8th Inf8th Inf Medal of Honor

LTC George L. Mabry Jr.
Commander, 2nd Bn, 8th Infantry
November 20, 1944

LTC George L. Marby Jr.
Photo Courtesy of Irving Smolens

Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, 2d Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division Place and date: Hurtgen Forest near Schevenhutte, Germany, 20 November 1944.
Entered service at: Sumter, S.C. Birth: Sumter, S.C. G.O. No.: 77, September 1945.

Citation Reads:

He was commanding the 2d Battalion, 8th Infantry, in an attack through the Hurtgen Forest near Schevenhutte, Germany, on 20 November 1944. During the early phases of the assault, the leading elements of his battalion were halted by a minefield and immobilized by heavy hostile fire. Advancing alone into the mined area, Col. Mabry established a safe route of passage. He then moved ahead of the foremost scouts, personally leading the attack, until confronted by a boobytrapped double concertina obstacle. With the assistance of the scouts, he disconnected the explosives and cut a path through the wire. Upon moving through the opening, he observed 3 enemy in foxholes whom he captured at bayonet point. Driving steadily forward he paced the assault against 3 log bunkers which housed mutually supported automatic weapons. Racing up a slope ahead of his men, he found the initial bunker deserted, then pushed on to the second where he was suddenly confronted by 9 onrushing enemy. Using the butt of his rifle, he felled 1 adversary and bayoneted a second, before his scouts came to his aid and assisted him in overcoming the others in hand-to-hand combat. Accompanied by the riflemen, he charged the third bunker under pointblank small arms fire and led the way into the fortification from which he prodded 6 enemy at bayonet point. Following the consolidation of this area, he led his battalion across 300 yards of fire-swept terrain to seize elevated ground upon which he established a defensive position which menaced the enemy on both flanks, and provided his regiment a firm foothold on the approach to the Cologne Plain. Col. Mabry's superlative courage, daring, and leadership in an operation of major importance exemplify the finest characteristics of the military service.

A Brief Biography

Then and at Retirement
Courtesy of Irving Smolens

George L. Mabry Jr., born 14 September 1917, in Stateburg, Sumter County, South Carolina. Attended elementary and high school in Sumter county. Graduated from Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC, in 1940 with a B.A. Degree and a Reserve Commission as 2nd Lieutenant. Volunteered for Active Duty and joined the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, at Harmony Church Area, Fort Benning, Georgia on 5 July 1940 until January 1946. Landed H-Hour D-Day on Utah Beach, June 6, 1944 with the 2nd Bn, 8th Infantry Regiment. Fought through France, Luxembourg, Belgium and into Germany. Advanced in rank from 2nd Lieutenant , Platoon Leader to Lieutenant Colonel, Battalion Comander in the 2nd Bn, 8th Infantry Regiment from 1940 to 1946. Received the following decorations and awards during WWII: Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device, Arrowhead and Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, Distinguished Service Order (British), Belgian Fourragere, Combat Infantry Badge, and five campaign medals. After thirty-five years Active Military Service, retired as a Major General. Married, father of one daughter and two sons, and grandfather of five grandchildren. Major General Goerge L. Mabry died on July 13, 1990.

During the Normandy Invasion

Captain George L. Mabry Jr, S-3 (Operations Officer) of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry, crossed the dunes and found himself with several members of G Company caught in a minefield. Three men stepped on S-mines. Colonel Van Fleet described what happened: "Mabry had a choice: to withdraw to the beach or go after the enemy. Each alternative meant crossing the minefield. Mabry chose to charge. Firing as he ran, Mabry charged twenty-five yards to an enemy foxhole. Those Germans who resisted, he killed; the others surrendered. Next he gathered a handful of G Company men, sent for two tanks, and assaulted a large pillbox guarding the causeway at exit 1."

Sergeant Pike of E Company joined Mabry's group. As Mabry led the men across the causeway, headed toward Pouppeville, he caught up with Lieutenant Tighe of the 70th Tank Battalion. Tighe had lost three tanks to land mines but was moving cautiously ahead with his remaining two Shermans. Mabry put infantry in front and pushed on, urging speed because they were so exposed on the causeway and were taking mortar fire, simultaneously urging caution because of the mines. They came to a bridge over a culvert and figured it must be prepared for demolition; further, the scouts reported that they had seen some Germans duck into the culvert.

Mabry sent troops out into the flooded fields to pinch in on both sides of the culvert. The Germans surrendered without putting up a fight. Mabry had them disconnect the charges, then sent the prisoners back to the beach and pushed on.

After the guards put the prisoners into a landing craft, to be taken back to the USS Bayfield for interrogation, they reported to Van Fleet. It was 0940. Van Fleet radioed General Barton on Bayfield, "I am ashore with Colonel Simmons and General Roosevelt, advancing steadily." As new waves of landing craft came in, Van Fleet and Roosevelt sent them through the holes in the seawall with orders to move inland. Already the biggest problem they faced was congestion on the beach. There were too many troops and vehicles, not enough openings. Sporadic incoming artillery fire and the ubiquitous mines made the traffic jam horrendous. Still, at 1045, Van Fleet was able to radio Barton, "Everything is going OK." The beach area was comparatively secure, the reserve battalions were coming ashore.

Mabry pushed forward on the causeway. He kept cautioning his scouts. "You know," he said to Sergeant Pike, "the paratroopers are supposed to have taken this town Pouppeville, but they may not have. Let's not shoot any of our paratroopers." Pike said OK.

The scouts got to the western edge of the flooded area. "We could see the bushes and a few trees where the causeway ended," Pike recalled, "and then I saw a helmet and then it disappeared, and I told Captain Mabry that I saw a helmet up there behind those bushes and he said 'Could you tell if it was American or German?' and I said, "I didn't see enough, I don't know, sir."

The men on the far end of the causeway shot off an orange flare. "And these two guys stood up and the first thing we saw was the American flag on their shoulder and it was two paratroopers. They said, '4th Division?' and we said, 'Yes.' "

Lieutenant Eugene Brierre of the 101st was one of the two paratroopers. He greeted Pike and asked, "Who is in charge here?" Mabry came up and replied, "I am."

Brierre said, "Well, General Taylor is right back here in Pouppeville and wants to meet you."

It was 1110. The linkup between the 101st and the 4th Divisions had been achieved. Exit 1 was in American hands.

Mabry talked to Taylor, who said he was moving out to accomplish further objectives, then proceeded through Pouppeville in the direction of Ste. Marie-du-Mont. There were forty or so dead German soldiers in Pouppeville, testimony to the fight the 101st had been engaged in. Near Ste. Marie-du-Mont, Lieutenant Louis Nixon of Easy company, 506th, 101st asked Mabry for a bit of help from the two tanks; Mabry detached them and they went to work. Then it was on to Ste. Marie-du- Mont, where the Mabry force helped the paratroopers secure the town.

Courtesy of "The Victors", by Stephen Ambrose

George L. Mabry Jr. landed on Utah Beach with the 4th Infantry Division and was the first soldier to make his way inland to contact the American paratroopers. Following his service in Europe he served in the Canal Zone, in Korea, and was Chief of Staff and Assistant Deputy Commanding General of the U. S. Army Forces in Vietnam. Prior to his retirement in 1975 he commanded the U.S. Army Readiness Region V at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. Major General Mabry was the second most highly decorated soldier in the American military, the first being CPT Audie Murphy.

On June 14, 1995 the new Noncomissioned Officer’s Academy at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, was dedicated in memory of General Mabry who died July 13, 1990.

Courtesy of Don Collins and the Mabry Family Web Page

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