OF HONOR CITATION WILLIAM A. SODERMAN
|Rank and organization:
Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company K, 9th Infantry, 2d Infantry
Place and date: Near Rocherath, Belgium, 17 December 1944.
Entered service at: West Haven, Conn.
Birth: West Haven, Conn.
G.O. No.: 97, 1 November 1945.
|Citation: Armed with a
bazooka, he defended a key road junction near Rocherath, Belgium, on 17
December 1944, during the German Ardennes counteroffensive. After a
heavy artillery barrage had wounded and forced the withdrawal of his
assistant, he heard enemv tanks approaching the position where he
calmly waited in the gathering darkness of early evening until the 5
Mark V tanks which made up the hostile force were within pointblank
range. He then stood up, completely disregarding the firepower that
could be brought to bear upon him, and launched a rocket into the lead
tank, setting it afire and forcing its crew to abandon it as the other
tanks pressed on before Pfc. Soderman could reload. The daring
bazookaman remained at his post all night under severe artillery,
mortar, and machinegun fire, awaiting the next onslaught, which was
made shortly after dawn by 5 more tanks. Running along a ditch to meet
them, he reached an advantageous point and there leaped to the road in
full view of the tank gunners, deliberately aimed his weapon and
disabled the lead tank. The other vehicles, thwarted by a deep ditch in
their attempt to go around the crippled machine, withdrew. While
returning to his post Pfc. Soderman, braving heavy fire to attack an
enemy infantry platoon from close range, killed at least 3 Germans and
wounded several others with a round from his bazooka.
By this time, enemy pressure had made Company K's position untenable.
Orders were issued for withdrawal to an assembly area, where Pfc.
Soderman was located when he once more heard enemy tanks approaching.
Knowing that elements of the company had not completed their
disengaging maneuver and were consequently extremely vulnerable to an
armored attack, he hurried from his comparatively safe position to meet
the tanks. Once more he disabled the lead tank with a single rocket,
his last; but before he could reach cover, machinegun bullets from the
tank ripped into his right shoulder. Unarmed and seriously wounded he
dragged himself along a ditch to the American lines and was evacuated.
Through his unfaltering courage against overwhelming odds, Pfc.
Soderman contributed in great measure to the defense of Rocherath,
exhibiting to a superlative degree the intrepidity and heroism with
which American soldiers met and smashed the savage power of the last
great German offensive.