Sunday, May 29, 2011

These were brave men, all of them

This is the time of year we remember our soldiers the most. In my family there have been cousins in the Coast Guard and Marines, parents and step parents in the Navy and Army, an Uncle who served in the Army.

The only one I know of who saw the horror of combat and paid the ultimate price was my Great Uncle, who I am named after.

I've done some research on his service and have found very little. My Aunt has his basic information, the unit he served in and company. She also gave me a photograph of him and two of his army buddies (names unknown) that was found in his wallet when he died. I also have a photograph of his grave in France.

Today I hit the mother-lode, a Yahoo group dedicated to his division. He was in the 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, Company A. I posted an inquiry and within minutes (23 to be exact) I had a response then a copy of the then classified document of his unit's action during the last weeks of his life, and a list of names from his unit who earned infantryman badges.

It's a stunning document, with sketched in maps and detailed descriptions of the unit's activities. I can't thank the gentleman (the moderator of the group?) enough for the information he gave me, and the leads he showed me to get even more information. I've sent out a request for the daily log of the company, and will mail out a formal request for his Individual Deceased Personnel File. That file should have some gruesome but very descriptive details as to what happened to him.

Looking at the action file, it seems he was probably killed while his company was crossing the Rhine River, possibly around three in the morning. I do not know much about him. I posted in the hope that I'd find someone else in his unit who knew him, a long shot as soldiers are dying by the day. This information is something though, more than I knew this time yesterday, and why I continue to dig.

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