Medal of Honor recipient Walter Ehlers died Thursday at age 92.
Walter D. Ehlers was born May 7, 1921 in Junction City, Kansas. In October 1940, he and his brother Roland enlisted in the Army and Walter would go on to be part of the 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, where he and his unit stormed the beach on the second wave of the D-Day Normandy invasion.
His brother Roland was killed in the invasion. Staff Sergeant Ehlers heroic actions on the battlefield near Goville, France during June 9- 10, 1944 led to him being awarded the Medal of Honor. After receiving the award, he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and left the Army after five years of service.
After the war he returned to Kansas and later moved to California, where he retired from the Veterans Administration. He leaves behind his wife Dorothy, three children, 11 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. Take a moment to read the citation of a hero.
Medal of Honor Citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 9-10 June 1944, near Goville, France.
S/Sgt. Ehlers, always acting as the spearhead of the attack, repeatedly led his men against heavily defended enemy strong points exposing himself to deadly hostile fire whenever the situation required heroic and courageous leadership. Without waiting for an order, S/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. Then crawling forward under withering machinegun fire, he pounced upon the guncrew and put it out of action. Turning his attention to 2 mortars protected by the crossfire of 2 machineguns, S/Sgt. Ehlers led his men through this hail of bullets to kill or put to flight the enemy of the mortar section, killing 3 men himself.
After mopping up the mortar positions, he again advanced on a machinegun, his progress effectively covered by his squad. When he was almost on top of the gun he leaped to his feet and, although greatly outnumbered, he knocked out the position single-handed.
The next day, having advanced deep into enemy territory, the platoon of which S/Sgt. Ehlers was a member, finding itself in an untenable position as the enemy brought increased mortar, machinegun, and small arms fire to bear on it, was ordered to withdraw. S/Sgt. Ehlers, after his squad had covered the withdrawal of the remainder of the platoon, stood up and by continuous fire at the semicircle of enemy placements, diverted the bulk of the heavy hostile fire on himself, thus permitting the members of his own squad to withdraw.
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. 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 S/Sgt. Ehlers in the face of overwhelming enemy forces serve as an inspiration to others.