Willie Bader – “I can do it, Skipper!” (Part 3)

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In the previous post, Mr. Willie Bader’s humble character allowed him to share only what was necessary about his deeds which caused him to be awarded the Silver Star Medal.  Following is the actual transcription of his heroic actions on the Citation awarding him this high honor: 

HEADQUARTERS 5TH INFANTRY DIVISION

OFFICE OF THE COMMANDING GENERAL

Award of the Silver Star Medal

Citation

Sergeant (then Private First Class) William Bader, Infantry, 2d Infantry Regiment, United States Army.

For gallantry in action on 7 March 1945 near Schwarzenborn, Germany.

Oblivious to devastating enemy tank and automatic weapons fire, Sergeant Bader, a communication sergeant, with utter disregard for personal safety, tenaciously held his position, thereby repelling numerous fanatical enemy counterattacks. Although painfully wounded, he ignored the entreaties of his comrades and refused to be evacuated.  Exposed to enemy observation he unfalteringly entered the heavy fire to assist the many wounded. Advancing on a strong enemy emplacement, he destroyed it, killing and capturing enemy personnel.  His indomitable courage and intrepid actions are in keeping with the highest military traditions.  Entered military service from Massachusetts.

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“When the war was over [May 8, 1945], the captain came to me and said, “Willie, we have to go to Bavaria.”

“I said, ‘What do you mean, Skipper?  The war’s over. What’s in Bavaria?’

“He said, ‘Hitler’s shock troopers won’t give up.  They’re in the Bavarian Alps over there – they’re in the hills of Bavaria.’

“I said, ‘But the war’s over!’

“’Not to them.’

“Now, that was the hardest part of my fighting, to think that I’m going to get killed after the war is over. [chuckles]

“The 2nd Infantry Regiment was assigned to Bavaria. And we went there. And sure enough, they wouldn’t give up. After about a month – down comes a German sergeant and a lieutenant.  And a lieutenant and I went out to meet them.  They said they want to give up.

“And we said, ‘Good! Bring your men down.’

Fullscreen capture 2242014 91035 PM.bmp“So help me, they said, ‘Not to you two. We want a full eagle,’ [pointing to the top of his shoulder]. They still had pride in themselves, you see.They wanted a full eagle, and this is the truth! 

“They said, ‘Not a silver leaf, — that’s a lieutenant colonel. We want a colonel with the eagle.’

“And we called regiment and regiment sent a colonel there as quick as they could.  And that ended the war for us.”

“Then the captain was promoted to Battalion Commander and he took me with him and he said ‘You’re going to be Battalion NCO.”

“And I became Battalion NCO.

“He says,’…Well I can’t tell you what he said.  That wouldn’t be appropriate.

“But anyway, I said, ‘Skipper, it’s time for me to go home.’

“He said, ‘Oh, Willie!  Stay with me.  I’ll take care of you.’

“[I told him] my age is catching up on me.  Twenty-four years old. I’m going to get out of this service.  And then I gotta go to school after that someplace.  But anyways, I didn’t want to fight anymore.  While I was fighting, I gave my all, but if no fighting was there, no.

Nahannie “Namie” Bader

8th Air Force – 351st Bomb Group 509th Bomb Squadron

“Every one of my brothers, we joined, except me.  They did their part. And my brother, Namie, was on this plane, the “Concho Clipper”– an this is a good story.  One you’ll never believe.

“Mr. Woehrle [pronounced “Whirly”] was part of the crew. Westover Field in Massachusetts is the airport that they did their training in, okay?  He [Namie] played baseball for the team, but he told the captain, ‘I came to fight.  Not to play baseball.’ And he was sincere about it.  It was his allegiance to his country.

Fullscreen capture 1252014 103626 PM.bmp“[Mr. Woehrle] says, ‘Willie, we got together in Maine. The whole crew of the ‘Concho Clipper’ got together in Maine. From there we flew to England.  And we’re a part of the 8th Airforce.’

“In the early part of the war, the Germans controlled the air almost 100%.  And [they were] shot down early in the war. Message comes from Washington that my brother is missing in action. Two years.

“Three of the crew members survived and were taken prisoner and they were hurt real bad.  We [didn’t] know that [then], but this is what Mr. Woehrle is telling me now.

“After the war is over — we eventually get word from the War Department that he was killed over a small town in France.  And [the survivors] were not released until the war was over.  So when the war is over, we don’t really know how my brother Namie died.  All we know is he was missing in action two years until they found his grave in [that] little town in France.

“And I don’t know Mr. Woehrle either.  So in the meantime, I have a niece who loved my brother because – all my brothers were upstanding good boys. This is the truth.  We never got in fights.  We never got in trouble.

“Namie was wide and strong, good-looking and handsome.  He wasn’t like you have handsome people today – 6’2’’ and all that stuff, but anyway – she loved him and she bragged to her daughter on what a wonderful boy he was.  Her daughter eventually became a lawyer.

“Now there’s a place in Washington, DC, and you can [write] on a tag and put [it] on a table.  And someone puts it on the web — ‘Hey, you know where this guy is?’ or ‘Hey, you know anything about this?’ Her daughter, the lawyer, writes [his name] on [a tag], ‘…if you know anything about Namie Bader who was in World War II … and the name of the plane, the ‘Concho Clipper” please write me.’

