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November 11, 2012

Combat engineer's records yield posthumous Bronze Star

Combat engineer's records yield posthumous Bronze Star

(Continued)

Paul made pages and pages of entries, beginning May 23, 1943, in his journal. He detailed everything from his company’s arrival in Morocco to the landing in Italy, where the men were given the considerable task of purifying and supplying water for members of the entire Army there.

“They did a lot,” Leo said. “They were mainly in charge of drilling water wells, building bridges and tending to airfields.” 

One his favorite journal entries describes an extremely close call with live artillery.

“Basically, a bomb landed on a mattress in a tent and because of that it just didn’t go off,” Leo recalled. “They had to get the bomb squad at the time to get in there and get rid of it.”

AIR RAIDS, CONFUSION

Another entry, dated May 30, reveals a pensive Paul wondering what might be in store for his company.

“Rumors are still flying around,” he wrote. “They are saying (we are) destined to become a combat outfit and headed by George Patton. Why not?”

In his letter, Anderson praised Paul for his actions when landing on the beaches of Salerno. The men in Paul’s company were transferred from boats to landing craft, and he was in charge of taking the first wave to shore safely.

“Sgt. Rivet was placed in charge of the first group to land and was given the only information available, to take the group to a personnel assembly area, location unknown, and connect with further detachments as they landed and direct them to the assembly area,” he wrote. 

“Under nearly constant air raids and considerable confusion, Sgt. Rivet displayed outstanding judgment and ambition on this task, and by late afternoon of the same day, all personnel had been assembled and accounted for without a single casualty.”

KNELT IN PRAYER

A photo Paul had taken the day before the landing shows the men kneeling in prayer during a church service at camp.

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