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John Roderick Towle (October 19, 1924 ‚?? September 21, 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 in World War II.
Towle joined the Army from his birth city of Cleveland, Ohio, and by September 21, 1944 was serving as a private in Company C, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. On that day, near Oosterhout in the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden, Towle engaged a German force with his rocket launcher in an attempt to disable two enemy tanks and a half track. He was killed during the battle and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor six months later, on March 15, 1945.
Medal of Honor
Awarded for actions during the World War II
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Private John Roderick Towle, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 21 September 1944, while serving with Company C, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division, in action near Oosterhout, Holland.
The rifle company in which Private Towle served as rocket launcher gunner was occupying a defensive position in the west sector of the recently established Nijmegen bridgehead when a strong enemy force of approximately 100 infantry supported by two tanks and a half-track formed for a counterattack.
With full knowledge of the disastrous consequences resulting not only to his company but to the entire bridgehead by an enemy breakthrough, Private Towle immediately and without orders left his foxhole and moved 200 yards in the face of intense small-arms fire to a position on an exposed dike roadbed. From this precarious position Private Towle fired his rocket launcher at and hit both tanks to his immediate front. Armored skirting on both tanks prevented penetration by the projectiles, but both vehicles withdrew slightly damaged.
Still under intense fire and fully exposed to the enemy, Private Towle then engaged a nearby house which nine Germans had entered and were using as a strongpoint and with one round killed all nine. Hurriedly replenishing his supply of ammunition, Private Towle, motivated only by his high conception of duty which called for the destruction of the enemy at any cost, then rushed approximately 125 yards through grazing enemy fire to an exposed position from which he could engage the enemy half-track with his rocket launcher. While in a kneeling position preparatory to firing on the enemy vehicle, Private Towle was mortally wounded by a mortar shell.
By his heroic tenacity, at the price of his life, Private Towle saved the lives of many of his comrades and was directly instrumental in breaking up the enemy counterattack. General Orders: War Department,
General Orders No. 18 (March 15, 1945)
Action Date: 21-Sep-44
Company: Company C
Regiment: 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Division: 82d Airborne Division
Towle, aged 19 at his death, was buried at Calvary Cemetery in his hometown of Cleveland.
On October 31, 1947 the USNS Private John R. Towle (T-AK-240) was named in his honor.¬† This ship was originally named Appleton Victory.¬†¬†
Towle Fitness Center, Bastogne & Ardennes Ft. Bragg, NC was named in his honor.