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Dwite H. Schaffner (November 5, 1889 ‚?? November 22, 1955) was a soldier in the United States Army who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the World War I.
Dwite Schaffner was born November 5, 1889 in Arroya, PA.¬† He was the son of Perry and Rosa Schaffner, owners of a furniture store in Falls Creek, PA.
After graduating from high school, Dwite worked for two years as a boilermaker in Dubois, PA to earn money for college.¬† He attended Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA from 1911 to 1916, earning a Bachelor's of Arts Degree and Masters of Philosophy.
Dwite played varsity football and basketball for four years and was captain of the football team once and the basketball team twice.¬† He played center on the football team.¬†
After graduating from Bucknell, he enrolled in law school at the University of Michigan.¬† World War I interrupted his law education.¬† Since he was a college graduate he was sent to Ft. Niagra in upstate New York in August 1917 to attend four months of ROTC training.
After completing ROTC training at Ft. Niagrara, Dwite was sent to Camp Upton on Long Island, NY for additional training in trench warfare.¬† He arrived in November 1917 and was sent to France in April 1918 with the rank of 1st Lieutenant.¬† Camp Upton was the home of the soon to be famous 77th Division and Dwite's 306th Infantry Battalion.
The 77th Division was organized at Camp Upton, Yaphank, NY on August 25, 1917¬† It attained it's greatest fame in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.¬† During this campaign soldiers of the "Lost Battalion," which consisted of elements of the 306th, 307th, 308th infantry battalions made their historic 3-day stand against overwhelming German forces.¬† Of the 679 menin the battalion, only 252 survived the ordeal.
During its 68 days in combat, the division fought in four campaigns - Baccarat, Oise Aisne, Aisne-Marne, and Meuse-Argonne.¬† Official records show no nother American Division advanced closer to the German frontier than the front line of the 77th.¬† At the end of the campaign, the division counted 2,375 men killed or reported missing and 7,302 wounded.
An act of heroism in battle earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor, an event that would shape the rest of his life.
From the book The History of the 306th Infantry.¬† "We wanted more ground, and although the front line had not yet been coordinated, Lieutenant Schaffner, of Company K, saw the enemy, andwithout waiting for support, attacked at St. Hubert's Pavilioin.¬† The staccato, rat-tat-tat of enemy machine-guns immediately sounded all along the sector and Boche artillery shells rained about us.¬† Men fell, here and there, as, shrapnel pellets caught them, but nothing deterred K Company and after an hour of hand-to-hand fighting they succeeded in driving the enemy from their strong position.¬† Again K Company distinguished itself when the Boche made three counter-attacks.¬† It was, however, aminly because of Lieutenant Schaffner's courageous leadership that a machine-gun was silenced and many prisoners taken.¬† Here the Germans worked probably the wiliest trick ever played against the Regiment.¬† A detachment approached K Company holding up their hands and crying, "Kamerad!" and when they had almost reached out lines the enemy attacking wave appeared behing them using pistols, rifles and hand grenades, which caused heavy casualties among our men.¬† Lieutenant Schaffner ran forward, seized the Boche captain, shot him and dragged him back to the trench.¬† His conduct was superb and greatly inspired his men.¬† He very deservedly won the coveted Medal of Honor for his conspicuous gallantry.¬† This was the first and only Medal of Honor waon by the Regiment and no Medal of Honor man performed a more gallant act than that¬† of Lieutenant Schaffner.¬† The first Medal of Honor in the Division and another honor for the 306th.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 306th Infantry, 77th Division. Place and date: Near St. Hubert's Pavilion, Boureuilles, France, September 28, 1918. Entered service at: Falls Creek, Pa. Birth: Arroya, Pa. G.O. No.: 15, W.D., 1923.
Citation: He led his men in an attack on St. Hubert's Pavillion through terrific enemy machinegun, rifle, and artillery fire and drove the enemy from a strongly held entrenched position after hand-to-hand fighting. His bravery and contempt for danger inspired his men, enabling them to hold fast in the face of 3 determined enemy counterattacks. His company's position being exposed to enemy fire from both flanks, he made 3 efforts to locate an enemy machinegun which had caused heavy casualties. On his third reconnaissance he discovered the gun position and personally silenced the gun, killing or wounding the crew. The third counterattack made by the enemy was initiated by the appearance of a small detachment in advance of the enemy attacking wave. When almost within reach of the American front line the enemy appeared behind them, attacking vigorously with pistols, rifles, and handgrenades, causing heavy casualties in the American platoon. 1st Lt. Schaffner mounted the parapet of the trench and used his pistol and grenades killing a number of enemy soldiers, finally reaching the enemy officer leading the attacking forces, a captain, shooting and mortally wounding the latter with his pistol, and dragging the captured officer back to the company's trench, securing from him valuable information as to the enemy's strength and position. The information enabled 1st Lt. Schaffner to maintain for 5 hours the advanced position of his company despite the fact that it was surrounded on 3 sides by strong enemy forces. The undaunted bravery, gallant soldierly conduct, and leadership displayed by 1st Lt. Schaffner undoubtedly saved the survivors of the company from death or capture.
Dwite spent 5 months in the hospital in France recovering from the effects of a gas attack.¬† He returned to the U.S. in April 1919.¬† He then returned to UM in 1919 to complete his education and earn a LLP degree.¬† After graduation he moved to Akron, Ohio.¬†
On April 4, 1923 the War Department sent a letter to Dwite informing him that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor.¬† A Civil War Medal of Honor recipient and fellow pennsylvanian, John C. Matthews, was also in attendance at the ceremony.
On Wednesday September 5, 1923 he married Miss Elma Grace Bliss at the home of here parents, Charles and Grace Bliss.
On September 23, 1923 Dwite was presented the Medal of Honor.¬† Over 3000 people witnessed the ceremony held at Wooseter Stadium in Akron, Ohio.
In Akron he raised a family while keeping actively involved with affairs of the VFW and American Legion.¬† He became a member of the VFW in 1923 and in 1937 he was elected State Commander fo the Ohio VFW during the annual encampment held in Toledo, OH.¬† He also held posts as the Commander of the Thomas B. Welker VFW Post and Aide de Camp to the VFW National Commander.¬† In the American Legion he was the Commander of American Legion Post 19.
Dwite was admitted to the bar in 1920, he practiced law wiht the firm of Musser Kimber & Huffman, and then formed a partnership with Charles Evans that lasted until his death.¬† He was an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting and fishing, and he kept several trained hunting dogs.
Although a native of Pennsylvania, he was adopted by Akron as their war hero; a term used often by the newspapers and for a time, was considered the only living Medal of Honor recipient in Ohio.¬† His popularity was such that he was the grand marshal of 4th of July parades and a fixture at annual Veterans and Memorial Day events until his death.¬†
As World War II approched, Dwite publicly urged neutrality, but when the war became inevitable, he returned to military service.¬† He moved to Nashville, Tennessee for three and a half years to work for the Selective Service Board.¬† When the war ended he left the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Dwite died suddenly from a heart attack while at work on November 22, 1955.¬† About 300 people joined in a final tribute to him.¬† Participants included two VFW speakers, a Navy firing squad, and a 37th Division color guard.¬† MOurners included an accused holdup man who had gained freedom the previous month through the persistent efforts of Dwite.¬† Visitation was held at the Billow Funeral Chapel, services were held at the First Methodist Church at 2 P.M., and burial was in Rose Hill Burial Park (Cemetery), Fairlawn, Ohio.
His military legacy lives on in the form of an Army Reserve training center named in his honor in Akron, Ohio.¬† He has also been recognized by his alma mater, Bucknell University for both his military and sports achievements.¬†