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KERSTETTER, DEXTER

kerstetter dexter

He was with his unit in a dawn attack against hill positions appoachable only along a narrow ridge paralleled on each side by steep cliffs which were heavily defended by enemy mortars, machine guns, and rifles in well-camouflaged spider holes and tunnels leading to caves. When the leading element was halted by intense fire that inflicted five casualties, Pfc. Kerstetter passed through the American line with his squad. Placing himself well in advance of his men, he grimly worked his way up the narrow steep hogback, meeting the brunt of enemy action. With well-aimed shots and rifle-grenade fire, he forced the Japs to take cover. He left the trail and, moving down a cliff that offered only precarious footholds, dropped among four Japs at the entrance to a cave, fired his rifle from his hip, and killed them all. Climbing back to the trail, he advanced against heavy enemy machine-gun, rifle, and mortar fire to silence a heavy machine gun by killing its crew of four with rifle fire and grenades. He expended his remaining ammunition and grenades on a group of approximately 20 Japs, scattering them, and returned to his squad for more ammunition and first aid for his left hand, which had been blistered by the heat from his rifle. Resupplied, he guided a fresh platoon into a position from which a concerted attack could be launched, killing three hostile soldiers on the way. In all, he dispatched 16 Japs that day. The hill was taken and held against the enemy's counterattacks, which continued for three days. Pfc. Kerstetter's dauntless and gallant heroism was largely responsible for the capture of this key enemy position, and his fearless attack in the face of great odds was an inspiration to his comrades in their dangerous task.

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Service

Rank

Division

U.S. Army Private First Class Company C, 130th Infantry, 33d Infantry Division

Conflict

Year of honor

born

World War Two 1945 Centralia, Lewis County, Washington

Citation

He was with his unit in a dawn attack against hill positions appoachable only along a narrow ridge paralleled on each side by steep cliffs which were heavily defended by enemy mortars, machine guns, and rifles in well-camouflaged spider holes and tunnels leading to caves. When the leading element was halted by intense fire that inflicted five casualties, Pfc. Kerstetter passed through the American line with his squad. Placing himself well in advance of his men, he grimly worked his way up the narrow steep hogback, meeting the brunt of enemy action. With well-aimed shots and rifle-grenade fire, he forced the Japs to take cover. He left the trail and, moving down a cliff that offered only precarious footholds, dropped among four Japs at the entrance to a cave, fired his rifle from his hip, and killed them all. Climbing back to the trail, he advanced against heavy enemy machine-gun, rifle, and mortar fire to silence a heavy machine gun by killing its crew of four with rifle fire and grenades. He expended his remaining ammunition and grenades on a group of approximately 20 Japs, scattering them, and returned to his squad for more ammunition and first aid for his left hand, which had been blistered by the heat from his rifle. Resupplied, he guided a fresh platoon into a position from which a concerted attack could be launched, killing three hostile soldiers on the way. In all, he dispatched 16 Japs that day. The hill was taken and held against the enemy's counterattacks, which continued for three days. Pfc. Kerstetter's dauntless and gallant heroism was largely responsible for the capture of this key enemy position, and his fearless attack in the face of great odds was an inspiration to his comrades in their dangerous task.