Gilbert Clinton Knodel
1939, 4726, Chamberlain, SCS-7
The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, PVT Gilbert Clinton Knodel, 19030031, who died in the service of his country on January 10th, 1943 in Guadalcanal. The cause of death was listed as KIA. At the time of his death Gilbert was 21 years of age. He was from Hughes County, South Dakota.
The decorations earned by PVT Gilbert Clinton Knodel include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Purple Heart, the Asiatic-Pacific Service Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
Gilbert Clinton Knodel was born to Emanuel and Jennie Mae (Miller) Knodel on January 7, 1922, in Kaylor, Hutchinson County, South Dakota. A few years later the Knodel family moved to Holabird and then later settled in Pierre. Gilbert was educated in Pierre schools, stopping just short of graduation. Gilberts brother Orval, remembers that Gilbert liked to play intramural basketball and sandlot baseball; he also enjoyed swimming, often in the Missouri River. As a hobby, Gilbert raised pigeons and cared for the family dog and pony. Orval says that "Gilbert was small of stature but strong and fearless."
In 1940 Gilbert served the Civilian Conservation Corps in South Dakota and traveled to Seattle, Washington, where he enlisted in the Army on July 11, 1940.
On January 10, 1943, Army Private Gilbert Clinton Knodel died of wounds he received while fighting heroically at Guadalcanal. The Commander, Robert B. McClure, sent a letter, which read in part:
By this time you have. no doubt, received official notification that your son Gilbert was killed in action on January 10, 1943. I am writing this letter to offer you the sincere sympathy of myself and the officers and men of your son's regiment and to do what little I can to soften your grief.
Your son was killed in brave performance of duty against the enemy. I assure you that you can be proud in the knowledge that his actions were willing, loyal, and courageous in making the noblest sacrifice a man can give -- his life for his country. For his act of unselfish bravery, I have recommended that he be awarded a citation for extraordinary heroism in combat.
Pfc. Gilbert Knodel was posthumously awarded medals for merit and courage. The Order of the Purple Heart was awarded to servicemen wounded in action. The reverse side of the medal bears the words FOR MILITARY MERIT and Gilbert Clinton Knodel's name. His other award was the Distinguished Service Cross, awarded for exceptional heroism in battle. The circumstances were as follows:
Private Knodel volunteered to accompany a patrol whose mission was to eliminate an enemy stronghold situated in some dense under-growth. The patrol was halted by enemy machine gun fire as the men attempted to descend a steep slope bordering the gulch in which the enemy emplacement was located. Private Knodel volunteered to proceed alone in an attempt to reach the objective. Driven back by heavy fire in the first two attempts, he tried to approach the stronghold from a different direction and in doing this he was wounded in the stomach. Although mortally wounded he crawled forward until he was within five yards of the position and destroyed the enemy emplacement with hand grenades. Private Knodel's actions enabled the patrol to advance and accomplish its mission.
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Gilbert C. Knodel (19030031), Private, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy in action against enemy forces on 11 January 1943. Private Knodels intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
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