Lael C. Barber awarded the Silver Star
Lael Charles Barber was born on 10 Mar 1924, the son of George Barber and Eva Parent of Burlington, Vermont. Lael was the sixth child of seven. Lael’s family lived very close to my family at 115 Intervale Ave in the old North End of Burlington and died when I was age 4.
Enlisted in the US Army on 20 Nov 1942 at Rutland, VT. He was noted, at the time of his enlistment, as being employed as a Waiter and also as Single, with dependents. Service # 11085693
Trained at Fort Bragg, NC and then at Camp Maxey, TX
11 Aug 1943 On furlough in Burlington from Camp Maxey, TX as a PFC E2 in Field Artillery
On 29 Jan 1944 he arrived in England, then fought in France and Germany.
Private First Class E2, 330th Infantry, 83rd Infantry Division, U.S. Army Tank Destroyer Artillery.
Killed in action on 10 Dec 1944 in the Hurtgen Forest near Strass, Germany. Awarded the Purple Heart Medal.
The 330th Infantry Regiment After Action Report for the day that these two men were killed reads,
“11 December 1944, 1st Bn maintained position throughout the day under heavy arty and mortar fire. During early hours of morning L and K Cos in Strass were attacked by enemy armor and infantry. The TDs and Tks engaged armor and reported knocking out 3 enemy armored vehicles. L and K repulsed infantry throughout remainder of daylight.
Our forces in Strass were subjected to continual heavy arty and mortar fire and 3rd Bn had lost four Bn commanders killed, missing, and injured. At 1900, 3rd Bn received another attack of infantry and armor from SE but again repulsed the attack and maintained their position. All TDs had been knocked out by close of day and only 7 tanks of Co C, 774th Tk Bn remained in operating order.
One 10-man patrol with food, ammo and medical supplies got through to Strass after dark. 60 casualties were reported to be in Strass, no evacuation was possible. Only communication by TD radio. At 0730, Co A, 759th Tk Bn was relieved from attachment and elements of CCB, 5th Armd Div passed through 1st Bn. 1st Bn remained on present positions.”
Interred initially at the Henri-Chapelle cemetery in Belgium.
On 11 Jul 1950 he was repatriated at the Long Island, NY National Cemetery.
He is interred with: Nowak, Theodore J F. The reason he is named on a group headstone is because when soldier's were killed in close proximity to each other they were unable, at that time, to identify them separately and interred their remains together in one grave.
He was awarded the Silver Star posthumously by Captain James S. Austin, the commanding Officer of Fort Ethan Allen, Colchester, VT. His citation reads: He distinguished himself by gallantry in action on 10 Dec 1944. Although hopelessly outnumbered, three tank destroyer crews, of which he was a member remained at their post and returned enemy fire until all the destroyers where knocked out. Six members of the crews were killed and five were injured. (Burlington Free Press on 7 Aug 1945)
This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 400,000+ of the US WWII fallen here on Fold3. Can you help write these stories? Related to this, there will be a smart phone app that will allow people to visit any war memorial or cemetery, scan the fallen's name and read his/her story.