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Acts of bravery never recognized? Share them here!


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#1 ssggates

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Posted 27 November 2013 - 05:15 PM

I’ve seen threads in the past about dubious medals and recipients who may not have deserved what they were awarded (Gen. MacArthur, et al).  But there are thousands of cases in all services of men who performed acts of unbelievable heroism and sacrifice and were never officially recognized for them, or were awarded something less than they deserved.  In some cases, there were not enough witnesses or witnesses were KIA themselves before a recommendation could be pushed up.  In some units, such as the 83rd Division, no emphasis was placed on awards at all and there were comparatively few awards for valor given especially considering the amount of fighting they experienced.  In other cases politics may have gotten in the way.  Sometimes their stories are only remembered and told by a close buddy or found buried in dust covered After Action Reports that rarely see the light of day.  If you know of any who fit this description please share it here!

 

I’ll get it started with PFC Henry W. Saaga, Co G, 330th Infantry, 83rd Division.  He’s not in NARA and there is not much information available for him.  He was a native of Samoa and enlisted from Hawaii in 1942.  Shortly after the 83rd landed on Omaha beach in late June 1944 they started pushing inland and began the process of replacing the 101st Airborne Division in the Carentan sector, which was heavily defended by elite German SS, panzer, and paratroops.  Before the 83rd went on the offensive they began sending out reconnaissance patrols. The result of one of these is recorded on the Company Morning Report of 1 July 1944 by the Company Commander, Captain William P. Buhrman.  A copy is attached to this post.  It reads:

 

 “…Co sent out first daylight patrol at 1230 led by Capt Buhrman the Co Commander.  The members of this patrol were all volunteers and were Pvt Saaga, who displayed extraordinary courage and bravery without respect for his own life when he vaulted an enemy occupied hedge row to attack, alone, an enemy MG position whose fire was pinning the patrol down.  As a result of his act, the patrol was able to move out and return to their own lines.  When last heard of Pvt Saaga was throwing hand grenades and firing his rifle.  At this time Pvt Saaga’s whereabouts remain unknown.”

 

In my opinion this action would have merited at least a Silver Star.  Maybe even a DSC considering that he gave his life allowing his comrades to escape.  But only 3 days later Capt Buhrman was himself KIA attempting to climb over a hedgerow when the 83rd launched their attack (my Uncle was by his side when it happened). The others may very well have suffered a similar fate. Henry Saaga’s extraordinary act was lost to history, never to be officially recognized accept for a paragraph in a morning report.  One has to wonder if his family ever knew how he died.  His body was never recovered and after the one year waiting period the Army declared him KIA.  His name is included on the Tablet of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville-sur-Mer.

 

I would like to see some more, so if you know of a similar story please post it!

 

Saaga MR.JPG

 

 



#2 SergeantMajorGray

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Posted 27 November 2013 - 06:21 PM

That's sad he most definitely deserved a Silver Star at the very least. 



#3 carbinephalen

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Posted 27 November 2013 - 07:08 PM

This is a much needed topic SSGGates. It's about time these veterans be recognized for their heroic deeds. What a brave 83rd-er that was lost to the bloody hedgerows of France along with so many others.

I truly hope that many others contribute to this thread! We all know a person who went through the horrors of war to come out with their life as the only decoration/award.

#4 Ultima Ratio Regum

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Posted 28 November 2013 - 04:27 PM

This is indeed a timely topic.  I think that missed recognition happens more often then we think.  See, for example, the controversy on Capt william Swenson's "lost" MOH recommendation.



#5 ssggates

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 05:31 AM

This is indeed a timely topic.  I think that missed recognition happens more often then we think.  See, for example, the controversy on Capt william Swenson's "lost" MOH recommendation.

I followed that story closely, I was glad to see him finally get the medal.  That's a good example of politics getting in the way.



#6 Gregory

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 05:49 AM

But there are thousands of cases in all services of men who performed acts of unbelievable heroism and sacrifice and were never

officially recognized for them, or were awarded something less than they deserved.

 

Of course -- the USAAF glider pilots. The AAF GPs had the worst possible conditions to fly of all WWII era GPs whatever country they came from, democratic or totalitarian ones. Some day I will explain it in a very detailed form in my book about them. For me the AAF GPs were/are the heroes over the heroes.



#7 Garandomatic

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 07:04 AM

Have you ever tried tracking down Saaga's family? That'd be about as fitting of an end to his story as could happen at this point.



#8 ssggates

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 11:20 AM

 

Of course -- the USAAF glider pilots. The AAF GPs had the worst possible conditions to fly of all WWII era GPs whatever country they came from, democratic or totalitarian ones. Some day I will explain it in a very detailed form in my book about them. For me the AAF GPs were/are the heroes over the heroes.

