Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Tribute to My Grandfather

i don't know much about my family history. I never knew my father, and I have been trying to dig up information on my mother's family. I guess her parents (my grandparents) did not offer much in the way of their history. The other day I found some old letters my grandfather sent my mother when she was in the Army, soon after WWII ended. My grandfather passed down a proud legacy of military service to my mother who continued in his footsteps by becoming a WAC. It was the best time in her life. She traveled all over Europe and was apparantly a cryptographer, deciphering tip secret messages. But back to my grandfather.....

My grandfather was an engineer in the 4th Division. I found out he participated in the Western Front in WWI. I was able to find out that he received some very prestigious medals, one being the Distinguished Service Cross, which is the medal right below the Medal of Honor, and he also received the Croix de Guerre with Two Palms from the French. He also received the Medaille Militaire. Apparantly only 22 foreigners had received that medal, which was rarely bestowed upon foreigners, one of them being Winston Churchill. I found out that being an engineer was one of the most dangerous occupations a soldier could have. Once WWII started, my grandfather signed up again.

I want to share what is written on my grandfather's grave which is located at Arlington Cemetery.

Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army
Home: Kingman, Arizona
Company C, 4th Engineers, 4th Division, A.E.F.
Date of Action: August 6 & 8, 1918
General Orders No. 46, W.D., 1919

The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to William B. Beach, Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army, for repeated acts of extraordinary heroism in action near St. Thibaut, France, August 6 and 8, 1918.

Being a member of a covering detachment sent out to protect a detail which was constructing a bridge over the Vesle River, Sergeant Beach voluntarily left his squad and fought his way alone down the river, in order to locate an enemy machine-gun nest. The flashes from his automatic rifle drew fire from the enemy, and he was forced to jump into the river for protection. Swimming back to his squad, he organized a detail and led it in a successful attack on the hostile position.

Two nights later, after this bridge had been destroyed, this soldier, with three others, volunteered to rebuild the bridge. Under continuous fire from the enemy, he swam the river several times, and set the posts for the bridge, thereby making possible the infantry attack on the following morning.

United States Army
DATE OF BIRTH: 07/07/1893
DATE OF DEATH: 08/30/1954


At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post, Candy. My maternal grandfather was an engineer in WW II, also. Don't know a whole lot about that part of his life, but it's nice to find a kindred spirit.

Here are my Memorial Day thoughts, partly on another family member.

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Homemanager said...

A wonderful post of tribute and a great reminder of the cost for many men and women who serve our country.

At 4:35 PM, Blogger candyinsierras said...

Thanks Karen. Yes, I was very blessed to discover some of my grandfather's stories. I never knew until recently, and it makes the past more personal. I taught history, but didn't relate to WWI stories until I found out my grandfather was involved.

At 1:37 PM, Blogger Bob Beach said...


Was just going through my dad's memorabilia (John Beach) and found the actual metals.



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