DURING WORLD WAR II
On "D-Day", June 6, 1944, "B" Btry. lost its entire firing battery which consisted
of 4 self-propelled 105 howitzers, when the landing craft (LCT) struck a floating naval mine about a mile off
Utah beach. It is my understanding that it sank almost immediately with the loss of all 60 men and
equipment. When I reached the beach on another landing craft and learned of the loss, I was devastated.
How quickly I lost so many good friends and buddies. What a way to enter into conflict. The rest of that day
draws a blank. I can't recall much of anything. I do remember being with Pfc Richard E. Showalter and T/4
George Doolittle that first night. We didn't know what was happening. Everything was very confused.
On June 7th I was reassigned. I went back to being a jeep driver for a forward
Observer. That was my job through all 5 Campaigns and battles through VE-Day, May 8, 1945. These
battles and campaigns included the hedgerows, Cherbourg, the St Lo breakthrough, the drive to Paris,
Belgium, Siegfried Line, Hurtgen Forest, Luxembourg, the Battle of the Bulge, and the pursuit into Germany.
I was with the first Americans in Paris on August 25, 1944. We supported the French 2nd Armored division
in the liberation of that city. That was a most exciting day.
I can't remember names of the many small towns and villages that we overtook.
Time and places didn't register. I had close calls, saw many of our soldiers, the enemy, and civilians that
had been wounded or killed. It really bothered me at first but, after a few weeks, it seems that you start to
get used to it. You try not to let it bother you anymore. I was very fortunate that I was able to survive the
337 days of combat without injury. One time I thought I was hit bad by German artillery. I was seeking
protection under my jeep, during a German artillery barrage, when I was jarred by a deafening explosion.
My head, ( I was wearing my steel "pot"), and shoulders were splattered with what I instantly thought was
shrapnel. Thanks, possibly, to some of the forced labor that had to work in the German munition factories,
what I was splattered with was dirt and debris. The "88" shell had landed about 5 or 6 feet from my jeep. It
was a Dud and sprayed me with the dirt it had dug up when it landed. If that had been a live shell, or had
traveled 5 or 6 feet farther ?????. I always had to be on the lookout for any signs of land mines. I had to be
very cautious at crossroads because the Germans almost always had them zeroed in by artillery fire. "Booby" traps, open areas, artillery tree bursts, snipers, etc., kept you on the alert at all times. Myself, a
radio operator, and a 2nd Lt. comprised our observer party. We alternated with another similar group. When we were back from the infantry, if telephone communication lines were needed, I would use my jeep
for running telephone lines from the artillery to the infantry. I had a large reel of wire mounted on the back of
the jeep. I would also be involved in keeping the lines operating. One thing I want to mention is that I had a
good buddy, who was a member of one of the 105 gun crews. He always had a foxhole ready for me, if it
was needed, when I returned to the battery area. His name was Richard E. Showalter. Another important
member of my unit was William (Bill) R. Cook. He distributed one of the most important things that we
looked forward to - mail, and occasionally, a package from home. I still see Bill a couple of times a year. We both belong to the 4th Infantry Division Association and have been meeting at mini re-unions in Pa. & Ohio.
There are so many more things I could write about but, it would be a never
ending story. Some of it would seem unbelievable to most of the people who read it, so it's probably better
left unsaid. I still miss my buddies and often wonder why I was spared. I'm proud that I participated in the
invasion and the subsequent liberation of France, and the rest of the European countries that had been
dominated by Hitler's Germany. I was honorably discharged, via the point system, on August 26,1945 at
Fort Dix New Jersey, after my 32 day recuperative furlough.
My awards include the following: American Defense Medal, American Theater
Medal, ETO ribbon with bronze arrowhead & 5 campaign stars, Good Conduct Medal, Army of Occupation
Medal with Germany clasp, Bronze Star Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Belgium Croix de Gerre, & World
War II Victory Medal. I have since been awarded the New York State Conspicuous Service Medal by
Govenor Hugh L. Carey, the French Medal of the Jubliee of Liberty (50th anniversary of D-Day - June 6,
1944), & the French War Veterans - Liberation of France Medal (50th anniversary of D-Day - June 6, 1944).
I have the Commemorative Medal for Americans ( 50th anniversary of World War II). I also have a lifetime
membership in the Military Order of the Ardennes and have the Grand Cross of Homage Medal. I am very
proud of all my awards and, my service in World War II.