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Walter Ehlers, last living Medal of Honor recipient from D-Day, dies

Feb. 21, 2014 - 03:37PM   |  
Ehlers (Army)
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Staff Sgt. Walter Ehlers, the last Medal of Honor recipient from the D-Day invasion in 1944, has died at the age of 92, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

Ehlers was born on May 7, 1921, in Junction City, Kan., according to his biography on the society’s website.

On June 9, 1944, he was serving with the 1st Infantry Division near Goville, France, when he led his men against heavily defended enemy positions.

“Without waiting for an order, Staff Sgt. Ehlers, far ahead of his men, led his squad against a strongly defended enemy strong point, personally killing 4 of an enemy patrol who attacked him en route,” his award citation says. “Then crawling forward under withering machinegun fire, he pounced upon the guncrew and put it out of action.”

Ehlers then led an attack on enemy mortars, killing three enemy soldiers himself. Next, he took out an enemy machine gun position although greatly outnumbered.

By the next day, Ehlers’ platoon had advanced deep into enemy territory, the citation says. Facing an “untenable position,” Ehlers covered his squad’s withdrawal by standing up to draw the enemy’s fire.

“At this point, though wounded himself, he carried his wounded automatic rifleman to safety and then returned fearlessly over the shell-swept field to retrieve the automatic rifle which he was unable to carry previously,” the citation says. “After having his wound treated, he refused to be evacuated, and returned to lead his squad. The intrepid leadership, indomitable courage, and fearless aggressiveness displayed by Staff Sgt. Ehlers in the face of overwhelming enemy forces serve as an inspiration to others.”

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