Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Medal of Honor recipient passes

Last Medal of Honor recipient in Columbus died Sunday

Retired Col. Robert B. Nett, the last of five Medal of Honor recipients who resided in Columbus, died Sunday. He was 86.

Nett enlisted in the Connecticut National Guard in 1940 and graduated from Officer Candidate School in 1942. His distinguished career included service in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.

"He was the greatest patriot that ever lived in Columbus, Ga.," said Nett's long-time friend Jim Rhodes.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Ralph Puckett, considered one of the founders of the modern Rangers, said the inclusion of Nett's name on the Ranger Memorial located near Infantry Hall at Fort Benning and his membership in the Army Ranger Hall of Fame elevated the prestige of the battalion.

"We've lost a real American hero," he said.

From his Medal of Honor citation:


Rank and organization: Captain (then Lieutenant), U.S. Army, Company E, 305th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Cognon, Leyte, Philippine Islands, 14 December 1944. Entered service at: New Haven, Conn. Birth: New Haven, Conn. G.O. No.: 16, 8 February 1946. Citation: He commanded Company E in an attack against a reinforced enemy battalion which had held up the American advance for 2 days from its entrenched positions around a 3-story concrete building. With another infantry company and armored vehicles, Company E advanced against heavy machinegun and other automatic weapons fire with Lt. Nett spearheading the assault against the strongpoint. During the fierce hand-to-hand encounter which ensued, he killed 7 deeply entrenched Japanese with his rifle and bayonet and, although seriously wounded, gallantly continued to lead his men forward, refusing to relinquish his command. Again he was severely wounded, but, still unwilling to retire, pressed ahead with his troops to assure the capture of the objective. Wounded once more in the final assault, he calmly made all arrangements for the resumption of the advance, turned over his command to another officer, and then walked unaided to the rear for medical treatment. By his remarkable courage in continuing forward through sheer determination despite successive wounds, Lt. Nett provided an inspiring example for his men and was instrumental in the capture of a vital strongpoint.

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