Establishing the Roer Bridgehead


23 February 1945


The moon was going down on a still winter night a-tingle with suspense. Stars glimmered through clear patches in broken scudding clouds. Underfoot, soggy ground squished as a patrol cautiously slithered to waiting boats, held in readiness by engineers. Even here, along the comparatively quiet banks of the Roer, back currents and eddies sucked ominously eagerly, it seemed to the engineers. A covering party, deployed and waiting tensely on the west bank, shivered in anticipation, expecting momentarily to be startled by a burp gun’s swift chatter, the blinding illumination of a flare or the soft "chug-bang" of a Jerry mortar. Surely these noisy preparations could not escape the ears, could not be ignored by outposts of the German 59th Infantry Division which had been awaiting the Allied drive to the Rhine.


At exactly 0300 "Buck" Rogers’ Night Raiders pushed out into darkness, out into the torrential Roer, receding from its spring flood levels. This renowned 407th Infantry patrol, led by 1st Lt. Roy Rogers, had been organized several weeks prior to the crossing and since its conception, had carried out numerous raids in the 407th Infantry’s sector. Made up completely of volunteers, most of whom were college men, the Raiders had many outstanding feats to their credit, and had received worldwide attention due to the recognition given their deeds by press associations and newspapers in the United States.

A preparatory mortar barrage on the dike across the river had just been lifted by 1st Lt. Karl Aamott, who had skillfully planned this important expedition. Now he anxiously waited while the boat, a dark blob in the night, swirled and finally steadied under expert hands. Their starting had been interrupted by a mortar shell exploding in the water nearby. Fragments nicked Rogers’ eye. Two other men were also scratched, but all carried on.

As the crews’ paddles dug into the racing stream a German machine gun opened up not fifty yards away, tracers forming a red canopy overhead. But in the fitful starlight bobbing assault boats on a raging river are poor targets. A few minutes later, minutes that stretched to hours for those who waited and those who worked, the boats quietly nosed into the Roer’s east bank. The men swiftly stepped ashore and scrambled madly up slippery slopes. With clocklike precision dark figures fanned out and encircled the ominous machine gun. Moving instinctively one man returned the fire. Another grasped his grenade. A good throw; a dull thud; a scream; then silence.

Now was the chance to reorganize, count heads, move off to secure the needed toehold. One group led by Sgt. Albert Charpentier swung toward the railroad bounded by a dense minefield, which prisoners later insisted had been placed behind their outpost line in order to keep their unit along the river, come hell, high water or attack. The rest of the patrol slugged south, mopping up one machine-gun nest after another. At H-hour—thirty minutes later—the first assault wave of the 407th Infantry crossed without a hitch. Their bridgehead, the first across the Roer, was established.

By this time Rogers’ Raiders had cleared five hundred yards of river bottom on a 200-yard front, knocked out five machine-gun nests, cleaned up six other automatic-weapons positions, killed fifteen and captured eight Germans. During these hectic, frenzied thirty minutes they lost not a single man. Their plans, worked out in advance to the most minute detail, had paid off./p>

When Rogers returned to the Linnich schoolhouse basement, he sat down for a few minutes on a handy K-ration box, resting, blinking a little in the dim light as fatigue replaced nervous tension. Someone walked up to him and said, "The general wants to see you."

Lt. Roy Rogers walked over to where Major General Keating and Colonel Dwyer were standing in a knot of officers in the smoke-filled room. He still held the remains of a bullet shattered flashlight in his hand./p>

"The attack is progressing very smoothly due to you and the accomplishments of your men," said the general. "I am honored to award this Bronze Star to you with the thanks and gratitude of the assault troops."

"There was nothing spectacular about the raid," said Rogers later. "The boys all worked strictly according to plan. We don’t take chances."


Almost simultaneously, as if wired in and controlled by a single switch, over two hundred cannon, rockets, machine guns of all calibers, rifles, mortars and all the implements of war broke the deathlike silence of the night. The valley of the Roer was ablaze with the fire of exploding shells and tracers. One wondered how anything could live under the devastating impact. A paper could be read under the glare of artillery muzzle flashes and the brilliance of bursting shells. The din deafened troops scurried down the steep bank to waiting boats. Clouds of smoke and the aroma of burning powder drifted over the valley in ever increasing volume. The long expected offensive was actually under way . (map of enemy defenses)    (map of unit locations)

Stunned and surprised but nevertheless determined to fight back with all their power, the German forces began within ten minutes to reply with long range artillery and rocket fire. Apparently uncertain as to the exact crossing point the enemy appeared at first reluctant to use his precious supply of ammunition too lavishly against the unseen foe. But with the coming of the first light of day the fire steadily increased until it constituted a virtual hail of protesting steel which battered the support and reserve infantrymen and engineers at both the Rurdorf and Linnich crossing sites. The feint at Flossdorf drew its share of fire, too.

The main crossings in strength began promptly at 0330 hours. Leading battalions were the 1st of the 405th at Rurdorf, and the 1st and 2d of the 407th at Linnich. The first wave crossed entirely in assault boats manned by the 327th and 279th Engineer Combat Battalions. By 0420 hours the initial crossings at Rurdorf were completed. At Linnich where the going was not so hard the first wave crossed in sixteen minutes, clearing the east bank at 0346 hours.


The 1st Battalion of the 407th had the mission of seizing Gevenich. The battalion crossed, starting promptly at 0330 in two waves of two companies abreast, A and B leading followed by C and D. The second wave started across at 0339 immediately after the first hit the far shore. There were enough boats for both waves so that it was not necessary to ferry the boats from the first wave back, and they were left on the bank as the troops got out.

A little machine-gun fire downstream harassed the troops during the crossing and mortar fire fell in the river and along the banks, but casualties were light and not a single boat upset.

About twenty-five shell-shocked prisoners were quickly taken by the troops shortly after they landed. These prisoners were then pressed into service to guide the Americans through the German mine-fields which lay before Gevenich. Casualties from this particular threat were thus totally eliminated. The leading companies (A and B) moved silently into Gevenich and apparently, despite what should have been ample warning, came upon the Germans before the latter realized the Americans were in the neighborhood. By 0630 hours they had surrendered without a struggle, and 160 prisoners were taken. The town was found to contain no mines or booby traps—further proof that the defenders were completely surprised. En route to Gevenich Company C, following the assault companies, was pinned down briefly by machine-gun fire from across the Gevenich—Linnich road, but was able to advance without appreciable delay.

In Gevenich the companies were subjected to moderate mortar fire as they set up a perimeter defense around. the town, and machine-gun fire was received from both north and south. The battalion commander, Lt. Col. George Park, sent two medical prisoners of war out on their own to talk to the gunners. The crew of the north gun came back with the medical men and gave themselves up, but the crew of the south gun told the medics they would not surrender. On the other hand they were perfectly willing to stop firing, and to demonstrate their good intentions they immediately abandoned their positions and retreated.

During this period the battalion was not tied in with either the 405th on the right nor with the 2d Battalion on the left, but patrols were sent out to establish and maintain what contact they could. Communication with Regiment was entirely by radio and was excellent, and by 1020 the position was well consolidated.

All spare ammunition was hand-carried by the A&P Platoon which was assigned 29 additional men. This platoon ferried ammunition across the river and set up a small dump in Gevenich.

Four litter squads, one with each company, evacuated casualties as soon as they occurred. The battalion aid station was located near the bank on the Linnich side of the river, and because it was closer than any other in the area, it subsequently handled a disproportionately large share of casualties, including some from the other battalions and from the engineers. Although the battalion suffered only about fifty casualties during the day, more than ninety-nine casualties were treated in the aid station before 1000 hours. Walking wounded from other units were sent back by vehicle to their own stations to help relieve the congestion.

For antitank protection the battalion had five three-man bazooka teams which followed the first wave across. The Antitank Platoon, led by 2d Lt. Louis Spitzer, also put into action three German 75mm field pieces that had been overrun. With these they engaged machine guns and other targets of opportunity.

A single threat developed against this highly successful advance of the 407th Infantry when, at 1515, the enemy counterattacked Glimbach from the direction of Gevenich with tanks and infantry. Without antitank guns, tank destroyers, or tanks, which had not yet been able to cross the river, and carrying their heavy mortar and bazooka ammunition by hand, the 2d Battalion held firmly and called for artillery fire support. Almost immediately the fire of eight battalions of artillery fell upon the attackers and dispersed tanks and men. Shortly thereafter, responding to a call from Division, P-47s appeared on the scene and completed the liquidation of the enemy forces in this area. The 2d Battalion remained in Glimbach for the rest of the day without interference.

The 3d Battalion of the 407th Infantry initially assisted the crossings of the assault waves with fire of all varieties. By 0815 this task was completed and they began to cross in assault boats. Fortunately, while this operation was in progress, the northern footbridge at Linnich was completed and most of the battalion was able to cross on foot. At 0915 they closed in Breitenbend as regimental reserve. Later in the day the 3d Battalion moved north of Glimbach where they organized positions to tie in with 84th Division elements on the left.


The 1st Battalion was the assault wave of the 405th Infantry. Because of the narrowness of the regimental front only one company crossed at a time, Company C leading at H-hour. A, B, and D were to follow in that order. An additional difficulty was encountered in the lack of sufficient boats, there being only enough for two companies. It was planned therefore that the engineers would ferry the first waves over and return with the boats for the next wave. Several craft were upset by near misses from mortar fire but none actually received a direct hit. By the time the third company tried to cross, only about half the original thirty-two boats were available for the crossing. All men wore lifebelts and none was drowned, although one boatload drifted as far downstream as Linnich. Those who were upset in the river walked back upstream, on whichever side they landed, to rejoin their units.

Extra emergency ammunition for possible immediate use was manhandled across with the assault waves. In one rifle company each man carried an antitank mine; in another, each carried a round of bazooka ammunition; and in the third each carried a round of 60mm mortar ammunition. Men of the heavy-weapons company each carried a round of 81mm mortar ammunition. In this manner a sizable dump was established on the east side of the river.

By 0445 Imbusch had been secured and the battalion was reorganizing while waiting for supporting artillery fires to lift before proceeding to its objective west of Boslar. Light small-arms fire had been received during the advance to the woods and a few casualties were sustained from mines adjacent to the river and near Gut Bischhof. At 0745 the battalion resumed the attack to seize the railroad on the crest of the slope between Erzelbach and Tetz. The attack was slowed by automatic-weapons fire along the track, but the men inched forward under artillery protection and by noon had seized the objective and dug in along an escarpment immediately east of the tracks.

The 2d Battalion crossed at 0550, also in a column of companies with E in the lead followed by G, F, and H. Reorganization was effected near Gut Bischhof without opposition from the enemy other than small-arms fire. At 0650 the battalion advanced toward Tetz, which was occupied with little difficulty.

Meanwhile, Companies G and F advanced abreast, passing south of Tetz, and by 0930 had seized the high ground east of the town. About noon an estimated hundred enemy infantrymen attempted to penetrate the 2d Battalion’s position from the right front and rear, and were repulsed by well placed artillery fire. During the afternoon these companies were shifted to fill the gap existing between Boslar and Gevenich and to contact the 407th Infantry. They dug in in the open fields between the two towns.

The 3d Battalion of the 405th assisted the crossing of the first two battalions by helping to carry the assault boats down to the water and later by furnishing supporting fire. After the first two battalions crossed and moved on toward their objectives, the 3d Battalion crossed about 1300 by means of the infantry support bridge. At 1535 after a twenty-minute artillery preparation the battalion attacked from the railroad north of Tetz, passing through the 1st and 2nd Battalions in an assault on Boslar. There the stiffest opposition of the day was encountered and the battalion was able to enter the town at 1637 hours only under heavy artillery support. Once within the town, the battalion hurriedly consolidated its positions. It then continued the advance to the high ground to the north and east and, as it came abreast of the 2d Battalion the latter resumed its attack and moved into the gap between Boslar and Gevenich, thereby consolidating the regimental position.

By 1400 hours all infantry assault elements were securely across the river, and the development of he bridgehead was well underway. Many Germans had been killed in their foxholes along the banks. Others had fled before the merciless pounding of our fire, but many were too shell-shocked to do anything but cringe before the weight of our advance.

AAs additional units prepared to cross, the greatest difficulties of the day began. At both Rurdorf and Linnich, the attack plans provided for construction of two footbridges: an infantry support bridge and a treadway bridge. The flooded icy river alone with its swift current and floating debris was sufficient in itself to make these operations delicate and trying, but combined with hostile artillery and mortar fire, and attacking jet-propelled planes (which appeared in this area for the first time), they created a very difficult feat of engineering. Narrow footbridges, designed to withstand a current of six knots per hour, strained at their cables. Some overturned under the weight of troops and were swept downstream. Support bridges held afloat by rubber pontoons sagged under destructive enemy fire. One of the LVTs being used in the Rurdorf area stalled in mid-stream, floated down in the swirling current and completely wrecked a bridge which had just about been completed. Infantry assault boats also suffered heavily. Some were capsized, forcing the infantry to swim across; a few were destroyed on the west bank before being launched; others sank or were rendered useless. Troops were fighting against time and every such incident delayed the development of the bridgehead and increased the ominous threat of a successful counter attack.


