War is hell, I know. But I have developed this fascination with heroism during a war that makes me wonder: “What does it take for a man to bite his own nerves and fears, pick up his gun, and dive into combat in the name of saving a fellow soldier?” Isn’t human nature to self-preserve? Or does that same nature fuel and drive a man to do these valiant acts?

To find answers, I turned to the list of brave men who received the Medal of Honor, the highest honorable award a man could receive for valiant heroism and sacrifice—where I stumbled upon World War II veteran Vito Bertoldo.

By all means, all these valor awardees, especially those who sacrificed themselves to save others, nonetheless showed gallantry. But this man, boy, he’s among up the God-tier who took it to the next LEVEL!

If you’ve seen his documentary on Netflix or read past exclusive articles about him, I’m sure you already know about Bertoldo’s staggering rise to prominence. A walking paradox, he joined the U.S. Army under the 4-F classification due to his poor eyesight. Yet, he managed to shoot down almost perfectly all those aggressors on that fateful night when he was left to defend two commanding posts alone.

netflix medal of honor docuseries
(Image source: IMDb/Netflix)

Born and raised in Decatur, Illinois, in the early winter of 1916, Bertoldo worked as a coal miner and truck driver before he enlisted in the Army in 1942. The fact that he was exempted from the World War II draft because of his weak eyesight—this man did not grab that free ticket. He managed to talk his way into limited service as a U.S. military policeman. But Bertoldo wanted to do more, and he did. He received a special seal of approval that would allow him to be transferred to an infantry unit deployed in France along the 42nd Infantry Division… as a cook.

Now a Private First Class, Bertoldo was voluntold to stand guard for the 1st Battalion, 242nd Infantry Regiment on January 9, 1945—a date that forever changed his life and engraved in American military history.

For the next two days, two-frickin’ days, Bertoldo defended a vital command post near Hatten, France, alone against infantry of German soldiers after his fellow stand guards were taken down when the invaders tricked them from surrendering. And did I mention that the offensive brought tanks?! Yes, with an S. Because Bertoldo’s defense was so strong, it felt like a hundred men were there with him.

Germans were on the verge of losing, and as part of its last-ditch effort to turntables, they resorted to attacking and destroying the U.S. 7th Army, where most of its supplies were reaching their last stretch after the exhausting Battle of the Bulge. But little did they know, a one-person stronghold was waiting for them at the entrance.