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December 17, 1944 was the second day of the Battle of the Bulge, Nazi Germany’s last ditch counter-offensive to stave off defeat in Western Europe at the hands of the Allies. The early days of the offensive were marked by rapid gains by the enemy and stalwart, heroic defenses by the besieged Americans in their path. Three soldiers of the United States Army‘s 2nd Infantry Division were awarded the Medal of Honor for their courage that day.
They were Private First Class Richard E. Cowan, Sergeant José M. López, and Private First Class William A. Soderman.
Continue reading Second to none: Cowan, López, & Soderman (December 17, 1944)
Thomas Vernon McGarity was born in Right, Tennessee on December 1, 1921. He was drafted into the United States Army on November 24, 1942, one week before his twenty-first birthday. He was eventually assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, part of the 99th Infantry Division.
The 99th was one of the wartime divisions made up largely of draftees. They trained extensively stateside, and were deployed for combat in Europe on September 30, 1944. They arrived on the front lines in Belgium on November 9th. The “Battle Babies”, as the 99th became known, probed Nazi German defenses until December 16, 1944, when the enemy counterattack later known as the Battle of the Bulge began.
Continue reading Technical Sergeant Vernon McGarity, USA (December 16, 1944)
Leonard Alfred Funk, Jr. was born on August 27, 1916 in Braddock, Pennsylvania. He was living in nearby Wilkinsburg, PA when he was drafted for service in the United States Army at age 24 on June 7, 1941, prior to the United States’ entry into World War II. Funk volunteered for service in the fledgling airborne force, and earned his paratrooper’s wings.
Continue reading First Sergeant Leonard A. Funk, Jr., USA (January 29, 1945)
Arthur Otto Beyer was born in Rock Township, Mitchell County, Iowa on May 20, 1909. He was living in Saint Ansgar, Iowa when he volunteered or was drafted for service in the United States Army during World War II.
Beyer was assigned to Company C, 603rd Tank Destroyer Battalion which landed for combat in France in July 1944 attached to the 6th Armored Division.
Continue reading Corporal Arthur O. Beyer, USA (January 15, 1945)
The Nazi Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B, nicknamed by its makers as the Königstiger and by the Allies as the “King Tiger” or “Royal Tiger”, was one of the most intimidating presences on late World War II battlefields. Weighing nearly 77 tons with near-impregnable armor (for the day), an 88mm main cannon, and two machine guns, it was an unmatched force on the battlefield.
There’s no way one could be beat back by a single American infantryman, right?
Continue reading Staff Sergeant Archer T. Gammon, USA (January 11, 1945)
Curtis F. Shoup was born January 11, 1921 in Napenoch, New York. He graduated from high school in Oswego, NY and was inducted for wartime service in the United States Army at age 21 on August 12, 1942 at Syracuse, NY.
Shoup was assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 346th Infantry Regiment in August of 1944. The regiment was part of the 87th Infantry Division and was comprised mainly of draftees. They arrived for combat in Europe when they landed in France in early December, 1944.
Continue reading Staff Sergeant Curtis F. Shoup, USA (January 7, 1945)
Isadore Seigfreid Jachman was born in Berlin, Germany on December 14, 1922. When he was two years old, he emigrated to the United States with his parents, who settled in Baltimore, Maryland. He became a naturalized US citizen and then volunteered to fight for his adopted country in the United States Army on November 17, 1942.
Continue reading Staff Sergeant Isadore S. Jachman, USA (January 4, 1945)
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.
Continue reading Private First Class Gino J. Merli, USA (September 4-5, 1944)