Click the video to hear Mr. Joseph Hammonds speak on his experiences as a machine gunner and being present in the invasion of Normandy on D-Day.
Joseph Johnson Hammonds: 2/25/1925-3/15/2017
Born in Yatesville, Mr. Joseph Hammonds has the title of being the most decorated WWII soldier from Upson County, earning five battle stars, the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star Medal, two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Battalion Citation, Combat Infantry Badge, the Atlantic Theater of Operations Ribbon, and nearly seven decades later, he received France’s highest military distinction, the Legion of Honor.
After enlisting in the Army in 1943, Hammonds trained at Camp Wheeler (Macon), before transferring overseas in April of 1944. From there, he participated in 5 major battle engagements, including landing in Normandy, France on D-Day, Saint Lo, the Battle of Aachen, and the Battle of the Bulge.
A machine gunner in the 30th division of the 117th Infantry Regiment, Hammonds received his first purple heart and the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions of gallantry in Aachen, Germany on October 4, 1944, when he repulsed 5 counter attacks and killed 71 German soldiers in just 3 ½ hours with his machine gun. During this stand he was shot in the leg and was later evacuated to Cherbourg where he spent the next 33 days recuperating. This single event earned Hammonds the nickname of a “one-man army” in local press and also led to his promotion at the rank of Staff Sergeant.
To learn more about Mr. Hammonds, visit our exhibit!