The 406th Infantry, initially in Division reserve at Baesweiler, spent a comparatively quiet morning. About noon they moved to Setterich. In the afternoon they marched to Rurdorf where at 1600 hours the 3d Battalion crossed by way of the footbridge. The 1st Battalion followed a half hour later under light hostile artillery fires, while the 2d Battalion crossed about 2100 to remain in reserve in Tetz, during the night.

The 3d Battalion also advanced by way of Tetz but after dark was ordered into the line to protect the right flank of the Division. Companies K and L were therefore put into position east of Boslar.

The 1st Battalion arrived in Tetz about 1800 and moved up Malefink Greek, prepared to remain in Division reserve. It was later committed after dark to hold the right flank after the attacks began to develop against Boslar. The battalion moved directly to the high ground running from Boslar to the positions being occupied by the 3d Battalion. The regiment was thus well disposed to guard the Division’s right flank which was considerably exposed as a result of the delay encountered by the 29th Infantry Division, the left unit of the XIX Corps, in keeping abreast as planned.


Initially the German 59th Infantry Division, flanked on the north by the 183d Volksgrenadier Division, and on the south by the 363d Volksgrenadier Division, withstood the brunt of the Ozark attack. Preparatory fires had so stunned the defenders that they were unable to resist effectively when their MLR was breached by our leading elements. Before nightfall, however, a significant stiffening was noted in the enemy’s attitude, as seen in the Glimbach episode. Moreover, information obtained from prisoners of war indicated that the enemy was still capable of launching a determined counterattack with the coming of darkness. The Boslar corridor appeared to be particularly vulnerable. In view of this danger, and also to improve tactical control, the 3d Battalion, 406th Infantry, was attached to the 405th Infantry at 2040 hours.

At 2000 the treadway bridge at Linnich was finally completed. Twenty minutes later disaster struck just as Company B, 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion, was preparing to cross. The bridge was suddenly attacked and knocked out by three low-flying enemy aircraft. Consequently Companies A and B, 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion, turned south to cross the treadway bridge which was then in process of completion at Rurdorf. The movement over this bridge by Company A began at 2241, but its progress was delayed by rubble trucks which were passing across under priority with the urgent mission of improving the badly shell-torn and rutted roads just across the river. By midnight Company A was reported as only creeping across.

The lack of TDs increased the vulnerability of our bridgehead, but with the completion of an infantry support bridge at Linnich at 1505 hours the 407th Infantry was able to dispatch its antitank guns to back up the foot troops. The 405th also succeeded in moving some of its antitank guns across the river by means of a support bridge. This was most fortunate since the expected enemy counterattack was even then beginning to take shape in the vicinity of Boslar.

Company L of the 406th was first to bear the shock of this attack by a small group of infantry which approached from the east. These hostile patrols were repulsed and the situation remained quiet for several hours. Meanwhile the 1st Battalion, 406th Infantry, was ordered forward to reinforce the defense of the town; they moved east of Boslar to organize positions facing southeast on the high ground. These positions were occupied by about 2130. At 2300 a counterattack by an estimated platoon of enemy infantry was launched against the new positions but was quickly repulsed.

During this period furious action was occurring north of town where some twenty German self propelled guns of the 341st Assault Gun Brigade, accompanied by two under-strength infantry companies, were trying to encircle the village in an effort to dislodge our troops. The German infantry, however, was considerably dispersed by a nine-battalion artillery barrage. The enemy guns, thus bereft of their support, were unable to accomplish their mission though two or three actually entered Boslar before the attack was finally stopped. A second attempt at 2200 also failed. The hostile guns then withdrew to a position about three hundred yards north of Boslar, where they awaited a favorable moment to renew the attack. The village was shelled continuously by the enemy throughout the night. More severe, however, was our own artillery fire which fell on Boslar in response to a call by the commander of the 3d Battalion, 405th Infantry, and which inflicted a few casualties in battalions of the 405th and 406th Infantry. This drastic measure was effective in holding the town against the enemy’s fanatic assaults. Although skirmishes with bewildered German troops inside our positions continued throughout the night, morning saw the end of the action.

At 0458 hours the self-propelled guns outside of Boslar again renewed their counterattack, this time without infantry support. Again they were repulsed. Not satisfied with these setbacks, the attack was repeated for the seventh time at 0757 against the 2d Battalion, 405th Infantry. Finally a heavy concentration of our artillery turned them back for the last time and the 341st Assault Gun Brigade withdrew, never to be seen again.

This marked the end of the first phase in the Rhineland campaign. The bridgehead was now established (see Map 14). The way was paved for an advance to the Rhine. Unfortunately our victory was not gained without casualties and, though the figures are small in comparison with the ferocity of the battle, 74 men were killed, 493 wounded and 31 were reported missing in action.



Preparatory artillery fires for the Roer crossing began at 0245, 45 minutes before H-hour. Besides the organic divisional battalions—the 379th, 380th, 381st and 927th—many others under Corps control delivered fires into the proposed bridgehead area. The initial barrage was delivered by four battalions of 105mm howitzers; four battalions of armored field artillery howitzers; four battalions of 155mm howitzers; one battalion of 45-inch guns; two battalions of 155mm towed guns; one battalion of 155mm self-propelled guns; one battery of 240mm howitzers; one battalion of 76mm tank guns; three companies of 90mm tank-destroyer guns and one company of 3-inch towed guns.

In the course of the crossing, artillery fired a total of 373 missions expending 12,257 rounds. There was no response on our battery positions. General Busbee emphasized this point when he later said, "I expected no counter battery fire and received none."


The 509th, 510th, and 511th Fighter Squadrons furnished air support after dawn. Their first strike was on Lovenich at 0800 on 23 February, where sixteen 500-pound bombs were dropped. Katzem was another target, being bombed at 0945 and again at 1115 with a total of thirty-two bombs. Kuckhoven was also dive-bombed and strafed at about 1030 when enemy troops were observed there. Later in the day a wide search was conducted for large caliber railroad guns believed hidden in the vicinity of Erkelenz. These guns began shelling the Linnich crossing site with clock-like regularity during the afternoon and were a considerable nuisance the entire night. Favorable weather permitted strafing missions over enemy's entire rear area during the afternoon, a factor which further reduced whatever mobility remained to him.


