Mr. Jimmy Ewing:
“We went (south) to Percy, France (toward the end of July, 1944) through August sometime. There was a hilltop. Sargent B.G. Fitzgerald out of Virginia – great guy, only two or three years older than the rest of us but he was like father. We really relied on his judgement.
“There was a soldier who’d been hit and I told Sgt. Fitzgerald I was going to go see if I could help him. He was in lot of pain, making a lot of noise, and there really wasn’t anybody else around him. The sergeant said don’t carry any weapon, take your handkerchief and wrap it around your arm; show you’re not an enemy combatant. (When I got to the wounded soldier) he asked if I could help him. His wound was in his stomach. Our training was to never give a soldier water if he was gutshot, so to say. I said, I can’t do anything. He said, “Can I have a drink?” I said, I can’t give you a drink, but I took my handkerchief and wetted it with my canteen and put it on his head where he could wet his lips with it. I wiped his wound. He asked for his mother…
“Right after that we were finally relieved and a medic came out.”
Mr. Jimmy never heard what happened to the wounded soldier.
“It was the same as if your child is hurt or something, you’ve got to help him, that’s all. You’ve just got to do it.
“Sgt. Fitz put me in for the bronze star.”
Not long after:
“Fitz said, “I want you and (Manford) Amburn,” out of West Virginia, “to go with me, and we’ll be forward observers for the company.”
“We were surrounded for a couple days
“We had to dig a foxhole where it was stony, hard to dig, but we got down to a certain depth. German artillery was bombing us pretty good. At the nose of an artillery shell was a cone that had figures on it. They could turn that cone to certain depth. You were down in your foxhole, surrounded, and they would shoot that artillery piece up in the air and it would rain down shrapnel
“And me an Amburn were in this foxhole and he said, “Ewing, do you know how to pray?” and I said, the only prayer I know is the Lord’s Prayer and he said, “Well let’s say it.” And we did! And I’ll bet you it wasn’t 20 minutes to a half an hour before I got hit with shrapnel. I was lying face down, and shrapnel was raining down and it struck me in in my back.
“I said, Amburn something hit my back. He said, I can see that, but it’s not bleeding. The shell fragment was so hot it seared my flesh when it went in and didn’t bleed.”
Mr. Jimmy Ewing was awarded the Purple Heart for the wound he suffered in that foxhole.
“I went back to Sgt. Fitzgerald, by that time the 175th infantry had broken through to us. And I was taken back to a field hospital. They had stretchers like beanpoles with canvas between them lining up the wounded.
“I was paralyzed. I had fallen asleep. When I awakened this soldier was standing next to me. He said, “Fellow, what are you doing here?” I looked up, and it was a fellow I went school with. (Chesapeake Bay Captain) Harry Porter. He was in the medical unit. The surgeon who operated on me used Novocain for the pain. I felt him smooth something over (while he was operating on my back.) and I said, Doctor, did you get it? He said, “No I think it’s better off in there.” I said, I’m going to tell you a little story. I said you’re a captain and I’m only a corporal, but I disagree with you whole-heartedly. He said, “Well, what do you want me to do?” I said, ship me back to England and get this stuff out of my back, and so he did.
“I remember going back, it was such a beautiful day.
“They put me in the hospital and removed the shrapnel from my back. One day this major came in and he was walking around with all the doctors and said, “Soldier, how do you feel?” I said, I feel good. He said, “Send him back!” I still had stitches.
“I went back to a field hospital and they removed the stitches in a couple days, but before you went back on the front lines they’d put you on some kind of a physical testing and one (of those tests) was going to a dentist, and I’m sure his training was on a garbage truck or something. He was the roughest guy I ever saw in my life. He finished (working on) one tooth and was about to go to work on another one and I said, I’ll make a deal with you. He said, “What’s that?” I said, I’ll go fight the Germans again rather than take whatever it is you want to do next. He said, “Is that the way you feel about it?” I said, you bet your life I do and he signed the papers.
“I rejoined my company in September of ’44. We were in Brest, France.”
James Franklin (Jimmy) Ewing
“The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to any person who, after December 6, 1941, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States, distinguishes himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight.”- American War Library
“The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after April 5, 1917, with the U.S. military.” – American War Library
Visit Geert Van den Bogaert’s website at: http://normandyheroes.com/
TOMORROW: THE END OF THE WAR