Max Thompson was born in Bethel, North Carolina on July 21, 1922. He was working in a paper mill when he was drafted into the United States Army on November 14, 1942 at age 20. His service began at Camp Croft, South Carolina.
Robert Evan Brown, Jr. was born on September 2, 1907 in Dublin, Georgia. He was known by the nickname “Bobbie”, and that was the name he used when he enlisted in the United States Army in 1922, lying about his age.
The Army was Brown’s home, and he was a senior non-commissioned officer in the 2nd Armored Division in the early days of World War II and the North African Campaign. In 1943, he received a battlefield commission as a Second Lieutenant and transferred to the 1st Infantry Division.
Joseph Edward Schaefer was born on December 27, 1918 in Queens, New York. He was drafted for World War II service in the United States Army at age 23 on January 28, 1942. Schaefer was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, also known as the “Fighting First” or simply “The Big Red One” for their division insignia.
I couldn’t determine when he joined the division, but as the 1st entered combat in North Africa on November 8, 1942, it’s possible he was with them. The 1st Infantry Division also fought on Sicily, and then was relocated to England on November 5, 1943 to prepare for the invasion of Europe.
Gino Joseph Merli was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on May 23, 1924. He left high school after three years, and was drafted into the United States Army for World War II service shortly after his 19th birthday on July 8, 1943.
After initial training, Merli joined the 1st Infantry Division in England as the division was both recovering from their combat duties in Sicily and preparing for their assault on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
On June 9-10, 1944 as the 1st Infantry Division continued to fight their way inland off Omaha Beach where they had landed on D-Day, two men of the 18th Infantry Regiment distinguished themselves above and beyond the normal call of duty and were decorated with the Medal of Honor.
The 18th Regiment’s motto is “Vanguards”. Both of these men were vanguards of their units in the attack, putting their objectives and the soldiers they led before themselves.
Carlton William Barrett was born on November 24, 1919 in Fulton, New York. He enlisted voluntarily in the United States Army on October 29, 1940, about one month before his twenty-first birthday. In civilian life, Barrett had left school after his sophomore year in high school and had been working as a cook.