Exhibit to highlight WWII valor by Janesvillian
MADISON—Anyone hearing what Gerald Endl did on the last day of his life would agree he deserved the Medal of Honor.
Endl enlisted just months after he married and moved to Janesville, according to a Gazette account published in 2010.
Starting Wednesday, Endl and three other Wisconsin recipients of the Medal of Honor will be remembered in an exhibit at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.
Endl was with the 128th Infantry, 32nd Division. He was with Allied forces that fought the bloody Battle of Drinumor River on the north coast of New Guinea in July 1944.
Japanese forces attacked Endl's platoon along a jungle trail with rifles, machine guns and grenades. With the platoon leader wounded, Staff Sgt. Endl took over.
Twelve members of the platoon were wounded, seven of those cut off by the enemy, according to the Medal of Honor citation.
“Realizing that if his platoon were forced farther back, these seven men would be hopelessly trapped … he resolved to advance at all cost, knowing it meant almost certain death, in an effort to rescue his comrades,” the citation reads.
For about 10 minutes, Endl advanced alone, fighting at close range and holding off the enemy while his men crawled forward to evacuate the wounded, the citation says.
“Courageously refusing to abandon four more wounded men who were lying along the trail, one by one he brought them back to safety,” the citation says.
Endl was carrying the last man when he was hit by a burst of automatic fire and was killed.
The medal was presented to Endl's widow, Anna Marie (Kirchoff) Endl, in March 1945 at Camp McCoy. He was the 11th Wisconsinite to receive the nation's highest military honor. Today, the count stands at 62 from Wisconsin, out of the 3,463 awarded since the medal was established in 1861.
Endl is buried in Fort Atkinson. He also is honored with other local Medal of Honor recipients at Veterans Plaza at Janesville's Traxler Park.