Having been touched deeply by a recent visit to the D Day and WW II Museum in New Orleans, I learned on Thursday of the passing of the last Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from the D-Day invasion on Omaha Beach in France in June 1944 and I could not let that fact go unnoticed. It was a day that changed the World and in many ways, saved it as well. Heroes like Walter Ehlers pass quietly to their eternal reward without fanfare or bravado, but each one of these giants from The Greatest Generation deserves proper recognition for their service to freedom and for each one of us who enjoy the benefits of their sacrifice.
Staff Sgt. Walter Ehlers, a Medal of Honor recipient for his heroic actions during World War II, died Thursday at the age of 92 in California. Ehlers, who joined the armed forces in 1940, was the last living Medal of Honor recipient who stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day.
He earned his Medal of Honor "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty" on June 9 and 10, 1944, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
During battle near Goville, France, Ehlers went ahead of his men to defend his squad against the enemy. He blocked his men from gunfire and even after he was wounded in the back, carried a rifleman to safety and then returned to the battleground to retrieve his rifle. Ehlers refused to leave his squad after his wound was treated. “The Germans didn't leave much of me untouched," Ehlers said an interview with WWII Magazine in 2012. Ehlers also earned three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star during his service with the 3rd Infantry Division and the 1st Infantry Division.
After the war, Ehlers became an advocate for military veteran benefits and proudly worked as a security guard for Disneyland when it opened in California.
Thank you Sgt. Ehlers. We stand and salute you. Well done, Walter. You are a great American, a good soldier and an even better man.
Report from NBC News