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Robert E. Roeder (July 25, 1917-September 28, 1944) was a captain in the U.S. Army who received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during World War II, during which he was killed in action. Roeder is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Born in Summit Station on July 25, 1917, Robert E. Roeder had just¬†passed his 27th birthday and his eighth year in the armed forces when the Germans launched one of a series of determined counter-attacks on Mount Battaglia, Italy.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and Organization: Captain, U.S. Army, Company G, 350th Infantry, 88th Infantry Division. Place and Date Mt. Battaglia, Italy, 27‚??28 September 1944. Entered Service at: Summit Station, Pa. Birth: Summit Station, Pa. G.O. No.: 31, 17 April 1945.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Roeder commanded his company in defense of the strategic Mount Battaglia. Shortly after the company had occupied the hill, the Germans launched the first of a series of determined counterattacks to regain this dominating height. Completely exposed to ceaseless enemy artillery and small-arms fire, Capt. Roeder constantly circulated among his men, encouraging them and directing their defense against the persistent enemy. During the sixth counterattack, the enemy, by using flamethrowers and taking advantage of the fog, succeeded in overrunning the position Capt. Roeder led his men in a fierce battle at close quarters, to repulse the attack with heavy losses to the Germans. The following morning, while the company was engaged in repulsing an enemy counterattack in force, Capt. Roeder was seriously wounded and rendered unconscious by shell fragments. He was carried to the company command post, where he regained consciousness. Refusing medical treatment, he insisted on rejoining his men although in a weakened condition, Capt. Roeder dragged himself to the door of the command post and, picking up a rifle, braced himself in a sitting position. He began firing his weapon, shouted words of encouragement, and issued orders to his men. He personally killed 2 Germans before he himself was killed instantly by an exploding shell. Through Capt. Roeder's able and intrepid leadership his men held Mount Battaglia against the aggressive and fanatical enemy attempts to retake this important and strategic height. His valorous performance is exemplary of the fighting spirit of the U.S. Army.
Roeder was born and raised in Summit Station and graduated from Schuylkill Haven High School in 1935.¬† He enlisted in the service in 1936, was stationed at Fort Meade until 1939 and was at Pearl Harbor at the time of the infamous attack.¬† He was sent to OCS at Fort Benning, Ga., commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry in June, 1942.¬† He
went overseas in 1943 and became a captain April 27, 1944, in the North African Theatre of Operations.
His mother, Mrs. Cora Roeder, received his citation at Carlisle Barracks, on May 12, 1945.¬† In Austria, a camp was named for Captain Robert E. Roeder, on of Schuylkill County's gallant fighting men of World War II.
The 350th Regiment of the 88th "Blue Devils" Division was called the "Battle Mountain Regiment".¬† They earned this name for their stand to hold a 2,345-foot hill in Italy called Monte Battaglia, which the GI's referred to as "Battle Mountain".¬† On Monte Battalglia, the 350th Regiment stood off the enemy from Sept 28 - Oct. 5, although "exposed on three sides, denied air and ground observation, under terrific artillery and mortar barrages, and hampered by bad weather which made supply nearly impossible."¬† A number of officers and men received awards of DSC, Silver Star, and Bronze Star.¬† For its stand there, the 2nd Battalion was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation.¬† When the British 1st Guards Brigade relieved the 350th Regiment, all officers of Company G had either been killed or wounded and the company was down to only 50 men.
The worst of it appeared to hit Company G, whose commander, Capt. Robert E. Roeder, led his men in a desperate hand-to-hand struggle against Germans swarming over the positions. When Roeder fell, seriously wounded, his men carried him to his command post in the shelter of the ancient ruin. After allowing an aid man to dress his wounds, Captain Roeder dragged himself to the entrance of the old building. Bracing himself in a sitting position, he picked up a rifle from a nearby fallen soldier and opened fire on attacking Germans closing in on his position. He killed two Germans before a fragment from a mortar shell cut him down. Encouraged by their captain's example, the men of Company G rallied to drive the enemy off the summit and back down Monte Battaglia's slopes.