Peter J. Dalessandro was born on 19 May 1918 and passed away on 15 October 1997. He was Technical-Sergeant (Platoon Sergeant) of 1st Platoon – Easy Company – 39th Infantry. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions of 22 December 1944, near Kalterherberg, in Germany.
As Platoon Sergeant, he was given the task to secure an important crossroad on the high ground near Kalterherberg in Germany. On 22 December 1944 at dawn, right after a massive artillery barrage, the enemy launched an important attack, throwing in all the forces remaining in order to take Dalessandro’s platoon positions. Realizing the scale of the attack and seeing his men getting disorganized, Dalessandro risked his live to stay among his men and encouraged them. He progressed toward a observation post that was too exposed to the enemy fire, he adjusted the mortars fire from there, but was still firing to the Germans with his rifle. He continued to encourage his men while being attacked, and his platoon succeed in stopping the first attack.
Later that day, the Germans launched a second attack as fierce as the first one. Once again, T/Sgt Dalessandro faced a certain death, and rushed into the forward post and guided the mortars to the enemy positions. After he have used all his ammunition, he crawled 30 yards toward a dominating but exposed position to secure a .30 Cal. machine gun and bring it back to his former observation post. He opened fire on a nearby enemy, and continued to fire while the gun was red-hot. He used the very last ammunition he had to kill four Germans who attempted to kill a U.S. aidman and two of 1st Platoon soldiers in a foxhole nearby. When the enemy had nearly surrounded Dalessandro, he was alone against the enemy. He then knew that he’ll be killed or captured. He then threw grenades and yelled to have a mortar fire on his own position, in order to cover his platoon retreat to a second defensive line. When the German hordes felt on him, he yelled a last time for an artillery fire on his position, saying “OK mortars ! Give me all you’ve got on my position!”
Bravery and intrepidity shown by T/Sgt Dalessandro during this attack of 22 December 1944 saved his company from annihilation or a complete capture by the enemy. He got prisoner and as a P.O.W., he escaped from the P.O.W. Camp and walked for days. He was hungry, thirsty, frozen. He arrived near a farm and asked for help. When he entered the farm, several German soldiers were warming up inside, and were stationed as a forward post. Peter was, again, captured, until his liberation from his P.O.W. Camp at the end of the war.
He came back as a hero in Watervliet, New-York, where he lived before the war. He then got elected as senator as Democrat senator of New-York. He served for 35 years in the 35th District from 1947 to 1954 and the 36th District from 1955 to 1957. After he retired from the Senate, he became the Senate Minority Leader’s Secretary. He then retired from the political life in October 1977, but stayed very active in Albany County until his death.
In 1957, Peter married Patricia Farley at Albany St. Mary’s Church. They had two daughters, Maribeth and Bernadette.