Heroes, giants, common men
On Sunday I met with Captain Ed and his wife for lunch. I had invited Ed and Marcia to meet with Herb Suerth. Mr. Suerth is the President of E Company, (of 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment) 101st Airborne (The Screaming Eagles)). E Company is also known as "The Band of Brothers" from the Steven Ambrose book and HBO mini-series.
Mr. Suerth joined E Company just before they were dispatched to Bastogne in the Ardennes Offensive (called the Battle of the Bulge)-as Mr. Suerth said "sort of a bad place to come in." And Mr. Suerth was badly wounded in Bastogne when an 88 shell exploded nearby, with a piece of shrapnel penetrating and shattering both femurs. Mr. Suerth was subsequently hospitalized for 18 months.
What prompted this Sunday lunch was an idea I had almost two years ago. I had read "Band of Brothers" and was looking forward to seeing the mini-series on the History Channel for the 60th Anniversary of D-Day. After the series I was doing an internet search on Major Winters and came across a site that was dedicated to getting Maj. Winters the Medal of Honor that he was cited for. On D-Day he led a critically important mission to take out what were thought to be a few German 88mm cannons. It turned out that there were four 105mm howitzers raining down deadly accurate fire on Utah beach. Major (then Lieutenant) Winters lead 17 men (basically a large squad) against the heavily fortified position (at least company strength of 90 crack German troops and at least two of the most feared guns in the German arsenal, the MG42) and took out all four of these deadly accurate howitzers.
Unfortunately,in the citation for the MOH, Col. Sink (regiment commander who wrote the citation for Lt. Winter's MOH) ran into a top level decision that has military bureaucracy written all over it: the decision to ration the MOH to only one per division for the Normandy Campaign,
Well, this site had letters from Stephen Ambrose and C.Carwood Lipton supporting the correction of this injustice to Maj. Winters. I found and called the number for Mr. Lipton and talked to his widow. Mrs. Lipton gave me Mr. Suerth's name. And so I started talking to Mr. Suerth. I found that the effort in 2003 was ultimately unsuccessful. But, being quarter Swede I'm persistent (read stubborn). And it occurred to me that there may be a better way.
I asked my friend John Hunt at AM1280 The Patriot what we might be able to do. He suggested that I start with the bloggers.
I had met Captain Ed and the First Mate at a Patriot function and so contacted him about the possibility of a project to honor a WWII veteran. As a blogger of the first rank, Ed had and has the reach that I didn't. We met for lunch a few months back. I explained the project and much to his credit Captain Ed was on board immediately. And this lead to Mr. Suerth, Captain Ed, the First Mate and I meeting for lunch.
Captain Ed recorded the interview and wrote a wonderful review of it here. And he's done a much better job than I have in capturing Mr. Suerth's personality, his humor, his kind directness and his humility.
Captain Ed and I will be updating you all as we progress with the campaign to get Major Winter's his MOH. And we'll also be asking all of you to become involved with the effort