“Listen and learn — [chuckles] This little item was put on the Web.  A man in Holland is writing about the 8th Air Force and he sees this – Namie Bader.  And the man in Holland knows Mr. Woehrle who lives in Minnesota because he’s writing a book about the 8th Air Force and Mr. Woehrle is the last surviving member of this plane.  Now, Mr. Woehrle has contacted all of the [crew members families].  But he’s still looking for Namie Bader.

“So the guy in Holland calls Mr. Woehrle, [with the information.]

“[We are all at her house for Christmas.] And Mr. Woehrle calls and says, ‘I was on the same plane that your brother was on when it was shot down.’ He told us the whole story.

“‘You know, he saved my life about two times on the plane over the course of a year and a half.’

“Later I called Mr. Woehrle about his books [I have] here and he sent them, and I thanked him. 

“[Then] he said, “Willie, I’m going to France, me and my [grandson] are going to France — to the town – they’re going to celebrate the “Concho Clipper” for trying to help the people of France save their country.’

“The French government sent a television crew to Mr. Woehrle’s house in Minnesota and they interviewed and took pictures of him because this little town, maybe eight, nine hundred people, was commemorating the plane that tried to save France.

“They tell him, ‘You’re going to be guests of Air France and fly all the way to France at our expense.’

“When they got over there, they treated him like a king.

[Referring to the book by Mr. Worhle] “There’s a picture in there of the town and they have all of the members of the plane on a plaque [in that town].

“Now you listen to this. They also have the name of the German plane that shot them down to let people know that France and Germany were friends again.  They got the American soldiers up there and then they got that solo [German] pilot’s name up there.  

“This guy is something though. [Mr. Woehrle has] spent his whole life[on this project] – he was ninety-two when he called me.  It’s amazing.

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“The story of the hat – there’s a man who lives in North Carolina named John Seamus and he believes his uncle died a hero and he should have a hero’s burial.  He died at the Battle of the Bulge.  Now we’re talking about sixty-nine years later because he died in 1944-45 in the Battle of the Bulge. John has called every Battle of the Bulge member in the state of Louisiana – twenty-two people who were in the Battle of the Bulge — if they would come to this ceremony. And he asked each one of them what kind of decorations they got.  And so out of the twenty-two, sixteen said they could attend the ceremony.

“His uncle lived in Iota, Louisiana and the family name of the uncle is LeJeune. And John Seamus told me that he had letters from – a flag from the Belgium Embassy, a flag from the Luxembourg  Embassy, he had a letter from [Lousiana Gov.] Jindal, he had a letter from President Bush, commending him on what he was doing.

“And we met in Iota and he presented each one of us with a hat with this emblem of the Battle of the Bulge and the medals that we had won.  And I always wear this hat, not because I won these medals, but it represents all of the fellows that were in the Battle of the Bulge.  And one other thing.  He had the whole town of Iota involved in the ceremony.  It was amazing to see the youngest and the oldest at that ceremony.  It was a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful thing.

SONY DSC“And now the jacket –  this is an Eisenhower jacket that was issued to me in 1944 when I went overseas to fight in World War II. The jacket is sixty-nine years old and it’s still almost as new as it was when they gave it to me. 

“Now up here [on each side of the collar] these two emblems represent the United States Army with the crossed rifles.

[Lower on the collar] “This is the second infantry regiment with the feathers being crossed.

“This is a discharge emblem [small gold pin] and this is an honorable discharge emblem.[yellow patch]

“Over here [on upper left shoulder] this is the emblem of the 5th Division. [red diamond] They called us the red diamond boys in World War II.  The Germans called us the Red Devils because we were great fighters.

“Combat infantry badge [light blue bar pin] – You get this if you had taken Basic Training and the wreath says I was in combat.  You may see one without the wreath and you may see one with the wreath.

SONY DSC“This is the Purple Heart for being wounded in action and it has my name on the back.  Every person in the wars gets the Purple Heart if they are wounded.

SONY DSC“This is the ETO – the European Theater of Operations medal [on right].  The three stars – each of these stars may represent five or ten battles.  In the European Theater, you might have the Battle of Southern France, then you might have Central France, then you might have Luxembourg area or the German area.

“This is the Bronze Star for gallantry in action. [middle star]  We took out a machine gun nest – a buddy and I.  The captain asked for volunteers and I volunteered for this.

“This one [Silver Star Medal – on left] was for saving my platoon sergeant’s life.  He was hurt real bad and that’s the third highest medal you can get in the army, where you have the Medal of Honor, the DSC [Distinguished Service Cross], and then this is the Silver Star.

SONY DSC“This is the Good Conduct medal [on right] saying that I was a good boy both when fighting and when not fighting.

“This is the Medal of Occupation [top, middle].

“This is the Freedom Medal, I believe [left].

“This one says that I was in the service of our country from the years of ’45 to something – the Duration Medal [bottom].

[Two gold bar patches on the left sleeve] “Each one of these represent six months oversea duty.

[Rank insignia] “And this is Staff Sergeant.  I was Battalion NCO at the end of the war.  That was a promotion they gave me.

“But this is our jacket. Besides good men, they made good jackets also. [chuckles]

Thank you SO much for letting me interview you today.

“I’m glad I had that stuff to go over with you — especially Mr. Woerhle’s story and ohhhh, my brother Namie. What a champion he was.

“That hat.  I wear that hat a lot.  If anyone says anything about it, I tell them, ‘Hey, it’s not me – it’s those fellows who were in the Battle of the Bulge and didn’t make it’.  I wear it as much as I can because they deserve it.”

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