The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
*KELLEY, JONAH E.
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S.
Army, 311th Infantry, 78th Infantry Division. Place and date: Kesternich, Germany,
3031 January 1945. Entered service at: Keyser, W. Va. Birth:
Rada, W. Va. G.O.
No: 77, 10 September 1945.
In charge of the leading squad of Company E, he heroically spearheaded the attack in
furious house-to-house fighting. Early on 30 January, he led his men through intense
mortar and small arms fire in repeated assaults on barricaded houses. Although twice
wounded, once when struck in the back, the second time when a mortar shell fragment passed
through his left hand and rendered it practically useless, he refused to withdraw and
continued to lead his squad after hasty dressings had been applied. His serious wounds
forced him to fire his rifle with 1 hand, resting it on rubble or over his left forearm.
To blast his way forward with hand grenades, he set aside his rifle to pull the pins with
his teeth while grasping the missiles with his good hand. Despite these handicaps, he
created tremendous havoc in the enemy ranks. He rushed l house, killing 3 of the enemy and
clearing the way for his squad to advance. On approaching the next house, he was fired
upon from an upstairs window. He killed the sniper with a single shot and similarly
accounted for another enemy soldier who ran from the cellar of the house. As darkness
came, he assigned his men to defensive positions, never leaving them to seek medical
attention. At dawn the next day, the squad resumed the attack, advancing to a point where
heavy automatic and small arms fire stalled them. Despite his wounds, S/Sgt. Kelley moved
out alone, located an enemy gunner dug in under a haystack and killed him with rifle fire.
He returned to his men and found that a German machinegun, from a well-protected position
in a neighboring house, still held up the advance. Ordering the squad to remain in
comparatively safe positions, he valiantly dashed into the open and attacked the position
single-handedly through a hail of bullets. He was hit several times and fell to his knees
when within 25 yards of his objective; but he summoned his waning strength and emptied his
rifle into the machinegun nest, silencing the weapon before he died. The superb courage,
aggressiveness, and utter disregard for his own safety displayed by S/Sgt. Kelley inspired
the men he led and enabled them to penetrate the last line of defense held by the enemy in
the village of Kesternich .