Bernard Pious Bell was born in Grantsville, West Virginia on December 29, 1911. He was living in New York when he joined the United States Army in 1942. He fought in Italy and Southern France as a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division.
Edward Carl Dahlgren was born in Perham, Maine on March 14, 1916. He was working as a farmhand when he was drafted into the United States Army just after his 27th birthday on March 23, 1943. Dahlgren was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division.
Emile Deleau, Jr. was born on June 28, 1923 in Lansing, Ohio. He was living in Blaine, Ohio when he was drafted into the United States Army on September 1, 1943. By the winter of 1944-5, he had reached the rank of Sergeant and was a rifle squad leader in Company A, 1st Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division.
Ellis R. Weicht was born on April 17, 1916 in Clearville, Pennsylvania. He was a farm hand in Bedford, Pennsylvania when he was drafted for service in the United States Army in the early days of America in World War II on February 5, 1942.
On October 24, 1944, the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment – part of the 36th Infantry Division – was cut off and surrounded by the Nazis in France’s Vosges Mountains. Two attempts were made to break through to the unit known as the “Lost Battalion”. Those attempts failed.
On October 26, the all-Nisei (second-generation Japanese-American) 442nd Regimental Combat Team was ordered to break through to the Lost Battalion. Over five days of intense fighting, the 442nd finally saved about 230 of 1-141’s soldiers, and suffered at least 800 casualties in the process.
Two of the 442nd’s soldiers earned the Medal of Honor for their heroism during the battle.
Charles H. Coolidge was born on August 4, 1921 in Signal Mountain, Tennessee. A high school graduate, he was drafted about seven weeks before his 21st birthday on June 16, 1942. Coolidge was assigned to the United States Army‘s 36th Infantry Division and fought in both Italy and France.
Stephen Raymond Gregg was born in the New York City borough of The Bronx on September 1, 1914. He moved as an infant with his family to Bayonne, New Jersey where he grew up. Gregg likely could have avoided being drafted due to his employment as a shipyard welder in Kearny, New Jersey. He was inducted into the United States Army on February 9, 1942 in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entry into World War II.
At age 29, he was one of the oldest enlisted members of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division when they landed in Italy at Salerno in September 1943. Among his Company L comrades was Charles E. “Commando” Kelly, who received the Medal of Honor for his gallantry on September 13-14, 1943.
Stephen Gregg learned from Kelly how to be a one man army.
Homer Lee Wise was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on February 27, 1917. He volunteered and enlisted in the United States Army on September 10, 1941 for a three-year term. Three years, which would be extended by World War II.
By now, you should have read the stories of Arnold L. Bjorklund and William J. Crawford, both of whom were awarded the Medal of Honor while serving with the 36th Infantry Division in Italy on September 13, 1943 – seventy years ago today. Now, for the story of the third 36th Division soldier to receive our Nation’s highest honor on that day of battle.
Charles E. Kelly was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 23, 1920. He grew up as what today would be called a “troubled youth”, joining street gangs and often finding himself in trouble with the police. He entered service with the United States Army in May 1942, where his troubles continued, including occurrences of him being absent without leave.
Regardless, by the time the 36th stormed ashore on the Italian mainland at Salerno on September 9, 1943, he was a Corporal with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment. Four days later in action near Altavilla through September 14, he fought so hard and intensely that he was later known as “Commando Kelly, the One Man Army.” Continue reading TFH 9/13-14: Corporal Charles E. Kelly, USA