It happened 67-years ago this January. It was an occasion that few people take note of or know much about. It was an event meant to be seared into the minds of every American combat soldier serving at the time. It was 1945 and in France the fighting of a World War was fierce.
Eddie, a Polish-American born in 1920, had grown up during the depression on the mean streets of Detroit. A petty thief when 12-years old he was arrested several times and incarcerated twice as a teenager. Released from reform school after a short-term for breaking and entering he was sent to prison for stealing and crashing a car while drunk at 19. Three years later in April 1941 Eddie was once again released. He found work in Dearborn, Michigan and at the age of 22 married Antoinette Wisniewski.
Originally deemed unfit for military service because of his criminal record Eddie was later reclassified and drafted in the Army in January 1944. Times were tough in those days, America needed every able-bodied man it could get. Even an ex-con would do with war raging around the globe. Eight months later, described as frail, timid and somewhat a misfit, definitely not military material, Eddie joined the troops in France as part of the historic 28th Infantry Division.
Two things would play a major role for Eddie and his future. One, he was familiar with prison life and running afoul of the law. And two, he did not want to fight.