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 Matt Louis Urban

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Matt Louis Urban

  • Birth 25 Aug 1919 Buffalo, Erie County, New York, USA
  • Death 4 Mar 1995 Holland, Ottawa County, Michigan, USA
  • Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
  • Plot Section 7A, Grave 40
  • Memorial ID 3031

World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. Lieutenant Colonel Matt Louis Urban has the distinction, along with Major Audie Murphy, of being the most decorated American combat soldier of World War II. According to the Total Army Personnel Command in Alexandria, Virginia, both Urban and Murphy each received 29 decorations, including the Congressional Medal of Honor. In 2000, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp that honored Audie Murphy as well as three other American combat heroes of World Wars I and II. Because of Postal Service regulations, however, Matt Louis Urban will not be eligible for a commemorative stamp until 2005. Urban's story is unusual in that he received the Congressional Medal of Honor not only because of his unprecedented multiple displays of battlefield courage above and beyond the call of duty but also because, as stated in his Congressional Medal of Honor citation, he uniquely "distinguished himself by a series of bold, heroic actions, exemplified by singularly outstanding combat leadership, personal bravery, and tenacious devotion to duty, during the period from 14 June to 3 September 1944" in at least five separate battles at Renouf, Orglandes, and St. Lo in France as well as at Heer, Belgium, during which he was wounded many times and for which he received seven Purple Hearts. The Germans against whom he fought named Matt Louis Urban "The Ghost" because no matter how many times they thought they had killed him, he always came back to fight them again in another place. His citation reads "Lieutenant Colonel (then Captain) Matt Urban, l 12-22-2414, United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series of bold, heroic actions, exemplified by singularly outstanding combat leadership, personal bravery, and tenacious devotion to duty, during the period 14 June to 3 September 1944 while assigned to the 2d Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. On 14 June, Captain Urban's company, attacking at Renouf, France, encountered heavy enemy small arms and tank fire. The enemy tanks were unmercifully raking his unit's positions and inflicting heavy casualties. Captain Urban, realizing that his company was in imminent danger of being decimated, armed himself with a bazooka. He worked his way with an ammo carrier through hedgerows, under a continuing barrage of fire, to a point near the tanks. He brazenly exposed himself to the enemy fire and, firing the bazooka, destroyed both tanks. Responding to Captain Urban's action, his company moved forward and routed the enemLater that same day, still in the attack near Orglandes, Captain Urban was wounded in the leg by direct fire from a 37mm tank-gun. He refused evacuation and continued to lead his company until they moved into defensive positions for the night. At 0500 hours the next day, still in the attack near Orglandes, Captain Urban, though badly wounded, directed his company in another attack. One hour later he was again wounded. Suffering from two wounds, one serious, he was evacuated to England. In mid-July, while recovering from his wounds, he learned of his unit's severe losses in the hedgerows of Normandy. Realizing his unit's need for battle-tested leaders, he voluntarily left the hospital and hitchhiked his way back to his unit hear St. Lo, France. Arriving at the 2d Battalion Command Post at 1130 hours, 25 July, he found that his unit had jumped-off at 1100 hours in the first attack of Operation Cobra." Still limping from his leg wound, Captain Urban made his way forward to retake command of his company. He found his company held up by strong enemy opposition. Two supporting tanks had been destroyed and another, intact but with no tank commander or gunner, was not moving. He located a lieutenant in charge of the support tanks and directed a plan of attack to eliminate the enemy strong-point. The lieutenant and a sergeant were immediately killed by the heavy enemy fire when they tried to mount the tank. Captain Urban, though physically hampered by his leg wound and knowing quick action had to be taken, dashed through the scathing fire and mounted the tank. With enemy bullets ricocheting from the tank, Captain Urban ordered the tank forward and, completely exposed to the enemy fire, manned the machine gun and placed devastating fire on the enemy. His action, in the face of enemy fire, galvanized the battalion into action and they attacked and destroyed the enemy position. On 2 August, Captain Urban was wounded in the chest by shell fragments and, disregarding the recommendation of the Battalion Surgeon, again refused evacuation. On 6 August, Captain Urban became the commander of the 2d Battalion. On 15 August, he was again wounded but remained with his unit. On 3 September, the 2d Battalion was given the mission of establishing a crossing-point on the Meuse River near Heer, Belgium. The enemy planned to stop the advance of the allied Army by concentrating heavy forces at the Meuse. The 2d Battalion, attacking toward the crossing-point, encountered fierce enemy artillery, small arms and mortar fire which stopped the attack. Captain Urban quickly moved from his command post to the lead position of the battalion. Reorganizing the attacking elements, he personally led a charge toward the enemy's strong-point. As the charge moved across the open terrain, Captain Urban was seriously wounded in the neck. Although unable to talk above a whisper from the paralyzing neck wound, and in danger of losing his life, he refused to be evacuated until the enemy was routed and his battalion had secured the crossing-point on the Meuse River. Captain Urban's personal leadership, limitless bravery, and repeated extraordinary exposure to enemy fire served as an inspiration to his entire battalion. His valorous and intrepid actions reflect the utmost credit on him and uphold the noble traditions of the United States. (Bio by Peter Holt)

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 5 Jun 1998
  • Find A Grave Memorial 3031
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Matt Louis Urban (25 Aug 1919–4 Mar 1995), Find A Grave Memorial no. 3031, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .