Honoring the Man that Honored his City
West Haven, Connecticut
William A. Soderman
Recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor

The Man, the
Honor, and the Ship

President Harry S Truman presented Pfc. Soderman the Medal of Honor
during a ceremony at the White House on 12 October 1945.

The President of the United States of America, authorized by an Act of Congress,
03 March 1863 has awarded in the name of the Congress the Medal of Honor to:

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company K,
                                 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.
Place and date: Near Rocherath, Belgium, 17 December 1944.
Entered service at: West Haven, Connecticut.
Birth: West Haven, Connecticut.
G.O. No.: 97, 01 November 1945.

Citation: Armed with a bazooka, he defended a key road junction near Rocherath, Belgium, on 17 December 1944, during the German Ardennes counteroffensive. After a heavy artillery barrage had wounded and forced the withdrawal of his assistant, he heard enemy tanks approaching the position where he calmly waited in the gathering darkness of early evening until the 5 Mark V tanks which made up the hostile force were within pointblank range. He then stood up, completely disregarding the firepower that could be brought to bear upon him, and launched a rocket into the lead tank, setting it afire and forcing its crew to abandon it as the other tanks pressed on before Pfc. Soderman could reload. The daring bazookaman remained at his post all night under severe artillery, mortar, and machinegun fire, awaiting the next onslaught, which was made shortly after dawn by 5 more tanks Running along a ditch to meet them, he reached an advantageous point and there leaped to the road in full view of the tank gunners, deliberately aimed his weapon and disabled the lead tank. The other vehicles, thwarted by a deep ditch in their attempt to go around the crippled machine, withdrew. While returning to his post Pfc. Soderman, braving heavy fire to attack an enemy infantry platoon from close range, killed at least 3 Germans and wounded several others with a round from his bazooka. By this time, enemy pressure had made Company K's position untenable. Orders were issued for withdrawal to an assembly area, where Pfc. Soderman was located when he once more heard enemy tanks approaching. Knowing that elements of the company had not completed their disengaging maneuver and were consequently extremely vulnerable to an armored attack, he hurried from his comparatively safe position to meet the tanks. Once more he disabled the lead tank with a single rocket, his last; but before he could reach cover, machinegun bullets from the tank ripped into his right shoulder. Unarmed and seriously wounded he dragged himself along a ditch to the American lines and was evacuated. Through his unfaltering courage against overwhelming odds, Pfc. Soderman contributed in great measure to the defense of Rocherath, exhibiting to a superlative degree the intrepidity and heroism with which American soldiers met and smashed the savage power of the last great German offensive.
About the Ship's Name

USNS SODERMAN ship is named to honor Pfc. William A. Soderman, USA (1912-1980), a native of West Haven, Connecticut. Pfc. Soderman was assigned to Company K, 9th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division during World War II. On Dec. 17, 1944, Pfc. Soderman defended a key road junction near Rocherath, Belgium. Under severe artillery barrage, mortar and machine gun fire, he remained at his post and successfully held off German counter offenses by disabling three enemy tanks with a bazooka at point blank range before being wounded. Distinguishing himself by conspicuous gallantry and unfaltering courage against overwhelming odds, above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy, President Harry S Truman presented Pfc. Soderman the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the White House on Oct. 12, 1945.

USNS Soderman (T-AKR 299)
- formerly LICA MAERSK -
- Military Sealift Command -

Built as commercial container ship LICA MAERSK in Denmark in 1980, the ship was lengthened by Hyundai in 1987 and in the early 1990s, the Navy purchased the LICA MAERSK. The ship subsequently underwent conversion to a large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ship (LMSR) at NASSCO and was delivered to the Military Sealift Command in 1997 where the ship entered service as USNS SODERMAN becoming the first ship in the Navy named after US Army Pfc. William A. Soderman. The USNS SODERMAN was operated by Bay Ship Management, Inc. under US Navy Military Sealift Command charter, and was manned by US Merchant Marine personnel.

General Characteristics: Delivered: 1980
Builder: Lindovaerftet, Odense, Denmark
Conversion yard: National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., San Diego, Calif.
Delivered to MSC: November 11, 1997
Propulsion system: 1 Burmeister & Wain 12L90 GFCA diesel; 1 shaft;
bow and stern thrusters
Propellers: one
Length: 908.8 (277 meters)
Beam: 105.6 feet (32.2 meters)
Draft: 34.8 feet (10.6 meters)
Displacement: approx. 54,450 tons full load
Speed: 24 knots
Aircraft: helicopter landing area only
Armament: none
Capacity: 312,461 sq. ft.
Crew: 26 civilian crew (up to 45); up to 50 active duty

William A. Soderman passed away on 20 October 1980

William A. Soderman headstone at the Oak Grove Cemetery on
Campbell Avenue in West Haven, Connecticut

Some History of the Medal of Honor

Air Force

Though it was not uncommon for Medals of Honor to continue to be pinned to a soldier's tunic during World War II, the practice of draping it around a recipient's neck became increasingly used. For this purpose the modern Medal of Honor was suspended from an 8-sided "pad" bearing 13 white stars, to which the blue silk neck ribbon was attached. The Medal of Honor is the only United States Military Award that is worn around the neck rather than pinned to the uniform.

Ribbon and Rosette

On May 2, 1895 Congress authorized "a rosette or knot to be worn in lieu of the medal and a ribbon to be worn with the medal." Today's Medal of Honor Ribbon is blue with FIVE stars, 2 at the top and 3 at the bottom.(One of the most common mistakes people make when displaying Medal of Honor graphics is to display the ribbon up-side down.)The six-sided blue silk rosette bears 13 stars and is worn on civilian attire. Medal of Honor recipients also wear the Medal itself around the neck of civilian attire for special occasions.

Connecticut Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor
Total Awards
Civil War
Indian Campaigns
War with Spain
Boxer Rebellion
World War I
World War II
Korean Conflict
Vietnam Era
Connecticut Totals:
National Totals:

  Coast Guard 1     Posthumous 574

These totals reflect the total number of Medals of Honor awarded.

Nineteen (19) men received a second award: fourteen of these men received two separate Medals for two separate actions; five received both the Navy and the Army Medals of Honor for the same action. The total number of Medal of Honor recipients is 3,408.

Total Medals of Honor awarded: 3,459

Total number of Medal of Honor recipients: 3,440

Total number of double recipients: 19

As of 13 April 2003, there are 137 living Medal of Honor recipients.
As of 07 December 2005, there are 117 living Medal of Honor recipients.
Surviving Recipients by conflict:
World War II - 40
Korea - 16
Vietnam - 61

Congressional Medal of Honor Society
40 Patriots Point Road
Mt Pleasant SC 29464

Link to the History of the Medal of Honor

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Started on: 22 January 2005
Last revised: 22 April, 2012 by ThistleGroup
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