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Vittori- Rocci Post # 56

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Historical data - Joe Vittori

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Corporal Joseph Vittori (August 1, 1929 – September 16, 1951) was a 22-year old United States Marine who was killed in action during the Korean War. For his heroic actions during the assault on Hill 749 near Songnea-dong, Korea on the night of September 15–16, 1951, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. He was fatally wounded while fighting off an enemy breakthrough at a gap in his battalion’s lines. He was the 19th Marine to earn the nation’s highest decoration for heroism in Korea.

Medal of Honor actions

The action occurred on Hill 749, where Cpl Vittori’s company was assaulting well-entrenched Chinese Communist positions. A vicious enemy counterattack drove back a forward platoon with heavy casualties, and Cpl Vittori, with two other volunteers from his reserve platoon, dashed into hand to hand combact in the midst of the swarming enemy to give the Marine company time to consolidate its positions.

Later, when a call went up for an automatic rifleman to defend an isolated heavy machine gun position on the flank of his company’s sector, Cpl Vittori again volunteered.

With heavy casualties leaving a 100-yard (91 m) gap in the Marine lines at the position, he fought a single-handed battle to prevent an enemy breakthrough. Leaping from one side of the position to the other, he kept up a withering fire of over 1,000 rounds in three hours. He made repeated trips through heavy shellfire to replenish his ammunition, manned a machine gun after its gunner fell, and despite enemy penetration to within feet of his position, kept the enemy out of the breech in his company’s lines until he was mortally wounded. The next morning the Marines counted almost 200 enemy dead in the area.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Cpl Vittori was posthumously awarded his second Purple Heart Medal for wounds received in the action. He was previously wounded on June 9, 1951, near Yang-gu, Korea, and had been a property sergeant after leaving the field hospital. After a week at the job, he asked to rejoin his buddies in his old infantry platoon, and was allowed to do so.

Biography

Joseph Vittori was born on August 1, 1929 in Beverly, Massachusetts, where he attended high schools and worked on his father’s farm until October 4, 1946, when he began a three-year enlistment in the United States Marine Corps .

He completed recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina in December 1946. He served briefly at the Norfolk, Virginia, and Brooklyn, New York, Navy Yards and was a member of the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Portsmoth from April to June 1947. He was then stationed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard until May 1948, when he joined the2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune North Carolina. From January to May 1949, he served with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean area. He again served at Camp Lejeune, until October 3, 1949, when he was discharged.

Returning to Beverly, Massachusetts, he worked for a year as a plasterer and bricklayer until enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserv on September 26, 1950 for an indefinite tour of active duty. He was trained at Camp Lejeune until January 1951, when he arrived in Korea to join the company with which he was serving when killed. He had participated in the South and Central Korean campaign, receiving his promotion to corporal on June 15, 1951.

Corporal Vittori was originally buried at the United Nations Military Cemetery, Tanggok, Korea. His body was returned to the United States in January 1952 for reburial in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Beverly, Massachusetts.

The Medal of Honor was presented to his parents on September 7, 1952.

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