The use of smoke on the crossing of the Roer River proved its value as a diverting and screening action. Winds had been constantly from the southwest for several weeks, and it was assumed this trend would continue. Weather conditions proved to be perfect on D-day. The terrain had been fully studied for the location of the smoke pots, and these studies indicated a necessity for two base lines:

one base line was placed fifty yards upstream from the bridge at Flossdorf and extended for three hundred yards; the other was situated fifty yards downstream likewise extending for three hundred yards. Which line was to be later used would depend on the nature of the wind.

Altogether 980 pots were prepared, 440 on each base line. At 15-yard intervals enough pots were set up to burn for two-and-a-half hours. These pots were made up in bundles of fours bound on pointed stakes driven into the ground. They were placed in the lee of a dike which gave protection from both ho stile fire and observation.

The feint smoke screen at Flossdorf was set off at H-hour by the 3d Battalion, 405th Infantry, under the supervision of 1st Lt. Richard Kerr, the gas officer. Huge clouds gathered in the still air and then suddenly erupted above the scattered barren trees, ghastly in the azure dawn. The enemy immediately reacted by placing heavy artillery, mortar, and small-arms fire in the empty area. At Rurdorf where no smoke was employed the crossing site was almost unmolested. Farther north at Linnich smoke was employed to screen the river and valley with the coming of daylight when jet-propelled aircraft—ME262s—appeared low overhead to harass the crossing.


Every great battle is made up of many small battles, and it is seldom clear what relation the small ones have to the big ones. Sometimes minor battles have a life of their own and never seem to add up to one major operation. There are times when you cannot visualize what a big operation was like until you get down to battalions, companies and even individuals. The small action is like a clear pool in which the "big picture" lies distorted by ripples on the bottom. There is one advantage in watching the "little picture." Everything seems more concrete, more realistic. And it emphasizes the noblest part of the story—the struggle of the individual soldier, whether he is an engineer straining to make fast a cable in the dark swirling water, a signalman fumbling in the snow to repair a broken line, or a rifleman plunging shoulder deep in the river, forcing himself through unknown minefields and killing with the final desperation that comes in the heat of war. To these men must go the credit.

Their story is well told by Howard K. Smith, CBS correspondent, who was with the men in those tense first hours of the great Allied offensive that marked the beginning of Germany’s end. His diary, of course, records the great moments and the sacrifices of only a few individuals who were responsible for our victory. But it is a tribute to all.



February 22, 1945, 1800 hours:

This is Ederen, a badly smashed German village two miles from the Roer River. The sun has set now, and the sky is turning deep azure. German fighters, on reconnaissance, have been over five times in the last hour, and we have received a few German shells throughout the day. But now it is quiet.

I have been staying in a deep cellar with C Company of the 405th Regiment of the 102d Infantry Division. It has been chosen to spearhead the crossing of the Roer tomorrow morning. The company commander is Captain Harold Lozano of San Antonio, Texas. He is called Pancho by his 200 men. It sounds odd to hear them call him Pancho and then conclude what they’re saying with "sir." Pancho is a short, barrel-chested, black-chested, black-haired and black-eyed little demon. He is always grinning.

Right now I am back in the cellar with Pancho. It is a small, strong-arched cellar, cloudy with coal smoke from our leaky stovepipe. There is a clothesline over the corner where the stove is, and on the clothesline hangs a pair of dirty socks and three hand grenades. There are two shabby mattresses on the floor. I am sitting on one of them, writing these notes on my map case. The telephone has just sounded, and Pancho is now listening to the voice on it, which I think is giving him final orders for tomorrow.

1900 hours:

After the telephone conversation Pancho told his four platoon commanders—lieutenants all—that H-hour would be three-thirty in the morning. There would be a forty-five-minute artillery barrage, and then they would cross the river in assault boats which were numbered consecutively. Only one boat was not to be used: boat No. 13. The platoon leaders left for different parts of the town to brief their riflemen. I went to the house next door with one of them, Lt. Harold L. Miller of Atlantic City. These platoon leaders are the men who mold war. Their GIs do as they do. If the platoon leader breaks or shows fear the GIs do too. If he keeps his composure they keep theirs. They watch him and he sets the pattern for everything that happens. Hal Miller, a veteran from the Pacific war, is a typical crack American combat officer.

In the house next door the GIs lay around on the straw-covered floor. Hal Miller held a little map of the Roer against a wall with one hand, and focused his flashlight on Rurdorf —the site of the crossing—with the other.

"When you get across," he told the men, "don’t hang around. Move away from the bank as fast as you can. That bank will be as hot as Hades. We’ve got the minefields spotted, we think. Follow me in my footsteps when we walk. Get down on your hands and knees and feel your way forward on the lookout for trip wires when I do."/p>

Miller finished by telling them to get some chow and some sleep. Private William Smith of Haverhill, Massachusetts, said to me:

"How does he think that a man can eat when he’s got a lump big as a football in his stomach? I think it’s my heart." I told him I thought I knew what he meant. "Wish I had a good slug of Bourbon," he said. Again we agreed.

2000 hours:

Out in the back yard after chow we all sat around on rubble and worried. Eventually Pancho came out, smoking a big cigar and with a broad grin almost closing his little eyes. He stood, legs apart, in front of us and talked about past attacks and future prospects, telling only the funny sides.

With slight exaggeration he told about the attack on Beeck, when a mortar shell tossed him up in the air. "Where you headin’ Pancho?" a sergeant had shouted to him. "Ain’t headin’ nowhere," he had answered. "I’m just coming back down to earth." Everybody laughed.

On the Randerath deal he had met the same sergeant on the other side of a little stream. The sergeant had complained, "Got my behind all wet comin’ through that damn crick." Pancho had said, "That’s funny. That crick hardly came up to my ankles." And the sergeant had answered, "Yeah, it was the same where I crossed it. But you don’t know how low my behind’s a-hangin’ today."

Everybody laughed again and soon the other old-young veterans of Beeck and Randerath were retelling their oft-told tales, well embroidered. Then the replacements, the new fellows sent to take the places of the men who got it at Beeck and Randerath, found themselves laughing and enjoying themselves. I don’t know if Pancho meant it that way, but he had broken an awful tension.

2300 hours:

In the smoky cellar we went on chewing the rag. Photos of wives and families were passed around for inspection. Then one by one the others lay down and tried to sleep. When their eyes had been shut a good while, I went over to the corner and removed the hand grenades from above the stove and placed them in the far corner. Now I’ll try to sleep.

2400 hours:

The mess sergeant came in and woke us up. That is, he woke the others up if they were sleeping. I was not.

