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ANTHONY DAMATO – WWII MEDAL OF HONOR

Born on March 28, 1922, in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, Anthony Peter Damato was a United States Marine who received the Medal of Honor for his valor and sacrifice of life during World War II. On the night of February 19–20, 1944, on Engebi Island (Marshall Islands), 21 years old Corporal Damato sacrificed his life to save the lives of his fellow Marines. He grew up in Shenandoah and prior to enlistment he was last employed as a truck driver.

On January 8, 1942, Damato enlisted and was sent to Derry, Northern Ireland. He distinguished himself right away by volunteering for special duty with a select group of marines in the North African landings. He was advanced in rate for especially meritorious conduct in action while serving aboard ship at the port city of Arzew, Algeria, on November 8, 1942. Landing with an assault wave entering the port from the sea, he assisted in boarding and seizing vessels in the harbor, and ultimately the port itself.

He returned to the United States in March 1943, and three months later sailed for duty in the Pacific.

On the night of February 19–20, 1944, Anthony Damato was serving with an assault company of the 2nd Battalion, on Engebi Island, in the Marshall Islands. While in a foxhole with two companions, he threw himself upon an enemy grenade, absorbing the explosion with his body. He was initially buried in the Temporary American Cemetery on Kiririan Island. Later, his remains were reinterred in the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. Damato's brother, Captain Neil Damato, was killed in action over Germany in 1943 while serving in the US Army Air Corps.

Anthony Damato's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with an assault company of the Second Battalion, Twenty-Second Marines, Fifth Amphibious Corps, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Eniwetok Atoll Marshall Islands, on the night of February 19,-20, 1944. Highly vulnerable to sudden attack by small, fanatical groups of Japanese still at large despite the efficient and determined efforts of our forces to clear the area, Corporal Damato lay with two comrades in a large foxhole in his company's defense perimeter which had been dangerously thinned by the forced withdrawal of nearly half of the available men. When one of the enemy approached the foxhole undetected and threw in a hand grenade, Corporal Damato desperately groped for it in the darkness. Realizing the imminent peril to all three and fully aware of the consequences of his act, he unhesitatingly flung himself on the grenade and, although instantly killed as his body absorbed the explosion, saved the lives of his two companions. Corporal Damato's splendid initiative, fearless conduct and valiant sacrifice reflect great upon himself and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his comrades.”