Skip Navigation LinksHome > Browse ServiceHeroes
Login  

"History is one of the most important topics that can be studied
because as it repeats, history will help foretell the future." Milo
  They are U.S. Marine Raiders gathered in front of a Jap dugout on Cape Totkina on Bougainville  
My War History Navigation My War History ProfileWar ChatBrowse Service HeroesService Hero PhotosService Hero VideosResearch Service HeroesContact MyWarHistory

Help

Browse Service Heroes

Click here to sign up so you can start posting your service heroes before their stories are lost

Ralph Sanford Army

Print My Service Hero
View MyWarBuff Page
Add WarBuff Friend
Share with Friends
Ralph Burton Sanford - 5964 Views
honored by Grandson-in-law


Recommend Ralph's Story to Digg it | del.icio.us | Reddit

Assigned: 5th Infantry 'Red Devil' Division, 2nd Infantry Regiment
Highest Rank: Sergeant
Entered Service: 4/8/1941
Exited Service: 9/14/1945
Foreign Service Length: 3 Years, 5 Months and 3 Days
Continental Service Length: 1 Year and 4 Days
Location of Service: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe
Gender: male
Basic Training: Fort Custer, Michigan
Military Position: Machine Gunner (.30 Cal.)
Place of Separation: Fort Sheridan, Illinois
From City: Morse
From State: Wisconsin
Current City: Port Angeles
Current State: Washington
Date of Birth: 12/1921
Date Deceased: 02/1989
My War Stories
  
  8/1940 In August 1940, the 5th Division assembled at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin for field problems and firing of weapons. Following was another return to unit stations in preparation for final assembly at the division's new permanent station - - - - -Fort Custer Michigan.
  4/8/1941 The first troops arrived in the middle of September 1940. By April, 1941, the arrival of the first Selective Service Selectees, 5,000 in number, arrived to bring the Division up to strength. Two maneuvers were held, Tennessee and Louisiana, during the spring and summer of 1941. Then-Private Sanford was inducted in the United States Army on 8 April 1941.
  4/7/1942 In August 1941, a Regimental Team, composed of the 10th Infantry Regiment and 46th FA Bn. with supporting units, was shipped out to Iceland arriving 16 September. The remainder of the 5th Division, shipped out piecemeal, the last units arriving 16 May, 1942.
  4/17/1942 Private Sanford's troop ship arrived in Iceland. While in Iceland, the 5th Division performed arduous and monotonous duties of manning observation posts, unloading boats, building roads and buildings and maintaining training schedules.
  8/1943 In August 1943 the Division moved from Iceland to Tidworth Barracks, England then in October, 1943, to Northern Ireland for advanced training for the invasion of France.
  6/9/1944 The 5th Division landed in France at Utah Sugar Red Beach (3 days after the D-Day invasion), in the St. Mere Eglise area, 9 June 1944.
  7/1944 PVT Sanford's unit, the 2nd Infantry Regiment, became a part of General George Patton's Third United States Army, leading the way in the breakout from the beaches of Normandy in Operation Cobra, capturing Rheims and then seized Metz after a major battle at Fort Driant.
  8/29/1944 The 2nd Infantry Regiment crossed the Marne River and captured Reims on August 29th.
  11/21/1944 The 5th Division was now at Metz, the gateway to the Siegfried Line. The city was fortified by twenty-two forts assembled during the wars between France and Germany in 1870 and 1914. The bloodshed of the American troops to take the city of Metz was to continue through November and early December. The attack began on November 9th against a determined enemy. Some of the forts surrendered and others by-passed and the converging regiments of the Division closed in on the city forcing it to surrender on November 21, 1944.
  12/8/1944 Fort Driant, the last of the forts to surrender, fell to the 2nd Infantry Regiment on December 8, 1944. With Fort Driant's surrender, the Moselle Operation came to an end and the 5th Division, although having suffered heavy losses, had opened the road to the Saar River, the Siegfried Line and Germany.
  12/16/1944 At 0530 hours on the morning of December 16, 1944, the great concentration of German troops began their famous counteroffensive in the Ardennes Forest of Luxembourg.
  12/20/1944 The 5th Division received orders to withdraw from their positions at Saarlautern and make the one hundred mile move to the northwest on December 20. Making the motor move in the cold and snow of winter, the division arrived in the Luxembourg City area within a 24 hour period and relieved the hard hit 4th Division. The Division was given the order to strike the south flank of the new "Bulge" and hurl the Germans back across the Sauer River in the Echternach area. The divisions attack protected Luxembourg City and sent two German divisions into confusion. They recaptured a great quantity of American equipment, captured 830 prisoners and wiped out the enemy threat to the southern flank of the salient.
  12/24/1944 On 24 December 1944, near Scheidgen, Luxembourg. Then-PFC Sanford and a fellow soldier, occupied a highly exposed position while supporting their Company against an enemy counterattack and helped capture a stongly held enemy wooded area. For distinctive bravery, they were both awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
  1/1945 In January 1945 the 2nd Infantry Regiment forced a crossing of the Sauer River and attacked into the Siegfried Line. The Regiment crossed the Rhine River near Oppenheim and secured the crossing for other Third Army units.
  3/1945 Acting as the spearhead of the XII Corps, the 5th moved across the Sauer River, breach the Siegfried Line, drive north to Bitburg and attack eastward to the Rhine River. This was the course the Division followed, making assault crossings of the Sauer, Kyll and the Moselle Rivers and reaching the Rhine River near Oppenheim.
  3/27/1945 The next objective was Frankfurt Am Main. On March 27, 1945, the 5th Division entered the city over a bridge they had found still standing although it was under intensive artillery fire. Advancing between artillery barrages on the bridge, the troops entered the city against heavy tank and sniper fire and cleared the city of enemy troops within four days. The division had a short break in the liberated city of Frankfurt and enjoyed the relaxing inactivity.
  4/7/1945 The short break came to an end on April 7, 1945, when the 5th was ordered to move a hundred miles northward to join the III Corps of the First Army to assist in reducing what became known as "The Ruhr Pocket", three trapped German divisions who were working their way back to Germany for the defense of the Homeland. The 5th attacked the center of the "pocket" until all resistance ceased.
  4/30/1945 The next move for the Red Diamonds was to be a long one - - three hundred miles to the town of Regen, near a point where Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia joined borders, arriving on April 30, the division was ordered to attack eastward in southern Czechoslovakia and northern Austria to clear the area of German troops that had retreated to that area. The 2nd Infantry Regiment then spearheaded the attack into Czechoslovakia. Progress was rapid against light resistance.
  5/7/1945 The 2nd RCT, in the area of Volary, Czechoslovakia on the morning of May 7, 1945, was loaded and on the road ready to continue the attack, when the word came to cease all forward movement at 0831 hours. In 276 days of combat the Regiment captured 275 cities and towns, crossed 20 rivers and captured 22,103 of the enemy.
  5/15/1945 At the ending of hostilities, the 5th Division occupied positions in Bavaria from May 15 to June 13, 1945 when it was relieved by the 83d Infantry Division.
  6/13/1945 At the close of the 5th's occupation duty, an exchange of 4000 of it's veterans with a like number of the 103d Division was made. The veterans, now with the 103d Division were to await transportation for the U.S. The 5th, with it's new "replacements" prepared to return to the U.S. and to refit for further service in the Pacific Theater.
  8/8/1945 SGT Sanford and his men boarded a troop ship at Le Havre, France and departed for the United States on 8 August 1945.
  8/24/1945 SGT Sanford was reassigned to M Company, 409th Infantry Regiment of the 103 'Cactus' Division. The entire division moved to Landsberg, Germany for pre-departure.
  9/9/1945 SGT Sanford arrived in the United States on 9 September 1945.
  9/14/1945 SGT Sanford was given an Honorable Discharge and was formally separated from the United States Army at Fort Sheridan, Illinois on 14 September 1945.

