Joseph A. Toth, E Company, 16th Infantry, enlisted before Pearl Harbor and served until the end of the war in Europe. He was decorated three times for gallantry with the Silver Star and two Oak Leaf Clusters.
His first Silver Star was awarded for his actions in Troina, Sicily (see article below). His second OLC was awarded for his actions on D-Day, 1944. His third OLC was awarded for action near Hamich, Germany, in the Hürtgen Forest (see citation below)
All information courtesy Edward Bonk.
The text below is an undated article from a Scranton, Pennsylvania newspaper.
The newspaper photo caption (for photo at right) read, Tech. Sgt. Joseph A. Toth awarded the Silver Star
Tech. Sgt. Toth Is Decorated for Gallantry
Tech. Sgt. Joseph A. Toth, son of Stephen Toth, 1708 Clearview St., has been awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action Aug. 3, 1943, in the vicinity of Troina.
“During a bitter engagement with the enemy,” said his citation, “Sergeant Toth boldly proceeded to an exposed position and directed harassing fire on the attacking forces to permit his company to reorganize and evacuate its casualties. His dauntless courage and aggressive spirit, despite intense mortar and small arms activities, were instrumental in saving many lives.”
Sergeant Toth enlisted in the Army in 1940, and has been in the European theater of operations since nearly the beginning of the war. He took part in the African and Sicilian campaigns, and landed in France on D-Day. He has not been home in over three years.
A brother, Coxswain Louis S. Toth has been stationed for the past year in the Pacific area with the American fleet.
Citation for Oak Leaf Cluster to Silver Star
Joseph A. Toth, 13024936, Technical Sergeant, Company E, 16th Infantry. For gallantry in action in the vicinity of Hamich, Germany, 24-25 November 1944. During a fierce attack against fortified enemy positions, Sergeant Toth fearlessly exposed himself to an intense artillery, machine-gun, and small-arms barrage and led his men in the assault. When the group was checked by direct automatic fire, Sergeant Toth courageously charged a hostile strongpoint and in hand-to-hand combat destroyed the enemy gun crew, thereby enabling his unit to continue its advance and attain the objective. Residence at enlistment: Scranton, Pennsylvania.
A Note from War Chronicle on the Hürtgen Forest
It’s an understatement that gallantry in the Hürtgen Forest is especially remarkable given the miserable conditions under which the men were fighting. And keep in mind that Toth (like Colson, Streczyk, Colwell, and others of E Company) had already fought hard through the arid plains of North Africa, the rock of Sicily, and the hedgerows of Normandy. It is almost unimaginable how men found the strength to keep moving, let alone rise to heroism yet again. Yet that is what Sergeant Toth did.
The best full account of the Hürtgen is by former WWII infantryman,Charles B. MacDonald in The Siegfried Line Campaign (Washington, D.C.: United States Army in World War II: The European Theater of Operations, 1984). This is how he described a day’s work at the time of Toth’s actions. Try putting yourself in his place.
The operation was monotonously the same. You attacked strongpoint after strongpoint built around log pillboxes, scattered mines, foxholes, and barbed wire. You longed for tank support but seldom got it. You watched your comrades cut down by shells bursting in the trees. Drenched by cold rain, you slipped and slithered in ankle-deep mud. Every advance brought its counterattack. When dusk approached you stopped early in order to dig in and thatch your foxhole with logs before night brought German infiltration and more shellfire. The [infantry] nonetheless made steady progress.