Outside in the cold night air helmeted shadows sloshed about in the mud. From big smoking cans we were dealt out pancakes, cereal, and coffee. I was surprised to find myself hungry.

In the cellars and houses the GIs were packing to move. They put on waders. Around their bellies, already fat with ammunition, they wrapped life preservers, then inflated them with air. K rations were stuffed in pockets. Everything else, overcoats, mess kits, blankets, was piled in a corner to be picked up later by follow-up squads.

Back in the cellar again Harold Miller wondered where we all would be tomorrow this time. Pancho, lacing his boots, started singing:

"What a difference a day makes,

Twenty-four little hours.

Everybody laughed.

00200 hours:

Pancho is assembling the men in the muddy trough of a road outside. In a quarter of an hour we will start marching up the road across the flatlands to the Roer River. We will march single file on either side of the road.

The barrage, Pancho said, would open just about when we were halfway to the river. Then when Jerry started responding we might have to leave the road. If we did we must follow him, for there were still mines in the fields.

0315 hours:

This is Rurdorf and I am in a deep, strong cellar, thank God. I don’t think I shall ever again witness a spectacle as terrifying as that I have just seen.

We marched over the silent road to a village called Welz, halfway to the river. When we were leaving the village our barrage opened up at precisely 0245. Almost instantly the navy blue sky turned into a dome of yellow fire as a thousand guns blasted forth. And they kept on firing, dotting the horizons behind and in front of us with momentary patches of red from the blasts of the guns and the hits of our shells. They thundered and roared over our heads like a hundred express trains. On that flat plain walking erect I felt naked, exposed, terrified. Once I think I almost broke. I wanted to dive for the ditch and stay in it until this was over. But I looked ahead and saw Pancho strutting on like a bantam rooster and I was ashamed of myself. This is what I mean by saying company and platoon leaders mold the shape of war. If Pancho had shown a sign of breaking I’d have gone into the ditch to stay. And I think a lot of soldiers would have gone with me.

Jerry was apparently stunned by the sudden blast. He did not respond for a full quarter hour. Then he cut loose. Among other things he lined our road with mortar bursts. Three times I had to dive for the ditch. Once I lost my helmet and spent a terrible minute groping in the mud for it.

WWe left the road and cut across the fields, a long twisting snake of moving men, all following Pancho. Then our long-range machine guns opened up from a thousand foxholes behind us, firing shoulder-level tracers, chains of bright purple lights, toward Jerry’s lines on the river. We had to fall on our hands and knees and crawl to escape our own murderous fire.

At the road running parallel to the river I shouted an inaudible "Good luck!" and ran down the road to the first house in Rurdorf. I was in the cellar in nothing flat. It turned out to be the headquarters of the combat engineers, who are out there in that inferno, trying to put up a pontoon bridge. . Meanwhile the first wave of the infantry is crossing in boats—in all of them except boat No. 13.

0400 hours:

Colonel Robert Anderson of Boise, Idaho, is the commander of the 327th Engineers, who are doing this job and whose headquarters this cellar is. Yesterday, when I interviewed him about his plans for the bridges, he was a picture of poise. Now he chain-smokes and drinks mug after mug of hot black coffee. He has a hard job—probably the hardest job—to do today. His men must put up the bridges to supply and reinforce the infantry. He must do it on sites zeroed in by German guns for months. The Army manual says you cannot build a pontoon bridge in a river with a current of more than five miles an hour. The current at Rurdorf is more than six miles an hour.

The bridge in the vicinity of Rurdorf is not doing well, to understate the situation. The engineers on the flaming river bank are losing the boats which are to be used as pontoons, and the boats are cruising off down the river. Some of the boats Anderson had loaned to the infantry to use as assault craft have been capsizing in the driving stream and floating off. There is now a shortage of boats for pontoons. Colonel Anderson has sent for more. Meanwhile crews are out farther down along the river, trying to salvage the runaway boats.

Anderson himself has just put on his helmet and gone down to the river bank. His communications are shot to hell. Most of his wires have been cut by German artillery, which is plowing the river bank and the village.

0430 hours:

I tried to write this in the medical aid station I just visited down the street. But the little house was overflowing with wounded and I had to leave.

The floor of the main room was sticky with mixed blood and dust. Men with legs broken and purple were lying on stretchers. There were others with their sides gashed wide open. One man was torn up terribly everywhere. Were it not for the tension I think I would be sick. Being scared, tired and confused has some advantages, and this is one of them.

Outside on the streets a deep black night is closing in. I ran from cover to cover until I reached the place where this is being written: the command post of the 405th Regiment in another cellar. This front-line village has certainly altered in appearance during the last hour. I noticed more and more great gaps where houses used to be. And I can hear others rumbling to rubble following blasts all over town. If the infantry doesn’t soon push Jerry back to where his mortars can’t reach this town, there will be nothing left above ground.

Here in the CP, I have run into a combat fatigue case. His name is not Walt but that will serve. He was out on the river bank repairing telephone lines when an 88 hit his buddy right in the back. Walt, a giant of a man, is now sitting on the floor here, crying like a baby. His jacket is splattered with blood and tiny bits of flesh. He is uncontrollable and should be evacuated from the zone of fire. The medics say, though, that there other men who may die if they are not evacuated immediately and Walt must wait. I tried to talk to him but he didn’t hear a word I said.

0600 hours:

I have spent an hour with the commander of the regiment, a gaunt white-haired colonel named Williams. His eyes are inflamed from lack of sleep. He planned the attack last night and is making it tonight. His hands tremble as he points to places on the map.

&"It’s the damned bridges," he explained. "We can’t get one to stay in that current. It cuts them in half like a band saw. We’ve got a battalion of infantry on the other side without supplies and not enough ammunition to last the day out." There is one bridge up now but it can’t stand a load until an auxiliary cable is thrown across. The infantry is still crossing in what boats they can get. And they’re still capsizing and finally reaching shore a mile down the river, wet, cold, uncertain of mines in that unreconnoitered area.

Colonel Williams had called for Alligators to carry his men over faster before the Germans could counterattack. Eight ‘gators were on the way. Not enough. But there were other crossing sites, and they too were clamoring for ‘gators.

There is no word from C Company and Pancho.

0800 hours:

This is an artillery observation post in Rurdorf in the shattered attic of a three-story house. Though it is dawn I can see nothing but the vague outlines of the high ground across the river, and flashes and tracer bullets. A rather thick ground haze covers the horizon.

