A newly-erected permanent stone marker along a small road in the French countryside helps preserve the memory of a celebrated Medal of Honor recipient. It stands in near the spot where that American soldier made his famous stand, thanks in part to an East Tennessee soldier who served in the same infantry unit.
"Thank you, Thank you," said Mr. Clinton Riddle back in June of this year as he acknowledged applause from a crowd during an impromptu ceremony celebrating the installment of a monument to Medal of Honor recipient Charles DeGlopper. Mr. DeGlopper is among a select group of military veterans to receive America's rarest and highest award for heroism under fire.
Seventy years ago, Mr. Riddle served in the 325th Glider Infantry unit along with Army Private First Class DeGlopper. The two were among the 2,000 glider troops to crash land behind enemy lines during the D-Day invasion.
After touchdown, and a couple days into their advance, Mr. Riddle was dodging enemy fire in a few fields over from DeGlopper when the New York native made a courageous stand amid withering gunfire to keep German forces from ambushing the rest of his unit.
That one-man-stand earned the 22-year-old from Grand Island the Medal of Honor. Part of his official citation reads:
He was wounded, but he continued firing. Struck again, he started to fall; and yet his grim determination and valiant fighting spirit could not be broken. Kneeling in the roadway, weakened by his grievous wounds, he leveled his heavy weapon against the enemy and fired burst after burst until killed outright. He was successful in drawing the enemy action away from his fellow soldiers, who continued the fight from a more advantageous position and established the first bridgehead over the Merderet. In the area where he made his intrepid stand his comrades later found the ground strewn with dead Germans and many machineguns and automatic weapons which he had knocked out of action. Pfc. DeGlopper's gallant sacrifice and unflinching heroism while facing unsurmountable odds were in great measure responsible for a highly important tactical victory in the Normandy Campaign.
Mr. Riddle helped locals identify the area where DeGlopper stood unflinching against an overwhelming enemy. The young man lost his life during that fierce firefight, June 9th, 1944th and became the only member of the heralded 82nd Airborne division to receive America's highest award for valor in combat during the Normandy campaign.