The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
KNAPPENBERGER, ALTON W.
Rank and organization: Private First
Class, U.S. Army, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Cisterna di
Littoria, Italy, 1 February 1944. Entered service at: Spring Mount, Pa. Birth:
Cooperstown, Pa. G.O. No.: 41, 26 May 1944.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the
call of duty in action involving actual conflict with the enemy, on 1 February 1944 near
Cisterna di Littoria, Italy. When a heavy German counterattack was launched against his
battalion, Pfc. Knappenberger crawled to an exposed knoll and went into position with his
automatic rifle. An enemy machinegun 85 yards away opened fire, and bullets struck within
6 inches of him. Rising to a kneeling position, Pfc. Knappenberger opened fire on the
hostile crew, knocked out the gun, killed 2 members of the crew, and wounded the third.
While he fired at this hostile position, 2 Germans crawled to a point within 20 yards of
the knoll and threw potato-masher grenades at him, but Pfc. Knappenberger killed them both
with 1 burst from his automatic rifle. Later, a second machinegun opened fire upon his
exposed position from a distance of 100 yards, and this weapon also was silenced by his
well-aimed shots. Shortly thereafter, an enemy 20mm. antiaircraft gun directed fire at
him, and again Pfc. Knappenberger returned fire to wound 1 member of the hostile crew.
Under tank and artillery shellfire, with shells bursting within 15 yards of him, he held
his precarious position and fired at all enemy infantrymen armed with machine pistols and
machineguns which he could locate. When his ammunition supply became exhausted, he crawled
15 yards forward through steady machinegun fire, removed rifle clips from the belt of a
casualty, returned to his position and resumed firing to repel an assaulting German
platoon armed with automatic weapons. Finally, his ammunition supply being completely
exhausted, he rejoined his company. Pfc. Knappenberger's intrepid action disrupted the
enemy attack for over 2 hours.