Captain Jack Potts of Corsicana, Texas, the regiment’s frontline artillery observer, asks me why the hell I stay out in this if I don’t have to. Now that I think of it, it does seem rather silly. I am no hero and every minute of this has been torture to me. But also it’s fascinating.

1000 hours:

The mortar shelling let up a little and I went down to the bridge site. It was not hard to find for the zigzag road was marked by great patches of blood on the plowed earth, by smashed canteens, ripped jackets, splintered rifle butts, and general destruction. It has been an awful night out there.

But the bridge is up. The second cable is being fastened on the other side now. Troops are lining the streets in town waiting to cross. Meanwhile upstream the Alligators are taking others over. We have lost two Alligators this morning.

1100 hours:

The worst has happened. When the bridge was almost complete one of the Alligators upstream got out of hand in the current. It smashed the bridge and broke both cables.

That is not all. The liberated pontoon boats rushed downstream, where they collided with another pontoon bridge a mile away, and shattered that one as well. Colonel Anderson is in misery. My head aches and I am going to try to sleep in the engineers’ cellar.

There is one heartening thing, though: for the first morning in weeks the sky is cloudless. The air is roaring with fighter-bombers. We can see them peeling off into dives, see their guns flashing and hear their tattoo. They will help those weary battered infantrymen on the other side.

1300 hours:

Colonel Anderson has come in and is sitting on a blanket in this cellar room. He says German artillery ceased hitting the river bank an hour ago. The bridge will be completed within a couple of hours. Work has already begun on another, heavier bridge. It will carry tanks and heavy guns to support the infantry.

1400 hours:

It’s a warm, sunny, spring like day outside. I walked back down to the regimental CP without fear. Jerry’s mortars have been pushed way back and can’t reach us any more. His artillery can but apparently the infantry on the other side are giving it enough to do over there.

Colonel Anderson was grinning when I left him back in the engineers’ CP. The bridge is up. Colonel Williams was grinning when I met him in the infantry CP. His whole regiment was over the river. The whole 102d Division was over. It was the first division to get all of its units over the river.

In his general report back to Division and Army Colonel Williams said progress has been extremely good and casualties very low. That is one of the amazing things about war: when you’re right up close everything seems to be confusion, chaos and failure. A single dead or maimed man conjures up images of complete annihilation to you. But back in the rear and with perspective on the whole front it all fits smoothly, neatly, economically in the bigger picture that people hear on their radios and read in newspapers. And once you have got into a war it is that bigger picture that counts.

Before bidding Colonel Williams goodby I asked about Pancho & Co. I was told that Pancho reached his objective hours ahead of time and was knocked out cold by concussion from a German shell. He was not wounded, though, and was brought to in an hour. He resumed command of the company and was working up to his second objective.

I want to hear what form that concussion yarn takes when Pancho tells it a week from now.



THE ROER CROSSING was the most vital and exacting operation of the entire war for the 102d Division. In the furious and confused actions many men emerged as heroes. Others fought in obscurity and anonymity but their efforts were not in vain.,


When his troops encountered unexpectedly heavy enemy fire after crossing the river Lt. Col. LEROY E. FRAZIER, commanding the 3d Battalion, 405th Infantry moved courageously through dense minefields, personally directing the reorganization of assault units. He so inspired his entire command that they overran all opposition and seized their objective despite stubborn resistance. Colonel Frazier was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his outstanding leadership in battle.

After crossing the river Company F, 405th Infantry, was scattered by heavy enemy barrages. Lt. JAMES L. HANSEN, leader of the 1st Platoon, reorganized his unit, personally sought out and killed the enemy manning a machine-gun emplacement that impeded his company’s advance and then led a furious, well conceived attack. Through his courage and outstanding leadership he was largely responsible for the success of his unit in seizing its objective. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Pfc. HENRY V. WHITE, 3d Platoon, Company G, 406th Infantry, was accompanying his unit in the attack when he observed that a grenade, accidentally dislodged, was about to explode. He immediately threw himself on the missile, cradling the force of the explosion with his body, thus saving the lives of his companions. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.



The following men earned the Silver Star Medal.

Pfc. JAMES 0. BAZAR, Pfc. MILLARD S. BYERS, 1st Lt. JAMES 0. LAW, Company L, 405th Infantry ... CP communications having been severed . . . these men volunteered to personally contact the platoons . . . returning across shell-swept fields after completing their mission . . . fighting furiously they assaulted the ambuscade . . . killing and capturing all.

Pfc. HOMER C. FREEMAN, Pfc. MARVIN P. LONG, Medical Detachment, 405th Infantry …as litter bearers they evacuated countless casualties through a minefield . . . the only safe route then available.

Pvt. JAMES S. BROWN, S/Sgt. KENNETH L. WHEATCROFT, Company K, 405th Infantry . . . at Boslar . . . remained in their precarious position . . . despite an armored attack and delivered withering fire into the accompanying infantry ... thus forcing a general withdrawal … then neutralized a machine-gun position.

Pfc. Roy E. BREWER, 1st Lt. JAMES L. H. WHITE, Company L, 405th Infantry . . . at Boslar . . . remained in a forward position .. . hurling grenades at counterattacking forces…forced repeated withdrawals ... preventing a serious breakthrough.

1st Lt. JOHN R. AGNER, Company I, 405th Infantry during the counterattack on Boslar . . moved his platoon forward . . . returning to organize a secondary defense line he engaged and killed a sniper.

1st Lt. RAYMOND 0. AMLING, Company G, 407th Infantry rallied his men . . . led them in an attack ... advanced alone to silence an enemy machine gun.

Lt. Col. ROBERT N. ANDERSON, 327th Engineer Combat Battalion . . . inspired his men by remaining on the shell-swept river . . . to direct construction of the bridges.

Pfc. MANUEL APODACA,, Company K, 405th Infantry at Boslar he remained in position allowing enemy armor to pass over him.. . then opened fire on the accompanying infantry ... forcing them to withdraw in confusion.

S/Sgt. BERNARD L. BEAULAC, Company F, 405th Infantry assumed command of two isolated squads . . . reorganized . . . led them through minefields and fire to rejoin their unit.

T/4 JAMES F. BERRY, Headquarters Company, 407th Infantry . . . maintained radio communications . . . ln a nerve-wracking exposed position for fifteen hours ... thus assuring successful control of the cross operations.

2d Lt. GEORGE P. BOHLANDER, Company C, 327th Engineer Combat Battalion . . . assumed command of a platoon rallied his men under rocket and artillery barrages . . inspired everyone by his gallant leadership.

Pfc. MANUEL BRITO, Company F, 405th Infantry…. alone he wiped out a machine-gun position . . thus enabling his platoon to seize its objective.


