John G. Gertsch went to high school in Sheffield Area Middle/Senior High School (SAMSHS) in Sheffield, Pennsylvania. Gertsch joined the Army from Buffalo, New York in 1965, and by July 15, 1969 was serving as a Staff Sergeant in Company East, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. During a series of engagements on that day and the four following days, in the A Shau Valley of the Republic of Vietnam, Gertsch commanded his platoon after their leader was wounded and repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to rescue wounded soldiers and attack the enemy.
Gertsch, aged 23 or 24 at his death, was buried in North Side Catholic Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
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