For the ages: Medal of Honor holders from WWII

Alton W. Knappenberger

Alton W. Knappenberger

A friend recently handed me a few pages from Pennsylvania magazine, dated August 1992, about the state’s Medal of Honor recipients from World War II.

Of 35 Pennsylvanians who got the nation’s highest military award for bravery, 20 received it posthumously. As of the publication date, four were still living in the state and four were living elsewhere.

I wondered if any of them survives to this day, so I did a quick Google search. The answer is no: All are gone.

One of the eight was Alton W. Knappenberger, a Coopersburg native I interviewed in 2004 at his home near Boyertown. He died in 2008. My story on him appears on the Arlington National Cemetery website at

Three of the others listed as living in the state were Gino J. Merli of Peckville, who died in 2002; Leonard A. Funk Jr. of McKeesport, who died in November 1992; James M. Burt of Wyomissing, who moved to Pennsylvania after the war and died in 2006.

Four were from the state but living elsewhere: Mitchell Paige and John J. Tominac were in California — Paige died in 2003 and Tominac in 1998; Freeman V. Horner was living in Georgia and died in 2005; and Jay Zeamer Jr. was living in Maine and died in 2007.

They belong to the ages, but their names and what they did will live forever.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s