1st Lt. MANLEY W. CLARK, Company G, 405th Infantry ... his platoon halted by intense fire . .. he boldly rose to his feet . . . and single-handedly assaulted the enemy position …. . killing or capturing all.

S/Sgt. SHELDON T. CLARK, Company L, 405th Infantry. . observing a near miss on an occupied foxhole . . . he made his way under the heavy barrage . . . to dig out two soldiers . . . thus saving their lives.


T/Sgt. JOHN E. CLOUSER, Company G, 405th Infantry assumed command of his platoon . . . exposed himself

to draw enemy fire . . . thus locating several hidden emplacements . . . and directed their neutralization.

Capt. GLYNN M. COVINGTON, 2d Battalion, 407th Infantry . . . expedited the crossing . . . by his continued presence at the bridge site . .. carried a wounded man to safety then returned to his dangerous post.

T/Sgt. JOHN C. CREE, Company H, 407th Infantry moved freely over the battlefield in the face of withering fire . . . to place reinforcements . . . and directed delivery of accurate fire.


Pfc. ALBERT C. CURTISS, Company F, 407th Infantry ... voluntarily left his position to secure much needed ammunition . . . returned with sufficient to save his unit . . . but was killed shortly thereafter.

Pfc. JOSEPH A. DE MAY, Company B, 405th Infantry.. assumed command of his platoon . . . reorganized it and successfully repulsed a counterattack . . . brilliant leadership.

1st Lt. WILLIAM EVANKO, Cannon Company, 407th Infantry . . . assaulted a machine gun killing the crew with pistol fire . . . led his observer party to a vantage point to place accurate supporting fire on enemy positions.

Pfc. FOREST EVANS, Medical Detachment, 405th Infantry. . during the Boslar counterattack . . . he continued to evacuate the wounded through a minefield . . . administered first aid . . comforted the stricken.


Capt. DONALD H. EVENSON, Company F, 405th Infantry ... rallied his company ... inspired his command . . . led them to the immediate seizure of their objective.

Pfc. EDWARD S. FEDAK, Company G, 405th Infantry exposed himself to draw enemy fire . . . then directed neutralizing fire on the hostile positions thus discovered.

S/Sgt. WILLIAM G. FISHER, Company B, 405th Infantry assumed command of his platoon . . . and led its ferocious attack . . . advanced alone to neutralize an enemy position . . . returned for his men who then captured their objective.

Sgt. PAUL E. FLEISSNER, Company G, 405th Infantry ... assumed command of a squad . . . then alone assaulted and silenced three enemy machine guns . . . before he was fatally wounded.

1st Lt. JAMES S. GASKELL, JR., Company A, 407th Infantry . . . rallied his men . . . led the assault . . . seized the objective . . . then rushed to the aid of his wounded men.

S/Sgt. ORLANDO P. GIRALDI, Company L, 405th Infantry crawled 150 yards to reorganize . . . and led back a platoon that had been isolated.

Pfc. BOYD L. GRIFFIN, Company E, 407th Infantry ….disregarding grazing fire . . . he assaulted the machine gun bayoneting the entire crew.

Sgt. RAYMOND P. GRIFFIN, Company L, 406th Infantry at Boslar . . . made four trips across enemy terrain to secure vital supplies and ammunition . . . to locate and contact isolated groups . . . and coordinate support.

1st Lt. LOUIS M. HANNUM, Antitank Company, 406th Infantry. . . while placing his antitank weapons... met heavy opposition ... he assaulted the hostile group alone . . . and silenced their fire.

S/Sgt. JAMES V. HENNESSY, Company L, 406th Infantry at Boslar . . . coolly directed the establishment of a defense in the face of a counterattack . . . delivered withering fire for a period of three hours . . . forcing a withdrawal.

Pfc. NEIL F. HURLEY, Company K, 405th Infantry at Boslar . . . rescued a wounded comrade from the path of an oncoming counterattack . . . and directed effective rocket fire at enemy armor.

Capt. FRANK A. ICHRIST, Company L, 405th Infantry ... during the Boslar counterattack . . . he personally contacted every man in his company . . . spreading confidence and encouragement.

Pfc. EMMET E. JAMES, Company G, 407th Infantry…..crawled through a minefield to force the surrender of a hostile gun crew pinning down his company . . . then led his unit through the enemy defenses.

Pfc. GARLAND P. JENNINGS, Company A, 407th Infantry alone braved the fire of a hostile machine gun ... unflinchingly crawled under its fire to destroy it with grenades.

S/Sgt. JOHN J. JOHNSON, Company C, 405th Infantry.. reconnoitered a minefield at night . . . returned through heavy fire with vital information ... led his company around the obstacle.

Pfc. JOHN A. JORDAN, Company H, 407th Infantry took the place of his forward observer who was killed advanced with his radio deep into enemy territory to direct accurate mortar fire ... mortally wounded by a sniper.

Pfc. THEODORE L. KERN, Company L, 405th Infantry ... crawled over several hundred yards of open terrain . . . to destroy a machine gun impeding his platoon’s advance.

Sgt. ROBERT L. KLEIN, Company K, 405th Infantry ….although wounded . . . he remained during a counterattack to insure the safety of his men . . . evacuated one of his comrades . . . and secured medical attention for other casualties.

Pfc. ARTHUR H. KROUT, Medical Detachment, 405th Infantry . . . reassured his wounded comrades . . . organized evacuation squads on the battlefield . . . and remained on the shell-swept ground to administer first aid.

1st Lt. RAYMOND E. LEE, 3d Battalion, 405th Infantry led a convoy across the river . . . despite enemy air attacks then personally delivered ammunition to the widely scattered companies of the battalion.

T/3 MARION M. LEWIS, Medical Detachment, 407th Infantry . . . crossed and recrossed the bombarded river evacuating wounded . . . entered an unknown minefield ... to rescue casualties.

1st Lt. OSCAR H. LEWIS, Company H, 407th Infantry hearing that assistance was needed in reorganizing his platoon . . . he rejoined his unit although painfully wounded and led a machine-gun section to a vantage point, . . from which he directed effective supporting fire.

S/Sgt. EUGENE R. LILLBACK, Company G, 405th Infantry ... assumed command of his platoon. . . pinned down ... he made his way through a minefield . . . single-handedly assaulted the enemy position . . . enabling his unit to advance.

1st Lt. IRVING J. LONDY, Company H, 407th Infantry ... emplaced his mortars despite intense enemy fire . . . reconnoitered hostile territory for future displacements . . . killing and capturing a number of the enemy.

