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P.F.C. Lee Bumgardner

3rd Platoon, Company C, 702nd Tank Battalion, 319th Infantry Regiment


I got the following email recently from a justly proud family member: "Hi, my name is Robert E Bumgardner, I recently received my uncles medals from WWII from my aunt, his Sister.  I started looking for service records and found your web site.  Thank you for the great work you are doing.  My Uncle, PFC Lee R. Bumgardner is in your book.  He was wounded at Heiderscheid on December 24, 1944 staving of a German counter attack and was awarded the Silver Star for this action on February 8, 1945.  I have attached a picture of him receiving the Silver Star Metal.  My Grandson, Tyson is in the book The Devils Sandbox, By John R. Bruning and is on his second tour in Iraq.  He likes WWII history.  Thank you for preserving the history of his Great, Great Uncle for him.  My Uncle died in 1977."


P.F.C. Lee Bumgardner, Third Platoon, Company C, 702nd Tank Battalion Red Devils

Receives The Silver Star Medal For Heroism


From my book: "On Christmas Eve, the Wizda diary states that it was Sgt. Glofka's tank that bogged down in a ravine.  He continues with: "Sgt. Ferguson's tank and Lt. Schroeder's '42-Ton Christmas Gift' engaged in battle with three Tiger tanks.  Lt. Schroeder's tank took six direct hits, and then they decided to abandon the tank.


[Author's Note:  Taking on a German Tiger tank with a Sherman, even a new and improved 42 ton Sherman, is a lot like attacking a bull elephant with a ball-peen hammer.  An action to avoid at all costs! UPDATE: Recently, I received information from a member of C Company who was at the scene. Out of respect for him, I will not name him. He says, and I believe him, that Lt. Schroeder's action mentioned above was not true. He says that Lt. Schroeder had made a false claim, about the three Tiger tanks, in order to put himself in for a Silver Star Medal. The truth was, that it was not three Tiger tanks, but one Mk. V Panther tank, and that at the moment Schroeder abandoned his tank, it was still fully operational, and Schroeder acted out of cowardice, and abandoned his tank when he could have remained with it and continued the fight. The man who related the true story of this event was an eyewitness commanding another tank nearby. Since Schroeder was an officer, he had his version of the story entered into the record, and nobody was going to argue otherwise. There is no question that in other events during the war, Lt. Schroeder acted bravely, but in this one event, his fear got the best of him, and he lied about the events of that day.]


Sgt. Ferguson's tank was knocked out by enemy tank fire.  Both crews were forced to crawl fifteen hundred yards under direct 88mm fire, and made their way to our light tanks.  They returned on light tanks to Vichten.  Casualties for both crews are as follows: Cpl. William Tanner, missing in action, Pvt. Fouceca, severely wounded in action, Pvt. Forgie, severely wounded in action, T/5 Elmer Frey, lightly wounded in action, and Pvt. Welch, lightly injured in action.  Sgt. Ferguson and T/5 Coira were bruised up, but were not evacuated.


 The Third Platoon was still in Heiderscheid this morning.  In the early dawn, Sgt. Liddle and his driver, T/5 James Addis were re-fueling their tank.  The enemy in a sneak attack, opened fire.  Both men went into the turret and began to pour 30 cal. and 75 mm into the oncoming fanatics.  They held them off until friendly infantry were organized to control the attack.  Meanwhile, their tank was knocked out.  They did account for fifteen Germans dead, and about twenty-five wounded.  Casualties for Sgt. Liddle's crew were Pvt. Bumgardner, lightly wounded in action, Sgt. Liddle, lightly wounded in action and T/5 Addis, lightly wounded in action."


On February 4th, the Ed Wizda diary of "C" Company states that Lt. Prestridge was awarded the Silver Star for his outstanding accomplishments during the German counter-attack on Heiderscheid.  Two days later, the 2nd Lt. Prestridge became 1st Lt. Prestridge.  On February 8th, the diary states that Sgt. Kelley and Lt. Ehringer were awarded the Bronze Star.  Sgt. Liddle and P.F.C. Bumgardner were awarded the Silver Star for their actions in staving off a German counter-attack at Heiderscheid.  On February 11th, P.F.C. John Smolas was awarded the Silver Star for his deeds near Tadler.  He disregarded his own safety to pull Sgt. Lapkins under the tank away from the hail of bullets that rained down upon them.  On February 14th, T/5 James Addis was awarded the Silver Star for his accomplishments in the Heiderscheid counter-attack."


Lt. John Prestridge was the platoon leader of 3rd Platoon.  It was his tank, "Mad Dog" that I nominated for the Combat Tank Ace Award at the Fort Knox Armor School.  The sole survivor of Mad Dog, it's Driver, Bonifacio Yraguen received the award on behalf of the crew shortly before he died.  Lt. Prestridge was wounded badly in the arm in taking the German city of Kassel, was evacuated and never returned to the unit.



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