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PFC Delmer Koonter- I Company, 142 Regiment, 36 Infantry Division


36thIDAlex

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My grandfather always had a small picture frame with my great grandfather's photograph, purple heart, GCM, and a couple ribbons in it. This last summer I decided to do some heavy research into his story during the war as he never liked to talk about it with my grandfather. I learned quite a lot and will post the morning reports for the day he was wounded. While I was researching my grandpa scavenged around his house to find some papers from his funeral, while searching he ended up finding his intact Ike jacket with the original patches and only a few small holes buried in a box in his garage as well as a number of smaller things his father brought home. I finally got this account to work and thought it would be nice to make a little post about it and include the pictures of his stuff and one of the many stories I discovered. Enjoy!

 

The only thing he would ever tell my grandfather about the war was the story of how he earned the PH (minus a few details I have added in after research).

During early December of 1944 the 36th Division had just finished a long campaign throughout the Vosges hills in southern France and came upon a large German supply hub located in the town of Selestat. My grandfather's company was eventually sent to enter the southern part of the town. I company, along with the regiment's armor, soon found itself pinned as a German 88 and a number of enemy troops opened fire from a heavily fortified roadblock at the entrance to the town. The 88 knocked out the leading M4 instantly and soon took out another advancing M10 Wolverine. The armor mostly destroyed, I company stormed the position and knocked out the German gun crew and forced the Germans to retreat. My grandfather and his platoon were sent forward into the town; after some extremely dangerous house to house fighting, the platoon and others with it became pinned down by a German MG in a nearby house. The platoon CO kept calling for someone to get a message back to the rest of the troops behind them, as their radioman had gone down. My grandfather decided he should try. As he dashed from cover to cover in his retreat, the MG opened fire and hit him, one bullet going through both legs horizontally. Not much is known afterwards. I assume it took him a couple of months to recover as he did eventually return to duty. I assume it was during his time in the hospital or possible other actions where he helped medics that someone gave him the Combat Medic Patch despite him being an infantryman and it not being officially awarded according to his discharge papers.

 

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Some of the bracelets he brought home; "Erma" was the name of his wife and he had that bracelet made in Germany for her.

 

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This is a copy of the citation for his presidential unit citation

 

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A very nice tribute to your great grandfather, something to be proud of. Good luck on your research, God Bless your G-Grandfather, and your Dad for holding on to his memories! Thanks for a great post & welcome to the forum.

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BILL THE PATCH

That's awesome that you found his Ike jacket, and all the stuff. Cherish it. It's nice e to see grandchildren Interested in there family history. Good job on the display.

 

Sent from my XT1031 using Tapatalk

 

 

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Do your best to instill the pride you rightfully have in your children/family so they keep this great group together when the time comes.

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  • 2 months later...

I was helping my grandparents clean out their basement recently and I found a couple of more items from my great grandpa's service so I felt like updating the thread for any future readers.

 

First is a painting found of him with a stamp on the back which matches the photograph of him. Signed "Gneiting"

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Second is a photo of him and my grandfather home in Michigan when he returned from the war

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Third is a photo of him and some friends on their first donkey ride. He is on the white donkey. The back of the photo has this written "March 12th, 1945-- My first donkey ride. Photo of Nicholas on middle donkey. Other two buddies off mine." This was likely taken near Hochholden during a three day division wide rest for the unit before a major push to the Moder

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Next up are his dog tags

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Some German (and one French) coins he brought home. There are a couple more but this is the only photo I took

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A couple of German marks and more interestingly, some Allied Military Currency. The square ones are foreign currency printed by the allies for use by troops in the field if needed.

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His Purple Heart and Good Conduct Medal lapel pins

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A newspaper article from his hometown in Michigan about his promotion to PFC and a little unit history

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  • 1 month later...
firefighter

Amazing grouping and a beautiful tribute.I really like th Combat Medic Badge, I wonder if one of the medics gave it to him when he was injured?

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carbinephalen

That is a FANTASTIC grouping! Glad it will be all kept together now! I hope to see more 36th item posts from you! Specialize in it and it makes the finds that much more special!

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Thanks everyone for all of the positive feedback. It's great to see others appreciate his service. I decided to leave the link to my google photo page of this grouping. As I find more information and items from his service I update this page, one can also see some of the objects close up.

 

https://goo.gl/photos/DaAscmXKQMLfm1teA

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  • 5 months later...

Updating this post- Recent forays into family storage found his wife's scrapbook from 1941-49. Inside are some unique examples of V-mail, including a very nice Christmas one from the 36th and a birthday card shipped from Germany. Stevie is the name of his son, my grandfather, and Erma is his wife. The address also confirms my research and the details of his actions as it shows he was not simply transferred to i company to be shipped home.

 

 

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