Capt. ROBERT W. MACKENZIE, JR., Company M, 405th Infantry . . . counterattacked at Boslar . . . he visited all of the scattered elements of his widely spread company inspiring all with his confidence and courage

Capt. SHEALY C. MCCOY, 6th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron . . . organized an assault force . . . and led it in the destruction of a heavily armed pillbox.

2d Lt. Robert F. MCCLELLAN,  Company B, 407th Infantry ... to divert enemy fire from an evacuation route . . . he exposed himself and was killed

1st Lt. JOHN R. McCRAE, Antitank Company, 405th Infantry . . . during a crisis resulting from the destruction of a bridge ... he carried ammunition across the river by pulling himself hand-over-hand on a single cable.

S/Sgt. HENRY F. METZGER, Company C, 406th Infantry led his squad in a bayonet assault . . . to capture forty prisoners . . . and overrun the hostile position.

1st Lt. IRVING R. NELSON, 379th Field Artillery Battalion ... crawled five hundred yards ahead of the infantry assault wave to locate and destroy enemy gun positions . . . his entire observation section casualties . . . he alone continued to render effective support

Sgt. WAYNE F. OBERDIEK, Company B, 405th Infantry ignoring his wounds he accompanied his comrades in the attack . . . crawled seventy-five yards to comfort a wounded soldier. . . retrieved an automatic weapon . . . and silenced two enemy machine guns.

T/Sgt. PAUL M. ORR, Company G, 405th Infantry when his boat capsized . . . he succeeded in rescuing four comrades . . . under heavy artillery fire.

T/Sgt. JOHN W. PHARRIS, Company B, 405th Infantry ... assumed command of his company . . . led it in an assault to seize the objective . . . established a defense which repulsed repeated counterattacks.

Capt. CLARK W. PORTER, Company G, 407th Infantry inspiring and gallant leadership during the Roer crossing.

Capt. DANIEL W. PRATT, 1st Battalion, 405th Infantry ... reconnoitering for a command post location . . . he encountered a hostile pocket by-passed by the assault wave he led his men through severe fire to capture all the enemy and liberate two- Americans held prisoner.

1st Lt. HYMAN RABINOVITZ, Company F, 405th Infantry moved with utter disregard for enemy fire to comfort and inform his men . . . evacuated and treated casualties . . . recovered assault boats.

T/4 WILLIAM N. RICHARDS, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 407th Infantry . . . unhesitatingly plunged into the river to rescue two comrades and carry them to safety ... when a bridge collapsed.

S/Sgt. Lewis E. RILEY, Company H, 407th Infantry braved intense fire to deliver ammunition . . . wounded by a shellburst ... he nevertheless continued . . . to attack and kill an enemy who threatened an isolated unit from the rear.

S./Sgt. JOHN C. ROELL, JR., Company I, 405th Infantry at Boslar .. . led his squad to a vantage point . . . to fire on approaching enemy ... remained in this precarious position although outflanked ... causing utter confusion in the hostile infantry . .. killed.

Col. WILLIAM L. ROGERS, 1141st Engineer Combat Group … disregarding intense artillery mortar rocket and automatic weapons . . . he displayed outstanding personal gallantry while directing the efforts of his engineer group during the river crossing.

Pfc. CLIFFORD E. RYON, Company K, 405th Infantry ... painfully wounded by a rocket blast . . he nevertheless advanced with his sergeant to attack and repulse with rockets . . . enemy tanks.

Capt. GEORGE F. SCHROEDER, Company A, 405th Infantry .. despite his wounds . . . he rallied his men and directed the attack.

T/Sgt. NICHOLS SCIARRO, Company G, 405th Infantry... caught under an intense barrage . . . he dashed forward to outflank an enemy emplacement . . . captured ten prisoners.., enabled his platoon to advance.

Lt. Col. WOODSON D. Scott, 1st Battalion, 406th Infantry inspiring and gallant leadership ... under heavy enemy fire.

Pfc. WILLIAM J. Scott, Pvt. ROBERT D. VAN ORDEN, Company K, 405th Infantry . . . during the Boslar counterattack remained in their precarious position ... fighting off repeated enemy efforts . . . until both were killed by a direct artillery hit.

1st Lt. ARNOLD SHORT, 3d Battalion, 405th Infantry following the Boslar counterattacks . . . he made his way over shell-swept terrain to secure secret information on future operations.

Pfc. JOHN M. SKENE, Company F, 405th Infantry when his boat capsized . . . he rescued two comrades and though exhausted . . . continued with his unit in a furious attack.

S/Sgt. GEORGE E. SMITH, Company F, 405th Infantry ... observing that flanking fire endangered rear elements of assault troops ... he single-handedly attacked the emplacement ... killed the occupants . . . and reduced this threat.

T/Sgt. ANDREW STRONCZER, Company G, 405th Infantry assumed command of his platoon ... reorganized them... and crawled forward alone to capture twenty-five enemy that had inflicted heavy casualties.

1st Lt. JOSEPH J. SUNGENIS, Medical Detachment, 407th Infantry . . . disregarded enemy fires to establish a forward aid station . . - rescued two wounded soldiers in a furious battle .. helped in extinguishing a fire.

Sgt. CARL TAYLOR, Company G, 405th Infantry ... assumed command of his platoon . . . reorganized . . . led it to capture the objective.

Capt. CHESTER H. TWENTYMAN, Company C, 405th Infantry . . . made his way across shell-swept terrain to assault and silence an emplacement . . . captured nine prisoners enabled his company to advance.

T/Sgt. ROBERT J. WALSH, Company K, 405th Infantry exposed himself to hidden enemy ... thus drawing their fire and revealing their location . . . then directed effective neutralizing fire upon their position.

Pfc. BENJAMIN J. ZALESKI, 405th Infantry . . . remained in position during a devastating counterattack . . . his withering fire was largely instrumental in forcing the enemy’s withdrawal.


The following men won Oak Leaf Clusters to their Silver Star Medals.

1st Lt. ROBERT M. LEACH, Company A, 405th Infantry remained in an exposed position to direct the safe crossing of his company . . . made his way through a minefield to reach his wounded captain and administer first aid . assumed command of the company.

1st Lt. JAMES D. RAPP, 1st Battalion, 405th Infantry …calmly and heroically evacuated the wounded from the battlefield . . - reassuring and encouraging everyone by his coolness.

1st Lt. WILLARD W. WHITE, 3d Battalion, 405th Infantry... evacuated the wounded from exposed positions.. . during the Boslar counterattacks.

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