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Medal of Honor winner McGarity dies in Tenn.

  • Associated Press
  • May 23, 2013 - 12:38 PM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Former World War II Army squad leader and Medal of Honor recipient Vernon McGarity has died at age 91, a funeral home said Thursday.

McGarity died of cancer on Tuesday night in Memphis, said Taylor Loeffel, a spokeswoman for Memorial Park Funeral Home and Cemetery. Funeral services were set for Saturday.

President Harry Truman awarded the Medal of Honor to McGarity in October 1945.

According to the U.S. Army Center of Military History, McGarity was a Technical Sergeant in the 393d Infantry, 99th Infantry Division, during World War II.

McGarity was wounded in an artillery barrage that preceded a German counter-offensive near Krinkelt, Belgium, in December 1944. He received treatment but refused to be evacuated and returned to battle.

During the battle, McGarity rescued two wounded soldiers, immobilized a tank with a round from a rocket launcher, replenished the unit's ammunition under heavy fire and destroyed a German machine gun.

The machine gun had cut off the squad's only escape route, but McGarity managed to destroy it single-handedly under heavy fire and kill or wound all the German gunners, according to his Medal of Honor citation.

The delaying action allowed reserves to assemble and form a line against the Germans.

McGarity received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and two Belgian medals in addition to the Medal of Honor. There are 79 Medal of Honor recipients who are still alive, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

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