Second Lieutenant Harry J. Michael
Second Lieutenant Harry J. Michael is being inducted into the OCS Hall of Fame for gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions on 14 March 1945 near Neiderzerf, Germany, where he gave his life in service to his country.
2LT Michael was born on 13 March 1922, in Benton (Elkhart County), Indiana. He was killed in action on 14 March 1945, one day after his 23rd birthday, and is buried at Violett Cemetery in Goshen, Indiana.
Harry J. Michael enlisted in the Army Reserves 31 August 1942 at the age of 20. He joined the Army Specialist Training Program 18 March 1943 to finish college at Purdue. He started Aviation Cadet Training at Sheppard Air Force Base in February 1944; started Advanced Aviation Cadet Flight Training at Santa Ana, California on 27 April 1944; he made an involuntary transfer from Army Air Forces to Infantry on 25June 1944. Arriving at Fort Benning on 21 August 1944, he remained in a replacement pool for about six weeks before starting his Infantry OCS training.
After his commissioning as an Infantry officer from the Army OCS at Fort Benning, Georgia, on 27 December 1944, Harry Michael was eventually assigned as a rifle platoon leader with Company L, 318th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division in the European Theatre.
It was during this time as a platoon leader when his company began an assault on a wooded ridge northeast of Neiderzerf, Germany, early on 13 March 1945. A short distance up the side of the hill, 2LT Michael, at the head of his platoon, heard the click of an enemy machine-gun bolt. Quietly halting the company, he silently moved off into the woods and discovered two enemy machine guns and crews. Executing a sudden charge, he completely surprised the enemy and captured the guns and crews. At daybreak, enemy voices were heard in the thick woods ahead. Leading his platoon in a flanking movement, they charged the enemy with hand grenades and, after a bitter fight, captured 25 members of a SS mountain division, three artillery pieces, and 20 horses.
While his company was establishing its position, 2LT Michael made two personal reconnaissance missions of the wooded area on his leFort flank. On his first mission he killed two, wounded four, and captured six enemy soldiers singlehandedly. On the second mission he captured seven prisoners.
During the afternoon 2LT Michael led his platoon on a frontal assault of a line of enemy pillboxes, successfully capturing the objective, killing 10 and capturing 30 prisoners. The following morning the company was subjected to sniper fire, and 2LT Michael, in an attempt to find the hidden sniper, was shot and killed. The inspiring leadership and heroic aggressiveness displayed by 2LT Harry J. Michael upheld the finest traditions of the military service and the Infantry School credo of “Follow Me.” 2LT Michael's awards and decorations include the Medal of Honor, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Marksmanship Badge, American Campaign Medal, Army Presidential Unit Citation, Army Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal.