BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D. Joseph E. Muller was born on June 23, 1908, at Holyoke, Massachusetts. While doing the research for this article, I discovered an interesting fact: Holyoke, with a population of less than 40,000 has produced three Medal of Honor recipients.
Muller was in his early thirties when he joined the U.S. Army from New York City in March 1942.
By May of 1945 he had risen to the rank of Sergeant and was serving with Company B, 305th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division. His unit was involved in an intense battle near the town of Ishimmi on Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands.
During the battle, Muller exposed himself to intense enemy fire and charged the Japanese positions alone. In the morning when the Japanese tried to retake their position, Muller once again charged them and drove them back.
As the Japanese soldiers were retreating, one of them threw a grenade that landed in the foxhole that he was sharing with two others. He immediately threw his body on the grenade and absorbed the force of the blast. The explosion killed him but his selfless act saved the lives of his two comrades.
On July 17, 1946, Muller was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Medal Of Honor Citation
Joseph E Muller
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Sergeant Joseph E. Muller, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on May 15 and 16, 1945, while serving with Company B, 305th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division, in action at Ishimmi, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands. When his platoon was stopped by deadly fire from a strongly defended ridge, Sergeant Muller directed men to points where they could cover his attack. Then through the vicious machinegun and automatic fire, crawling forward alone, he suddenly jumped up, hurled his grenades, charged the enemy, and drove them into the open where his squad shot them down. Seeing enemy survivors about to man a machinegun, he fired his rifle at point-blank range, hurled himself upon them, and killed the remaining four. Before dawn the next day, the enemy counterattacked fiercely to retake the position. Sergeant Muller crawled forward through the flying bullets and explosives, then leaping to his feet, hurling grenades and firing his rifle, he charged the Japs and routed them. As he moved into his foxhole shared with two other men, a lone enemy, who had been feigning death, threw a grenade. Quickly seeing the danger to his companions, Sergeant Muller threw himself over it and smothered the blast with his body, heroically sacrificing his life to save his comrades, he upheld the highest traditions of the military service.
General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 71, July 17, 1946
Action Date: May 15 & 16, 1945
Company: Company B
Regiment: 305th Infantry Regiment
Division: 77th Infantry Division
Muller is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu Hawaii, Plot Section N, Grave 1259.
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.