Wednesday, November 9, 2011

German-Russian Received Medals after 65 Years

“If we are to heed the past to prepare for the future, we should listen to the voices of those who speak to us of duty, honor, sacrifice and accomplishment.  More of their stories should be preserved and cherished as reminders of all that we owe them and all that we can learn from them.”    Tom Brokaw

On Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1985, my brother, Albert Elenberger, was presented with the Bronze Star Medal.  It came 40 years after he left the service.  The medal was authorized by executive order August 24, 1962, but no one knew why he had not received it.  The certificate was addressed to Technician Fourth Grade Albert Elenberger, U.S. Army for “meritorious achievement in ground combat against the armed enemy during World War II in the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater of Operations. 

Albert received the Purple Heart Medal on April 28, 1945, when he was wounded.  He was hit by shrapnel about 10 miles outside of Munich.  Albert was unattached, meaning he did not have a division so he was sent as a replacement and caught the tail end of the Battle of the Bulge.  They crossed the Maginot and Siegfried lines, both of which had land mines and other obstacles to overcome.  Albert told me, "Infantry casements were a problem for the troops, with forces bunking inside and firing anti-tank and twin-machine guns.  The Rainbow Division was waiting for massive concrete barricades to be torn down on the Siegfried line.  These barricades, called Dragon's tooth, were tank traps that made crossing the field in the heavy, armored vehicles impossible."

Albert shared more of what he remembered with me.  He told me, "I remember the dense barbed wire that had to be crossed once the tank traps were out of the way."  It was difficult for my brother to continue with the story, but he went on.  He spoke of crossing fields, swimming half the Rhine, and the Blue Danube which ran red with the blood of lost men.  "I was a Corporal in The 42 Infantry Division known as the Rainbow Division.  We passed concentration camps and prisons, freeing people as we went.  When our infantry came to the small town called Leitzing, I was hit with shrapnel."
Albert was then transferred to the traffic division and became a Sergeant. He began escorting American, French, and British Generals.  Once when he escorted General Eisenhower his bike would not start at the airport.  The General heard of the problems with the bikes and provided a contact number and information to replace them.  Albert also escorted General Patton into France and back out again.  A few days later, the jeep Patton was riding in was in an accident in Germany and he was killed. 

This photo was taken in the annual VJ Day parade in France. The parade went around the Arc de Triomphe at Champs-Elysees, the Arch of Triumph.  In the middle of the arch is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Albert remembers relighting the torch when it was America's responsibility to do so.  

Christmas Eve, 2010, my brother received the following medals from U.S. Army TA-COM, 65 years after the end of WWII:  
Bronze Star Medal (November 11, 1985)
Purple Heart (April 28, 1945)
Good Conduct Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 2 bronze service stars
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal with Germany clasp
Combat Infantryman Badge lst Award
Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII
Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar 

I am proud of my brother, Albert, and thank him and all who have served our country.