June 10, 2010

Virginia Guard Medal of Honor recipient from Charlottesville remembered 66 years later

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

BLACKSTONE, Va. — The Virginia National Guard remembered the service and sacrifice of Tech. Sgt. Frank D. Peregory, a Charlottesville native who earned the Medal of Honor following the D-Day Invasion, with a rededication ceremony for the barracks and administrative building complex named in his honor. The Guard unveiled a new sign for the area in a ceremony held at Fort Pickett, June 8, 66 years after the actions that earned him the nation’s highest award for valor.

 

Former Lieutenant Carl "Chubby" Proffit, a World War II veteran who served in Company K with Frank D. Peregory, promotes Brandon Michael Sweet, a Soldier from the Charlottesville-based Company A, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, to private first class. Proffit was a technical sergeant on D-Day and received a battlefield commission two months later. By the end of the war, Proffit had earned three Purple Hearts, two Bronze Star Medals, a Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) 

Click HERE to see more photos from the event.

“Today we rededicate a historical marker to a hero, to a brigade and to a division,” said Col. Tom Wilkinson, commander of Fort Pickett.

Peregory was a sergeant in Company K, 116th Infantry, 29th Infantry Division and on June 6, 1944, he landed with the 116th on Omaha Beach as part of the Normandy invasion. According to his Medal of Honor citation, on June 8, the 3rd Battalion of the 116th Infantry was advancing on the strongly held German defenses at Grandcampe, France, when the leading elements were stopped by heavy machinegun fire from an enemy force on the high ground overlooking the town.

Peregory took it upon himself to move on the position where he encountered a squad of enemy riflemen and proceeded to attack them with hand grenades and bayonet, killing eight and forcing three to surrender. He continued to engage the enemy, forcing 32 more to surrender and opened the way for the rest of the battalion to advance and secure its objective. For his actions that day, he received the Medal of Honor.

Peregory was killed six days later fighting in the hedgerows and was aware he had been recommended for the medal.  He is buried at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France.

Even before his bravery earned him the Medal of Honor, Peregory demonstrated his willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty. Just after the Pearl Harbor attack, Soldiers from the 116th were patrolling the beaches of North Carolina for possible German saboteurs coming from submarines and Peregory rescued a fellow Soldier from drowning. In recognition of his timely action and disregard of danger to himself, he was awarded the Soldier's Medal, the highest award that a Soldier can receive for a non-combat incident.

“I have no doubt that if placed in similar situations today, many of our Soldiers would willingly follow the example of these heroes and place themselves in harms way to safeguard their comrades and complete the mission,” said Brig. Gen. Frank Batts, commander of the 29th Infantry Division.

In 1982, Fort Pickett broke ground the "Peregory Complex" in his honor, and it opened in 1984. The new sign unveiled June 8 features a base of sand that is 116 square feet in honor of the 116th Infantry Regiment and features a 29th Infantry Division patch that is 29 inches in diameter.

Soldiers from the Charlottesville-based Company A, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, fired a gun salute in Peregory’s honor.

 

Brig. Gen. Frank Batts, commander of the 29th Infantry Division, and Col. Tom Wilkinson, commander of Fort Pickett, unveil the new sign honoring the service and sacrifice of Tech. Sgt. Frank D. Peregory, a Charlottesville native who earned the Medal of Honor following the D-Day Invasion, as part of a rededication ceremony for the barracks and administrative building complex named in his honor. The Guard unveiled a new sign for area in a ceremony held at Fort Pickett, June 8, 66 years after the actions that earned him the nation’s highest award for valor. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event.

Former Lieutenant Carl "Chubby" Proffit was the special guest at the rededication. Proffit was a close friend to Peregory and the two served together in Company K. He said he was 30 feet from Peregory when he was killed in action.

Proffit was a technical sergeant on D-Day and received a battlefield commission two months later. By the end of the war, Proffit had earned three Purple Hearts, two Bronze Star Medals, a Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross.

After the ceremony Proffit promoted Brandon Michael Sweet of Keezletown to private first class. “It is pretty cool to be promoted by a World War II vet,” Sweet said. “It is something special to me. I feel like he has passed some of his honor to me, and I can carry it on when I deploy.”

After being presented with a special 3rd Battalion coin from former battalion commander Lt. Col. Bill Zana, Proffit shared his D-Day experience with Soldiers while they ate lunch. Soldiers from Company A are at Fort Pickett conducting their annual training.

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Medal of Honor Citation - PEREGORY, FRANK D.

Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company K 116th Infantry, 29th Infantry Division. Place and date: Grandcampe France, 8 June 1944. Entered service at: Charlottesville, Va. Born. 10 April 1915, Esmont, Va. G.O. No.: 43, 30 May 1945. Citation: On 8 June 1944, the 3d Battalion of the 116th Infantry was advancing on the strongly held German defenses at Grandcampe, France, when the leading elements were suddenly halted by decimating machinegun fire from a firmly entrenched enemy force on the high ground overlooking the town. After numerous attempts to neutralize the enemy position by supporting artillery and tank fire had proved ineffective, T/Sgt. Peregory, on his own initiative, advanced up the hill under withering fire, and worked his way to the crest where he discovered an entrenchment leading to the main enemy fortifications 200 yards away. Without hesitating, he leaped into the trench and moved toward the emplacement. Encountering a squad of enemy riflemen, he fearlessly attacked them with handgrenades and bayonet, killed 8 and forced 3 to surrender. Continuing along the trench, he single-handedly forced the surrender of 32 more riflemen, captured the machine gunners, and opened the way for the leading elements of the battalion to advance and secure its objective. The extraordinary gallantry and aggressiveness displayed by T/Sgt. Peregory are exemplary of the highest tradition of the armed forces.

http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/wwII-m-s.html

Peregory Rededication:
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