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RICHARDSON, Albert S., Sergeant, Co. “H”
Italian Bronze Medal for Military Valor

richardson bronze( Ohio. Adjutant-General's Dept. The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors And Marines In the World War, 1917-18 ... [Columbus: The F. J. Heer Printing Co., 1926-29.)

RICHARDSON bronzoRICHARDSON Albert, from Dayton (Ohio), Sergeant 332 Infantry Regiment (American Army), n. 1948763 registration number. - Upon seeing an Italian soldier, who, having fallen into a canal, was in serious danger of drowning, threw himself into the water and brought him to safety, giving proof of courage and camaraderie. - Monte Croce, 3 August 1918.
( Istituto Nazionale del Nastro Azzurro )

In an account of a night training exercise near Custoza with the Arditi, 1st Lt. August Rendigs describes the events surrounding Sergeant Richardson’s deeds that earned him an Italian Bronze Medal for Military Valor:

“As our troops on the center opened fire, they began a slow advance through the inky darkness against the “enemy’s center”.  A small stream, about ten yards wide but very deep, paralleled the American position, and only two fords were available for crossing it at the point where the frontal attack was developing.  As the men crawled slowly forward, one of the Italians, in his excitement, and not seeing the stream, crawled directly into it and went under.  Immediately a great commotion arose and his comrades sent up a number of very-lights …  Sergeant Richardson, of Company H, seeing the commotion, and realizing that the Italian was drowning, quickly dashed off his helmet, but with his gas mask, still in place, tied on his chest and his belt full of ammunition, jumped into the stream and swam to the rescue of the Italian soldier, who had apparently given up and gone down for the second time.  As he came up, Sergeant Richardson grabbed him, but the Italian, with the proverbial habit of a drowning man, clasped the Sergeant around the neck in such manner as to pull them both under together.  The Sergeant, however, broke the Italian’s hold and managed to swim to the bank with him, where willing hands pulled them out of danger.  The Italian was given first aid and then sent to the hospital, where he eventually recovered, while the Sergeant was none the worse for the mishap.  An Italian Colonel who was present as an observer immediately pressed forward and, warmly congratulated the sergeant, took his name and organization and assured him that his promptness and courage had saved the life of the Arditii [sic].  About a month later the sergeant was publically decorated on a field near Verona with the Medal Militaire, which is the second highest decoration obtainable by a soldier in the Italian army.  He was the first American so honored, and rightly deserved the decoration, acting courageously and promptly as he did …”
( Rendigs, August A. Jr., The Story of the Three-Thirty Second Infantry, 1919. Typescript, NP, ca. 1960.)

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