The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
SCHAEFER, JOSEPH E.
Rank and Organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army,
Company I, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and Date Near Stolberg,
Germany, 24 September 1944. Entered Service at: Long Island, N.Y. Birth: New
York, N.Y. G.O. No.: 71, 22 August 1945.
He was in charge of a squad of the 2d Platoon in the vicinity of Stolberg, Germany, early
in the morning of 24 September 1944, when 2 enemy companies supported by machineguns
launched an attack to seize control of an important crossroads which was defended by his
platoon. One American squad was forced back, another captured, leaving only S/Sgt.
Schaefer's men to defend the position. To shift his squad into a house which would afford
better protection, he crawled about under heavy small-arms and machinegun fire, instructed
each individual, and moved to the building. A heavy concentration of enemy artillery fire
scored hits on his strong point. S/Sgt. Schaefer assigned his men to positions and
selected for himself the most dangerous one at the door. With his Ml rifle, he broke the
first wave of infantry thrown toward the house. The Germans attacked again with grenades
and flame throwers but were thrown back a second time, S/Sgt. Schaefer killing and
wounding several. Regrouped for a final assault, the Germans approached from 2 directions.
One force drove at the house from the front, while a second group advanced stealthily
along a hedgerow. Recognizing the threat, S/Sgt. Schaefer fired rapidly at the enemy
before him, killing or wounding all 6; then, with no cover whatever, dashed to the
hedgerow and poured deadly accurate shots into the second group, killing 5, wounding 2
others, and forcing the enemy to withdraw. He scoured the area near his battered
stronghold and captured 10 prisoners. By this time the rest of his company had begun a
counterattack; he moved forward to assist another platoon to regain its position.
Remaining in the lead, crawling and running in the face of heavy fire, he overtook the
enemy, and liberated the American squad captured earlier in the battle. In all,
single-handed and armed only with his rifle, he killed between 15 and 20 Germans, wounded
at least as many more, and took 10 prisoners. S/Sgt. Schaefer's indomitable courage and
his determination to hold his position at all costs were responsible for stopping an enemy