No arguing with that!  It's hard to think of a more difficult job and mission than what they had.

 

Garand - I did think about it, and I'm still working on it.  I would love to add that to this thread some day.



#9 carbinephalen

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 11:21 AM

Was reading through some 30th Division material and came across this one.

 

Palco was awarded the DSC for actions 10 days later after this incredible feat. Not sure if it was doing that that earned him the DSC. The dates are close but don't quite line up plus it seems that these actions don't quite fit into the "Armed Combat with an enemy" criteria for the DSC.

 

Either way! What a MEDIC!! :o :o :o

 

Please see the newspaper clipping below!

 

T4 Frank.jpg

 

 

 

 



#10 carbinephalen

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 11:29 AM

A testament to the quote, "the horrors of war"

 

There's bad....and then there's amputating legs with scissors bad. :mellow:



#11 Timberwolf

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 11:41 AM

What an amazing medic! That would be mentally exhausting to both the medic and the "patient" in this case. Looking at the end of this article I imagine he was probably awarded a CIB as a mg gunner.



#12 carbinephalen

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 09:46 PM

A CIB/CMB recipient?!

 

Anybody have a picture of one of those!! :D



#13 Mchow808

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Posted 16 December 2014 - 01:54 PM

I’ve seen threads in the past about dubious medals and recipients who may not have deserved what they were awarded (Gen. MacArthur, et al).  But there are thousands of cases in all services of men who performed acts of unbelievable heroism and sacrifice and were never officially recognized for them, or were awarded something less than they deserved.  In some cases, there were not enough witnesses or witnesses were KIA themselves before a recommendation could be pushed up.  In some units, such as the 83rd Division, no emphasis was placed on awards at all and there were comparatively few awards for valor given especially considering the amount of fighting they experienced.  In other cases politics may have gotten in the way.  Sometimes their stories are only remembered and told by a close buddy or found buried in dust covered After Action Reports that rarely see the light of day.  If you know of any who fit this description please share it here!

 

I’ll get it started with PFC Henry W. Saaga, Co G, 330th Infantry, 83rd Division.  He’s not in NARA and there is not much information available for him.  He was a native of Samoa and enlisted from Hawaii in 1942.  Shortly after the 83rd landed on Omaha beach in late June 1944 they started pushing inland and began the process of replacing the 101st Airborne Division in the Carentan sector, which was heavily defended by elite German SS, panzer, and paratroops.  Before the 83rd went on the offensive they began sending out reconnaissance patrols. The result of one of these is recorded on the Company Morning Report of 1 July 1944 by the Company Commander, Captain William P. Buhrman.  A copy is attached to this post.  It reads:

 

 “…Co sent out first daylight patrol at 1230 led by Capt Buhrman the Co Commander.  The members of this patrol were all volunteers and were Pvt Saaga, who displayed extraordinary courage and bravery without respect for his own life when he vaulted an enemy occupied hedge row to attack, alone, an enemy MG position whose fire was pinning the patrol down.  As a result of his act, the patrol was able to move out and return to their own lines.  When last heard of Pvt Saaga was throwing hand grenades and firing his rifle.  At this time Pvt Saaga’s whereabouts remain unknown.”

 

In my opinion this action would have merited at least a Silver Star.  Maybe even a DSC considering that he gave his life allowing his comrades to escape.  But only 3 days later Capt Buhrman was himself KIA attempting to climb over a hedgerow when the 83rd launched their attack (my Uncle was by his side when it happened). The others may very well have suffered a similar fate. Henry Saaga’s extraordinary act was lost to history, never to be officially recognized accept for a paragraph in a morning report.  One has to wonder if his family ever knew how he died.  His body was never recovered and after the one year waiting period the Army declared him KIA.  His name is included on the Tablet of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville-sur-Mer.

 

I would like to see some more, so if you know of a similar story please post it!

 

attachicon.gifSaaga MR.JPG

 

 

Hello, 

I am a high school teacher in Honolulu Hawaii and was recently accepted into the Understanding Sacrifice program.  As part of the program, each teacher has to research the life of a fallen solider from his or her home state who is buried at an ABMC cemetery abroad.  I have chosen Henry Saaga but am having a difficult time finding any information on him.  (More information on the program here:  http://www.nhd.org/ABMC.htm)  I have tracked down his family tree with the hopes of contacting some family members here in Hawaii, but the ones listed on the tree are all deceased.  

 

Could you please let me know where you found the Morning Report with the information you posted here?  I would also like any information you might be willing to share on the actions of the 83rd, as you seem to know a lot!  I am an English teacher by trade, so the military history is new and challenging for me. Any information you might be willing to share will really help me in my research.  Thank you so much!  



#14 ssggates

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Posted 16 December 2014 - 05:42 PM

Mchow808 I'll help in any way I can. I'll be in touch soon.


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