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Orville Emil Bloch
CONFLICT
World War II
BIRTHPLACE OR PLACE OF RESIDENCE
Big Falls
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            Orville Emil Bloch joined the US Army from Streeter, North Dakota, in 1942.  Though he started as a private, Bloch had earned the rank of 1st Lieutenant (1st Lt.) and served with Company E of the 338th Infantry, 85th Infantry Division by 1944.

            On September 22, 1944, 1st Lt. Bloch and his unit were fighting in northern Italy near Firenzuola.  Their advance had been held up by five enemy machine guns, so Bloch chose three volunteers from his platoon to take care of them.  As they approached the buildings that held the machine guns, Bloch had the men with him stay behind a large rock, close enough that they could come assist if he needed them.  By himself, Bloch rushed the first emplacement despite the automatic fire aimed at him, kicked the machine gun over and captured the five Germans manning the gun.  Advancing to the next machine gun fifteen yards away, Bloch held an unpinned grenade in his hand in preparation for destroying the gun.  In spite of the bullets flying past him, Bloch came close enough to the gun to throw the grenade at it, injuring one soldier and causing the other two to flee into the building behind the gun.  At this point, Bloch called for the men he left behind the rock and together they continued around the building the Germans had fled into, alert for any other enemy soldiers.  As they rounded the building, Bloch and his patrol came across another machine gun crew moving their position into the building.  Bloch and those with him opened fire on the crew, causing them to drop the machine gun and race into the safety of the house.  However, it was not safe for long, as Bloch rushed in right after the Germans.  Using his carbine (short rifle), Bloch captured the seven occupants in the room, wounding only three of them.  Leaving one man to guard the captured Germans, 1st Lt. Bloch and the others exited the building to scope out another building in the area.  Within this house, Bloch and those with him discovered an abandoned machine gun, but, hearing the sound of machine gun fire, continued their way to another corner of the building where they discovered the source of the noise.  The Germans and Bloch spotted each other at the same time, but that did not cause Bloch to hesitate.  While pistols fired wildly around him, Bloch followed the crew through another doorway before wounding two of the men with his carbine and ultimately capturing all six.  In total, 1st Lt. Bloch destroyed five machine gun emplacements, and captured nineteen German soldiers, of which six had been injured.  Bloch's actions inspired his men and allowed them to continue their assault.  For this, Bloch earned the Medal of Honor.

            After WWII, Bloch continued with the military and served during the Korean War before retiring in 1970 as a Colonel.  Bloch died in 1983 and is buried at a cemetery in Seattle, Washington.

 

Sources Consulted:

            Army Website, Medal of Honor Recipients, WWII

            The National Archives, Access to Archival Databases, Enlistment Records

            Find a Grave, Memorials

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Orville Emil Bloch
Army
World War II
Big Falls
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8079707 113441046936
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