BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D. – Anthony Peter Damato was born on March 28, 1922, in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. He was educated in the elementary and high schools of Shenandoah. After finishing High School he worked as a truck driver until he joined the Marine Corps in January 1942. After completing boot camp Damato was posted to Derry, Northern Ireland in May of that year.
During the first year of active duty, Damato was to show an example of things to come. He distinguished himself by volunteering for special duty with a special invasion party that took part in the North African landings.
As a result of his meritorious conduct in action while serving aboard ship at the port city of Arzew, Algeria, on November 8, 1942, he was promoted. Landing with an assault wave entering the port from seaward, he assisted in boarding and seizing vessels in the harbor, and ultimately the port itself. He returned to the United States in March 1943, and three months later sailed for duty in the Pacific.
Damato was serving with an assault company of the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Marines, 5th Amphibious Corps, on Engebi Island, Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands when on the night of February 19–20, 1944, while in a foxhole with two companions, he threw himself upon an enemy grenade, absorbing the explosion with his body and was instantly killed.
On April 9, 1945, the tiny mining community of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania turned out en masse to pay homage to Corporal Damato at the presentation ceremonies for the Medal of Honor. The presentation was made to his mother by Marine Corps Brigadier General M. C. Gregory at Cooper High School, where Cpl Damato had been a student.
Corporal Damato was initially buried in the Temporary American Cemetery on Kiririan Island in the Marshall Islands. Later, his remains were reinterred in the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Corporal Anthony P. Damato is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific Section A Grave 334.
Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
CORPORAL ANTHONY P. DAMATO
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with an assault company of the Second Battalion, Twenty-Second Marines, Fifth Amphibious Corps, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Eniwetok Atoll Marshall Islands, on the night of February 19,-20, 1944. Highly vulnerable to sudden attack by small, fanatical groups of Japanese still at large despite the efficient and determined efforts of our forces to clear the area, Corporal Damato lay with two comrades in a large foxhole in his company’s defense perimeter which had been dangerously thinned by the forced withdrawal of nearly half of the available men. When one of the enemy approached the foxhole undetected and threw in a hand grenade, Corporal Damato desperately groped for it in the darkness. Realizing the imminent peril to all three and fully aware of the consequences of his act, he unhesitatingly flung himself on the grenade and, although instantly killed as his body absorbed the explosion, saved the lives of his two companions. Corporal Damato’s splendid initiative, fearless conduct and valiant sacrifice reflect great upon himself and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his comrades.
/S/FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
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.