Frank D. Peregory was a United States Army technical sergeant who posthumously received the United States military's highest decoration for bravery in combat, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during World War II. In a previous incident, he also received theSoldier's Medal for rescuing another soldier from drowning.
Peregory grew up in a large family in Virginia and although he was only 15 years old, in 1931 he lied about his age in order to join the Virginia Army National Guard. When the United States entered World War II in December 1941 his unit was activated and while performing training Peregory received the Soldiers medal for saving a fellow soldier from drowning.
When the unit arrived for combat overseas they were assigned to the D-Day invasion of Normandy and Peregory again risked his life by single handedly attacking a fortified German machine-gun emplacement, killing several and taking more than 30 prisoners. For his actions during the battle he later received the Medal of Honor. The Medal was presented posthumously however because on June 12, 1944, six days after the action for which he would received the Medal of Honor, he was killed.
He was born April 10, 1916 at Esmont, Virginia, and grew up in a large, impoverished, but tightly knit family in Albemarle County, Virginia. His family name is actually spelled “Peregoy” according to historian Richard H. Britton, although most references spell his name “Peregory.” His birth year is also typically given erroneously as 1915, possibly because he originally lied about his age at enlistment.
In 1931 he joined the Virginia National Guard at Charlottesville which is the county seat of Albemarle. Because Peregoy was only fifteen at the time, he lied about his year of birth, and this misinformation became part of his permanent record along with the presumably accidental misspelling of his surname. Upon the entrance of the United States into World War II, Peregoy's Guard unit became Company K of the 116th Infantry, 29th Infantry Division and they were inducted into federal service February 3, 1941.
As a member of the 29th Division Peregory moved with it to Fort Meade and the unit began training for participation in the war. During a training exercise in North Carolina before being sent overseas, Peregoy rescued a drowning comrade. In recognition of his action and disregard of danger to himself, he was awarded the Soldier's Medal, the highest non combat award that a soldier can receive for saving a life. The 29th was then sent overseas to train in Scotland and England for the next two years. The 29th was selected along with the Regular Army's 1st Infantry Division to attack one of five fortified beaches, codenamed "Omaha,"
After the assault had been postponed several times, on June 6, 1944, Peregoy landed with the 116th at Omaha Beach as part of the Normandy Invasion, also known as D-Day. His unit was among the first wave of troops to assault the beach but despite fierce enemy resistance that included heavy shelling and machine gun fire, his unit made its way to the town of Grandcampe, by June 8.
While his unit advanced on the German defenses the leading elements of his unit began receiving fire from German forces. The Germans were firmly entrenched on high ground overlooking the town and were able to inflict severe damage to allied forces as they approached. Numerous attempts to neutralize the enemy position by supporting artillery and tank fire had proved ineffective until Technical Sergeant Peregory, risked his own life by advanced up the hill under heavy enemy fire. He worked his way to the crest of the hill where he discovered an entrenchment leading to the main enemy fortifications 200 yards away. Without hesitating, he leaped into the trench and moved toward the emplacement. When he encountered a squad of enemy riflemen, he attacked them with hand grenades and his bayonet, killed 8 and forced 3 to surrender. He then continued along the trench, forcing more than 32 German soldiers to surrender, including the machine gunners. This action opened the way for the leading elements of the battalion allowing them to advance and secure its objective. For his actions Peregory was recommended and approved for the Medal of Honor. His Medal of Honor citation reads:
On 8 June 1944, the 3d Battalion of the 116th Infantry was advancing on the strongly held German defenses at Grandcamp-Maisy, France, when the leading elements were suddenly halted by decimating machine gun fire from a firmly entrenched enemy force on the high ground overlooking the town. After numerous attempts to neutralize the enemy position by supporting artillery and tank fire had proved ineffective, T/Sgt. Peregory, on his own initiative, advanced up the hill under withering fire, and worked his way to the crest where he discovered an entrenchment leading to the main enemy fortifications 200 yards away. Without hesitating, he leaped into the trench and moved toward the emplacement. Encountering a squad of enemy riflemen, he fearlessly attacked them with hand grenades and bayonet, killed 8 and forced 3 to surrender. Continuing along the trench, he single-handedly forced the surrender of 32 more riflemen, captured the machine gunners, and opened the way for the leading elements of the battalion to advance and secure its objective. The extraordinary gallantry and aggressiveness displayed by T/Sgt. Peregory are exemplary of the highest tradition of the armed forces.
Six days later, Peregory was killed while fighting in the hedgerows. He is buried at the American Battle Monuments Cemetery in Normandy also known as Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer Basse-Normandie Region, France. His grave can be found in section G, row 21, grave
A building complex at Fort Pickett in Virginia was dedicated to Peregoy in 1984. In June 2010 a rededication ceremony was held and a new monument was unveiled with descriptions of his actions regarding the Medal of Honor and the Soldiers Medal. The Frank D. Peregory United States Army Reserve Center, located in Charlottesville, Virginia is named in his honor as well as the Frank D. Peregory Fitness Center located in Camp McGovernBosnia.