"My Hero - My Dad" by Dennis E. Champlin
I would like to say a word about a hero, my dad, Army Sergeant Sylvanus “Big” Champlin.
He was 35-years old in 1943 when he volunteered for the Army; he was a farmer, married, with one young son; he was exempt, but he believed joining was the right thing to do for his family, and for his country.
He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a “Non-Commissioned Officer”, or, more commonly, “NCO”; at first a Corporal, because of his maturity, he soon became a Drill Sergeant.
He was 37-years old in 1944 when he was ordered to New York City with the Squad he had just trained; on June 6, the Allies invaded Europe, in what later became known as simply “D-Day”. Sergeant Champlin and his men left on that same day for England.
They arrived in Liverpool on June 13; they crossed the English Channel on June 14, “Flag Day”, and stepped into World War II on Utah Beach, Normandy, France. His unit was attached to the 4th (IV or “Ivy”) division (12th Infantry, Company “G”).
His squad went ashore under heavy sniper fire, but they all made it safely inland, ready to confront the evil Nazi war regime. They fought through the hedgerow country, until General Omar Bradley designed a “break-out”, code named “Operation Cobra”.
They battled through and captured St. Lo, France, on July 31st; 95% of the city lay in ruins; in fact, only one Church remained standing. That victory opened the pathway directly to the Allied liberation of Paris and onward to Berlin.
But, dad didn’t get to see that, because on August 1st, in the battle to capture Villedieu Les Poeles, Sergeant Champlin was gravely wounded by a Nazi tank; his Squad Corporal and the Red Cross Medics took him to the nearest Field Hospital; in spite of his own pain, the old Sergeant ordered his Corporal to “...take care of my boys...”.
Army Doctor, Captain Brown, saved his life and saved his leg, but for dad, the war was over. He was air evacuated back to a Hospital in England, and finally sent home to the U.S.A.
He earned the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Yes, he is my hero!
Copyright © 1980 - 2019 Dennis Eugene Champlin
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