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Reginald Desiderio entered active duty in the U.S. Army from the California National Guard, when his unit was federalized in 1941. With an O.C.S. Commission, he served during World War II in Southern France and Germany, earning a Silver Star and four Bronze Stars for his courage.
He later earned the Medal of Honor for actions during the Korean War.
MEDAL OF HONOR CITATION
Capt. Desiderio distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the repeated risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. His company was given the mission of defending the command post of a task force against an enemy breakthrough. After personal reconnaissance during darkness and under intense enemy fire, he placed his men in defensive positions to repel an attack. Early in the action he was wounded, but refused evacuation and despite enemy fire continued to move among his men checking their positions and making sure that each element was prepared to receive the next attack. Again wounded, he continued to direct his men. By his inspiring leadership he encouraged them to hold their position. In the subsequent fighting when the fanatical enemy succeeded in penetrating the position, he personally charged them with carbine, rifle, and grenades, inflicting many casualties until he himself was mortally wounded. His men, spurred on by his intrepid example, repelled this final attack. Capt. Desiderio's heroic leadership, courageous and loyal devotion to duty, and his complete disregard for personal safety reflect the highest honor on him and are in keeping with the esteemed traditions of the U.S. Army.
SILVER STAR CITATION
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star Medal to Captain (Infantry), [then First Lieutenant] Reginald Benjamin Desiderio (ASN: 0-1301272), United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving the Company C, 275th Infantry Regiment, 70th Infantry Division. On 8 January 1945, at 1400 Hours, near Phillipsbourg, France, Captain Desiderio, leading a four-man reconnaissance patrol, came across eight enemy digging in new mortar positions. Upon being discovered the enemy opened up with machine gun fire, delaying the patrol. Ordering his men to withdraw, Captain Desiderio slowly crawled forward until within sixty yards of the enemy and fired two grenades from his carbine, destroying the gun and killing one German. Then engaging the enemy in a firefight, he killed one and wounded three others before withdrawing back to the company for mortar and artillery aid. Captain Desiderio's actions, without regard for his own safety, reflect great credit on himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.