For Memorial Day, I knew that I wanted to write a post about my grandfather and his military service. Always described as a quiet, kind man, he died over a decade before I was born, so I was never able to personally learn about the man he was and his life story. However, what always stuck with me was that he fought in World War II and received a Purple Heart for being wounded in combat.
Taking some of my own advice, I asked my father if he had any information on my grandfather's military service. He did not have many details off the top of his head, but told me he would look through papers around the house and sent me a picture of a display dedicated to my grandfather that included his photograph, flag from his funeral, and war medals (which I only learned in recent years included The Bronze Star).
A display dedicated to my grandfather's military service.
I spent the early hours of Memorial Day shopping and standing in line to pick up food for my family, when I received a text from my father. I was shocked to see the images of my grandfather's honorable discharge papers that provided more information than I could have ever dreamed of. In line awaiting my order of bourbon chicken, I held back tears to learn that not only was my grandfather involved in WWII, but he was a part of history.
My grandfather, Private First Class Israel Rosenthal, was drafted into the army in Fall 1943. He trained at Camp Shelby in Mississippi as a marksman before joining the 12th Infantry Regiment, part of the 4th Infantry Division, which was integral to the Normandy Invasion and D-Day. Although these papers state that my grandfather arrived in August 1944, my family always said he participated in the Normandy Invasion and history of the 12 Infantry Regiment seems to support this belief. I need to find more information on his specific Company to determine the exact timeline.
PFC Israel Rosenthal, my grandfather.
However, the papers tell me that my grandfather was not only injured once, but three times! One date coincides with the first day of The Battle of the Bulge in which my grandfather received "shrapnel wounds to his right forehead" in Luxembourg. Less than a month before, an "enemy bullet grazed his scalp" in Germany. But on April 4, 1945, a Nazi sniper shot his left wrist (although it may have been his right), which resulted in his honorable discharge from the army.
My grandfather's honorable discharge papers. Brought me to tears.
I still have a lot of research to do to learn my grandfather's exact journey through Europe, but I am an awe that not only am I descended from such a brave hero, but that I have the privilege to also be named after him as well.