STAR MEDAL - Posthumously awarded.
Mestas, Felix B., Jr.
Date of birth: August 23rd, 1921 (La Veta/Colorado, United
Date of death: September 29th, 1944 (Monte Battaglia/Province
of Bologna, Italy)
Rank: Private 1st Class
Unit: Company G, 350th Infantry Regiment, 88th Infantry
Division, U.S. Army
Action: Felix B. Mestas, Jr., 37354821, Private First
Class, Company G, 350th Infantry Regiment. For gallantry in action on
27, 28 and 29 September 1944, on Mount Battaglia, Italy. On 27 September
1944, Company G, occupied Mount Battaglia with orders to hold this strategic
height at all costs. Private Mestas, a BAR gunner, and his assistant dug
a position on the forward slope of the hill. Within an hour after its
occupation, Mount Battaglia received the first of many severe counterattacks.
As the Germans crept up the hill. Private Mestas stood upright in his
position and fired the BAR from his hip. His accurate fire dispersed the
enemy and inflicted casualties upon them. The next day the Germans counterattacked
three times but each time Private Mestas helped to repel the attacks.
On the afternoon on the third day, the enemy launched a particularly heavy
counterattack, and due to the rain and fog, were able to approach close
to our positions. With utter disregard for the withering hail of fire
directed at him, Private Mestas again fired his BAR from a standing position
in order to obtain a better field of fire. When his weapon jammed, he
calmly repaired the stoppage under the protecting rifle fire of his assistant
gunner. Occasionally he paused to throw grenades, and after expending
his meagre supply of grenades, resorted to the use of rocks. As it became
evident that their position soon be overrun, Private Mestas ordered his
assistant gunner to run to the safety of the reverse slope of Mount Battaglia
while he protected his withdrawal with his BAR. The only soldier now on
the forward slope of Mount Battaglia, Private Mestas calmly fired clip
after clip from his BAR into the fanatical enemy ranks who were charging
up the hill massed almost shoulder to shoulder. Private Mestas killed
twenty-four enemy soldiers before he was killed. His gallant stand held
off the enemy long enough for our men to reform and to repel the attack.
His characteristic disregard for danger and tenacious determination to
hold his position at all costs served as a guide to the fighting spirit
of our men and is typical of the valor and self-sacrifice of the infantry