BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D. Gerry H. Kisters was born on March 2, 1919 in Salt Lake City Utah. He moved with his family to Indiana, and it was there he married Nola Eads, had four children and in 1943 joined the Army.
On July 31, 1943 Kisters was serving in the 2nd Armored Division. On that day, near Gagliano, Sicily, Kisters (who was a Sergeant at that time), an officer, and nine enlisted men captured an enemy machine gun position and the enemy crew of four.
The greater part of the remaining small arms fire was now directed on the captured machinegun position, Sgt. Kisters voluntarily advanced alone toward the second gun emplacement.
Kisters while moving forward was wounded not once or twice but five times. Despite his wounds he was able to capture the second machine gun emplacement. He killed three of the enemy and the fourth ran away. The courage that Kister showed and his willingness to sacrifice his life, if necessary, served as an inspiration to the command.
Kisters received a battlefield promotion to second lieutenant.
He was presented his Medal of Honor on February 8, 1944 at the White House by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Previously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, he was the first American soldier in World War II to be awarded both medals.
At the end of his remarkable Army career, Kisters opened Kisters Furs in Bloomington, Indiana. He became an expert furrier as well as one of Bloomington’s leading businessmen.
The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
KISTERS, GERRY H.
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant (then Sergeant), U.S. Army, 2d Armored Division. Place and date: Near Gagliano, Sicily, 31 July 1943. Entered service at: Bloomington, Ind. Birth: Salt Lake City, Utah. G.O. No: 13, 18 February 1944.
On 31 July 1943, near Gagliano, Sicily, a detachment of 1 officer and 9 enlisted men, including Sgt. Kisters, advancing ahead of the leading elements of U.S. troops to fill a large crater in the only available vehicle route through Gagliano, was taken under fire by 2 enemy machineguns. Sgt. Kisters and the officer, unaided and in the face of intense small arms fire, advanced on the nearest machinegun emplacement and succeeded in capturing the gun and its crew of 4. Although the greater part of the remaining small arms fire was now directed on the captured machinegun position, Sgt. Kisters voluntarily advanced alone toward the second gun emplacement. While creeping forward, he was struck 5 times by enemy bullets, receiving wounds in both legs and his right arm. Despite the wounds, he continued to advance on the enemy, and captured the second machinegun after killing 3 of its crew and forcing the fourth member to flee. The courage of this soldier and his unhesitating willingness to sacrifice his life, if necessary, served as an inspiration to the command.
1st Lt. Gerry H. Kisters died on May 11, 1986 and was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery, Bloomington Indiana, US, Plot: Section G, Lot 74.
The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.