Edwin Wolf still gets emotional when he talks about the scene on Omaha Beach on D-day.
"Boy, it was rough," said the 92-year-old resident of Baltimore. "You never saw so many dead people in your life."
Wolf was wounded that day as he supervised the landing of equipment on the beach. On Saturday, he received the Bronze Star with V for his service that day. The award was delayed more than 55 years because paperwork submitted at the time to award him the Silver Star was lost.
Wolf, serving with the 280th Quartermaster Battalion, landed at Omaha about 7 a.m., and for the next five hours walked up and down the beach, exposed to fire, trying to make order of the horrific and deadly chaos. "His rapid assessment and solution of numerous problems . . . greatly enhanced the Allied effectiveness against a determined and aggressive enemy," according to the citation.
About noon, he was hit by fire. "I had half my face blown off," he said.
A medic treated his wound with sulphur and bandages. After lying on the beach for five hours, Wolf was evacuated to a hospital in England. "I was lucky," he said.
Wolf returned to France about a month later, took part in the Allied breakout from Normandy and ended up in Belgium shortly after the Battle of the Bulge. "It was cold," he said. "I haven't gotten over it yet." Wolf suffered frostbite and was hospitalized again.
Wolf stayed in the Army for 20 years and continued service in the Army Reserve while he established a law practice in Baltimore. Though he no longer practices law, Wolf still reports to the office to help out younger lawyers. Wolf is the oldest and longest-serving member of the Fort Meade Retiree Council.
Wolf was never too concerned about the missing medal. "I never even opened my mouth," he said. "After 55 years, I thought the hell with it."
But over the summer, a retired Army officer and friend of Wolf's saw paperwork in Wolf's office indicating he was entitled to the medal. The friend, joined by others, wrote letters to Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as to other officials who agreed to correct the oversight.
Wolf was presented with the medal and accompanying certificate at Saturday's ceremony by Col. Michael Stewart, the Fort Meade garrison commander.
The 55th anniversary of the biggest U.S. land battle of World War II--the Battle of the Bulge--is being observed this week.
The Arlington-based group Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge is sponsoring several events, including speakers and tours of exhibits and displays at Fort Meade, where a Battle of the Bulge historical room has been established. The group expects about 130 veterans and family members to attend the commemoration.
Today, veterans will participate in a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. The 11 a.m. ceremony is open to the public.
The battle, which involved more than a million men, began Dec. 16, 1944, when three powerful German armies plunged into the Ardennes region of eastern Belgium and northern Luxembourg.
By the time the fighting ended six weeks later, the United States had suffered 81,000 casualties during the battle, including 19,000 killed.
D.C. Guard's Family Day
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams helped fete about 2,500 members of the D.C. National Guard along with family members Sunday during a gathering at the D.C. Armory in Northeast Washington.
The annual event, known as D.C. Army National Guard's Family Recognition Day, featured a prayer breakfast, a proclamation from the mayor, awards and musical selections from the D.C. Guard 257th Army Band and the Hawkins Family Singers. There was also a Guard-sponsored education and job fair.
"It's to thank everybody for their help and good will," said Lt. Col. Phyllis Phipps-Barnes, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Guard.
The event also included a Christmas party for children featuring games and a visit from Santa. "It's evolved into a family thing," said Phipps-Barnes. "A guardsman can't really do the job without the support of the family."
Williams joined Maj. Gen. Warren Freeman, the commander of the D.C. National Guard, in presenting family awards, and the mayor also presented a proclamation honoring the Guard's work for the city.
Williams had special reason this year to be thankful to the D.C. Guard, as he mentioned during his remarks. In July, the mayor was taken for a birthday spin in a D.C. Air National Guard F-16 fighter aircraft.
Fife, Drums and Roses
The U.S. Army's Fife and Drum Corps will be strutting its Colonial stuff in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year's Day, marching in the Tournament of Roses parade.
It marks the first time--either in the new or any other millennium--that any of the premier Army marching elements has participated in the famed parade, an Army spokesman said.
A contingent of 39 marchers from the Fort Myer-based unit will fly to California for the event, carrying tricorn hats, white wigs, waistcoats, wooden fifes and handmade drums.
"They're excited," said Lt. Col. Rich Breen, spokesman for the Military District of Washington. "For these guys to march in the No. 1 parade in the nation, with 300 million people watching, it's a big deal."
The element is slated to march third in line in the parade.
Sending the corps will cost about $20,000, said Breen, who said the cost was justified by the value of the exposure as a recruiting tool for the Army. "From our standpoint, it's a phenomenal bang for the buck," he said.
Besides, the Army sees the year 2000, in addition to the start of a new millennium, as marking its 225th birthday.
Military Matters appears every other week. Steve Vogel can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
CAPTION: Lt. Col. Karen Saunders entertains children with a drawing during the D.C. Army National Guard's family appreciation day at the D.C. Armory.