WWII Medal of Honor hero dies
October 21, 2008
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Army News Service, Oct. 21, 2008) -- Retired Col. Robert B. Nett, 86, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient and honorary colonel of the Officer Candidate School battalion at Fort Benning, Ga., died on Oct. 19 at his home after a brief illness.
Nett's funeral will be held at Fort Benning's Follow Me Chapel on Ingersoll Street Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. A graveside service at the Fort Benning Cemetery will be conducted immediately after the funeral. A brief reception will follow at Nett Hall, which houses the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame and is named for him.
Nett was inducted into the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame in 1959. Until recently, he continued to mentor upcoming officer candidates, giving his time and sharing his experiences with them, according to Benning officials.
Nett began his military service in 1940, enlisting in Company C, 102nd Infantry of the Connecticut National Guard. He was mobilized and deployed to the Pacific Theater shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He returned to Fort Benning in 1942 to attend the Officer Candidate School and received his commission as an infantry officer.
He returned to the Pacific in 1944 to command Company E of the 305th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. On Dec. 14, 1944, Nett led his company on an assault against a heavily fortified Japanese position near Cognon, on the island of Leyte in the Philippines, during the Battle of Ormoc Bay, A reinforced enemy battalion had held up the American advance for two days and was entrenched in positions around a three-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 hand-to-hand encounter, Nett killed seven Japanese with his rifle and bayonet and, although seriously wounded, he continued to lead his men forward, refusing to relinquish his command. Again he was severely wounded, but, still unwilling to quit, pressed ahead with his troops to assure the capture of the objective, according to his Medal of Honor citation.
Wounded once more in the final assault, the citation states 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," the citation reads.
Following his recovery, Lieutenant Nett later rejoined his company and went on to fight on Okinawa.
During the Korean War, Capt. Nett once again served company commander as he trained South Korean soldiers who fought alongside U.S. and United Nations forces. He later served as the Inspector General for Southwestern Area Command
In Vietnam in 1964, Lt Col. Nett served as an advisor to the Vietnamese 2nd Infantry Division. He also served as deputy brigade commander, 11th Air Assault (Test) Division-which later deployed to Vietnam as the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).
He later served as battalion commander of the Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning and as deputy director of company operations of the Infantry School. His last assignment was in Heidelberg, Germany, as chief of Reserve Affairs for Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
He retired from the Army in August of 1973 and served for 10 years as a teacher in Columbus, Ga. He continued his close association with Fort Benning and the Officer Candidate School there almost until his death, according to Benning officials.