Freeman Victor Horner
Major, United States Army
President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
HORNER, FREEMAN V.
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S.
Army, Company K, 119th Infantry, 30th Infantry Division. Place and date:
Wurselen, Germany, 16 November 1944. Entered service at: Shamokin, Pennsylvania.
Birth: Mount Carmel, Pennsvania
Staff Sergeant Horner and other members of his company were attacking Wurselen, Germany, against stubborn resistance on 16 November 1944, when machinegun fire from houses on the edge of the town pinned the attackers in flat, open terrain 100 yards from their objective.
As they lay in the field, enemy artillery observers directed fire upon them, causing serious casualties. Realizing that the machineguns must be eliminated in order to permit the company to advance from its precarious position, Staff Sergeant Horner voluntarily stood up with his submachine gun and rushed into the teeth of concentrated fire, burdened by a heavy load of ammunition and hand grenades.
Just as he reached a position of seeming safety, he was fired on by a machinegun which had remained silent up until that time. He coolly wheeled in his fully exposed position while bullets barely missed him and killed 2 hostile gunners with a single, devastating burst. He turned to face the fire of the other 2 machineguns, and dodging fire as he ran, charged the 2 positions 50 yards away.
Demoralized by their inability to hit the intrepid infantryman, the enemy abandoned their guns and took cover in the cellar of the house they occupied.
Staff Sergeant Horner burst into the building,
hurled 2 grenades down the cellar stairs, and called for the Germans to
surrender. Four men gave up to him. By his extraordinary courage, Staff
Sergeant Horner destroyed 3 enemy machinegun positions, killed or captured
7 enemy, and cleared the path for his company's successful assault on Wurselen.
One would think that Medal of Honor recipients Bob Nett and Freeman Horner would occasionally talk about their World War II experiences.
After all, they belong to one of the most exclusive fraternities in the world and they've been Columbus neighbors for the better part of 20 years.
But, said Nett, after learning of the Thursday passing of his friend at age 83, "we never talked shop, even at conventions."
Not surprising, said Horner's daughter, Diane Staiti.
After all, she didn't learn of her father's heroics until she was in grammar school.
"One day a nun approached me and said I must be very proud of my dad's accomplishment," she said Friday. "I asked her what she meant and she told me daddy had won the Medal of Honor. That's how I found out about it."
In a 2003 interview, Horner, who had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 1990, said he never relived the moment in November 1944, when he single-handedly wiped out three enemy machine gun positions and killed or captured seven enemy soldiers in Wurselen, Germany.
"Once was enough, thank you," he said.
Even Joyce Horner, whom Freeman married after the death of his first wife Agnes in 1982, didn't learn of his Medal of Honor past until she accidentally came across some military paperwork of Horner's.
"I asked him why he had never told me about the award," she said.
His answer: "Nothin' to tell."
Born in Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, and raised in Trevorton, Pennsylvania, Horner was a Staff Sergeant in the 119th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division, when his company ran into stiff enemy resistance in November 1944.
He briefly separated from the Army after the war but rejoined after a stretch of civilian life and earned a commission through Officer Candidate School. He remained on active duty until retirement as a major and later worked in civil service.
Nett, 83, said that with Horner's death the list of living Medal of Honor recipients from World War II has dwindled to 40 (and 117 overall). And like the rest, said Nett, "Freeman will be missed." Nett earned his Medal of Honor for action in the Philippines.
A memorial service for Horner will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Striffler-Hamby Mortuary on Macon Road. Burial is set for December 16, 2005 at Arlington National Cemetery.
He is survived by his wife Joyce, daughter
Diane Staiti, and sons Freeman Horner Jr. of Medford, New Jersey, and David
Mark Horner of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.
Photo Courtesy of Ruccell C. Jacobs, August 2006
HORNER, FREEMAN VICTOR
Posted: 12 November 2005 Updated: 18 December 2005 Updated: 6 August 2006 Updated: 21 August 2006