GERSTUNG, ROBERT E.
Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant,
U.S. Army, Company H, 313th Infantry, 79th Infantry Division. Place and date:
Siegfried Line near Berg, Germany, 19 December 1944. Entered service at: Chicago,
Ill. Born: 6 August 1915, Chicago, Ill. G.O. No: 75, 5 September 1945.
On 19 December 1944 he was ordered with his heavy machinegun squad to the support of an
infantry company attacking the outer defense of the Siegfried Line near Berg, Germany. For
8 hours he maintained a position made almost untenable by the density of artillery and
mortar fire concentrated upon it and the proximity of enemy troops who threw hand grenades
into the emplacement. While all other members of his squad became casualties, he remained
at his gun. When he ran out of ammunition, he fearlessly dashed across bullet-swept, open
terrain to secure a new supply from a disabled friendly tank. A fierce barrage pierced the
water jacket of his gun, but he continued to fire until the weapon overheated and jammed.
Instead of withdrawing, he crawled 50 yards across coverless ground to another of his
company's machineguns which had been silenced when its entire crew was killed. He
continued to man this gun, giving support vitally needed by the infantry. At one time he
came under direct fire from a hostile tank, which shot the glove from his hand with an
armor-piercing shell but could not drive him from his position or stop his shooting. W hen
the American forces were ordered to retire to their original positions, he remained at his
gun, giving the only covering fire. Finally withdrawing, he cradled the heavy weapon in
his left arm, slung a belt of ammunition over his shoulder, and walked to the rear,
loosing small bursts at the enemy as he went. One hundred yards from safety, he was struck
in the leg by a mortar shell; but, with a supreme effort, he crawled the remaining
distance, dragging along the gun which had served him and his comrades so well. By his
remarkable perseverance, indomitable courage, and heroic devotion to his task in the face
of devastating fire, T/Sgt. Gerstung gave his fellow soldiers powerful support in their
encounter with formidable enemy forces.