A Soldier's Story: Sergeant French Vineyard

A Soldier's Story: Staff Sergeant John Garry Gertsch


Staff Sergeant John Garry Gertsch was born on September 29, 1944, in Jersey City New Jersey. After the death of his father, he and his sister moved to Pittsburg Pennsylvania, and attended Sheffield Area High School. During high school,  he played basketball and football and was co-captain of the basketball team his senior year.  Staff Sergeant Gertsch graduated in 1963 and enlisted in the US Army in 1965.  He would find a home with the army and would, despite the war, continue to re-enlist.

He was assigned to the 101st Airborne and deployed to Vietnam with the 327th Infantry.

Staff Sergeant Gertsch would earn a Congressional Medal of Honor during a four-day engagement with enemy forces. On July 15, 1969, while attempting to gain territory at A Shau Valley, his platoon leader was wounded.  Staff Sergeant Gertsch rushed, under fire to his rescue and then assumed command of the platoon, leading them in a counter-attack and pushing back the enemy forces.  Later, while scouting the area, his unit came under attack again.  Staff Sergeant Gertsch would again put himself in harm's way to retrieve the wounded members of his unit and aggressively push back enemy forces.  On July 19th, his platoon was attacked again. Staff Sergeant Gertsch was severely wounded during the initial onslaught but would continue to command and engage enemy forces until finally, he rushed to block, physically, an attack on another wounded soldier and the medic treating him.

Staff Sergeant John Garry Gertsch rests at the Christ the Redeemer Catholic Cemetery (formerly North Side Catholic Cemetery) in Pittsburg Pennsylvania.