Sergeant Richard W. O’Neill and the First World War

Sergeant Richard W. O’Neill and the First World War May 27, 2011

At the first convention of disabled American Veterans held in the State of New York, on May 27, 1922, Sergeant Richard W. O’Neill of the 165th Infantry (the old 69th New York regiment) was chosen as the most conspicuous hero World War hero of New York State by a unanimous vote. Governor Nathan S. Miller was requested to appoint Sergeant O’Neill to represent the State at the dedication of the Hall of Fame of California at San Francisco, during the exercises in connection with that occasion, to be held on June 20 to 26.

Sergeant O’Neill received seven war crosses for bravery including the Medaille Militaire, the Croix de Guerre (both from France), the Belgian Croix de Guerre, the Italian War Cross, the Montenegrin War Cross; and the Conspicuous War Cross (U.S.) and the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded for “Conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy on the Ourcq River on July 30, 1918.”

His citation read as follows: “In advance of an assaulting line he attacked a detachment of about twenty-five of the enemy. In the ensuing hand-to-hand encounter he sustained pistol wounds, bur heroically continued in the advance, during which he received additional wounds, but, with great physical effort, he remained in active command of his detachment.

“Being again wounded, he was forced by weakness and loss of blood to be evacuated, but insisted upon being taken first to the battalion commander in order to transmit to him valuable information relative to enemy positions and the disposition of our men.”

After his discharge from the hospital Sergeant O’Neill rejoined his regiment for the Argonne campaign, and was wounded again. His wounds numbered eleven. When he returned to this country he took a vocational course in building construction at the City College and is now in business. He is married, and lives at 304 West 114th Street, New York City.

Sergeant O’Neill is the son of John O’Neill of Liverpool, England, who was wholly of Irish blood, both parents being natives of Ireland, and of Anne Watson, a native of the United States, also of Irish blood.

Journal of the American Irish Historical Society, Vol. 24 (1925): 222.

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