b. 27/04/1921 Fordham, New York. d. 18/11/1944 Heistern, Germany.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 18/11/1944 Heistern, Germany.
Census records tend to indicate that Nietzel was born in Fordham, Bronx, New York on April 27, 1921, the first of three sons and second oldest child of Alfred C. Nietzel and Ruth Lawrence. The family may have fallen apart due to Nietzel's father's commitment to state mental institutions in Rockland and Orange County where he died in 1971. In the 1930 census, Alfred and his brothers are in a foster home in Harrison, New York. By 1940, Alfred had left high school after two years and had been working as a machinist in Nassau County, Long Island. On October 5, 1940, he enlisted in the United States Army in Jamaica, Queens, New York.
It is not clearly known if Nietzel immediately joined the Army's 16th Infantry Regiment then posted in New York City at Fort Jay on Governors Island, or if he served in other units prior to November 1944.
By late November 1944, Nietzel was a sergeant in Company H, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, as U.S. First Army's move across France, Belgium and Germany had been in heavy, grueling, combat for nearly seven straight weeks since September. Alfred died in combat during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest, along the Belgium-German border on November 18, 1944. The Hürtgen Forest was hard-fought and the longest battle ever waged by the U.S. Army. The battle's heavy losses and questionable objectives were soon overshadowed by the desperate circumstances of the Battle of the Bulge a month later, leaving the Hürtgen Forest offensive largely forgotten.
After his death, he was temporarily interred at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium and repatriated to the United States in 1949.
On April 19, 1949, a week before what would have been his 28th birthday, Nietzel was laid to rest at the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York. On the same day and in the adjoining gravesite, his younger brother William Nietzel, a private in the Army Air Corps was also buried. William died of non-combat causes on April 6, 1944, at Horsham Airfield in Norwich, England. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously by President Barack Obama at the White House on March 18, 2014. It was presented to his cousin Robert Nietzel.
Sergeant Alfred B. Nietzel distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a section leader for Company H, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Heistern, Germany on November 18, 1944. That afternoon, Sergeant Nietzel fought tenaciously to repel a vicious enemy attack against his unit. Sergeant Nietzel employed accurate, intense fire from his machinegun and successfully slowed the hostile advance. However, the overwhelming enemy force continued to press forward. Realizing he desperately needed reinforcements, Sergeant Nietzel ordered the three remaining members of his squad to return to the company command post and secure aid. He immediately turned his attention to covering their movement with his fire. After expending all his machinegun ammunition, Sergeant Nietzel began firing his rifle into the attacking ranks until he was killed by the explosion of an enemy grenade. Sergeant Nietzel's extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.
BURIAL LOCATION: LONG ISLAND NATIONAL CEMETERY, FARMINGDALE, NEW YORK.
Section J, Site 14185
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