "Wisconsin and the Medal of Honor". pp. 107–108. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Medal of Honor recipients - World War II (G – L)". Medal of Honor citations. United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  3. "Kenneth E. Gruennert". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 

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