Frank M.

The story starts in Oktober 2018 when my brother, father and myself went on a historical trip to France. We went to the Alsace area in which the German Operation Nordwind had taken place in 1945. Part of this trip was visiting the former battlefields in the area.

We did some metal-detecting and found various items. One of the best items was found by my brother. Near a bunch of foxholes he found a single US-army Dog-tag. As the Dog-tag was made from stainless steel, it was in perfect condition.
As if it was lost only yesterday! The name and army-serial number were clearly visable: Frank M.

After returning home i contacted an American researcher that was able to dig up some documents about Frank from the US archives. Unfortunately not every information was avaible, but i was able to construct a complete image of this soldier based on this information and what was to be found on the internet.

Frank M. was born on 8 August 1925 in Tovey, Illinois, United-States of America.
In Oktober 1943, pretty much exactly 75 years before finding his dog-tag, Frank enlisted in the US-Army. Frank was trained as Light mortar crewman. After ending his training in the US, Frank was send to a combat unit overseas in april 1944, arriving in Mai 1944. He was assigned to I-Company, 3rd Bataillon of the 179th Infantry-Regiment. This Regiment was part of the 45th Infantry-Division which was also known as the "Oklahoma Thunderbirds".

With this Division Frank participated in the Rome-Arno battles in Italy in the first half of 1944. hereafter Frank participated in the invasion of Southern-France and subsequent battles in France. In Oktober 1944 Frank was hospitalized for 12 days for being sick. Frank then fought in the Alsace area. It was at this place in early 1945 that the German's launched Operation Nordwind. Although lesser known then the Ardennes-Offensive, very heavy battles took place.

Map of the planned German Operation Nordwind

The US forces got overrun at first, but the Germans couldn't make good use of their gains due to the lack of fuel, supplies and tired troops. The US forces went into the defences and quickly tried to regain the lost ground. Frank's Division participated in beating back the initial assault and later fighting back the German troops. It was during these battles, not far from the famous Kaesberg, that Frank somehow lost one of his dog-tags.

After Operation Nordwind had ended in a victory for the US-Army, Frank's Division was pulled from the front for a short rest and refit. Herafter Frank's Division participated in the final battles in Germany. The Division smashed through the Siegfried Line, taking Homburg and crossing the Rhine in late March 1945. Aschaffenburg was captured in early April and Nuremberg on the 20th. In late April the Division participated in liberating prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp. In the first days of Mai 1945 the Division captured the city of Munich and stayed here as occupation force untill the surrender of Germany. The Division was appointed to be shifted to the front with Japan, but these plans got canceled when Japan surrendered in late 1945.

Frank survived the war. He went home a war hero as Private first class with the following decorations: Rifle Marksmanship Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge, European-African-middle-eastern campaign medal with 4 bronze battle stars and 1 bronze arrowhead, 3 Overseas Service bars, Good Conduct Medal and the WWII Victory Medal. In 1948 Frank got married, he would live his life in Springfield since 1949 while running his own building business. Frank died on 13 January 2008 at the age of 82.