My War Awards
  • American Campaign Medal - WW II (The American Campaign Medal was first issued as the “American Theater Ribbon”, the decoration was intended to recognize those service members who had performed duty in the American Theater of Operations during World War II. a service member was required to either perform one year of duty (cumulative) within the continental borders of the United States, or perform 30 days consecutive/60 non-consecutive days of duty outside the borders of the United States but within the American Theater of Operations. The American Theater was defined as the entirety of the United States to include most of the Atlantic Ocean, a portion of Alaska, and a small portion of the Pacific bordering California and Baja California.)
  • American Defense Medal - WW II (The American Defense Service Medal is a decoration of the United States military, recognizing service before America’s entry into the Second World War but during the initial years of the European conflict. To denote foreign and pre-war battle service, SGT Sanford was also authorized the Foreign Service Clasp issued by the US Army for military service outside the continental limits of the United States, including service in Alaska.)
  • Army Good Conduct Medal (The Good Conduct Medal is awarded to any active-duty enlisted member of the United States military who completes three consecutive years of "honorable and faithful service".)
  • Bronze Star Medal (Awarded for distinctive heroism against the enemy on 24 December 1944, near Scheidgen, Luxembourg. Then-PFC Sanford and a fellow soldier, occupied a highly exposed position while supporting their Company against an enemy counterattack and helped capture a stongly held enemy wooded area. SGT Sanford was also authorized an additional award of the Bronze Star Medal (1 Oak Leaf Cluster, denoting 2nd award) recognizing his dedicated service and sacrifice as a front line combat infantrymen who had been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge Badge between Dec. 7, 1941 and Sept. 3, 1945.)
  • Combat Infantry Badge (The Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) is a U.S. Army combat service recognition decoration awarded to soldiers—enlisted men and officers (commissioned and warrant) holding colonel rank or below, who personally fought in active ground combat while an assigned member of either an infantry or a Special Forces unit, of brigade size or smaller, any time after 6 December 1941.)
  • Combat Service (To denote Combat Service, an Overseas Service Bar is displayed as an embroidered gold bar worn horizontally (during World War II) on the left-lower sleeve of the U.S. Army Class A uniform. Each embroidered bar is presented for serving 6 months overseas in a combat zone.)
  • European - African - Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (The European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal is a military decoration of the United States Armed Forces and was intended to recognize those military service members who had performed military duty in the European Theater (to include North Africa and the Middle East) during the years of the Second World War. SGT. Sanford's includes 1 Silver Campaign Star to denote five campaigns; Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe.)
  • World War II Army of Occupation Service Medal (The Army of Occupation Medal was created in the aftermath of the Second World War to recognize those who had performed occupation service in either Germany or Japan. SGT Sanford was authorized the Army of Occupation Medal with a campaign clasp ('Germany'), denoting his European service, which his occupation duties had been performed.)
  • World War II Victory Medal (This decoration commemorates military service during World War II and is awarded to any member of the United States military, including members of the armed forces of the Government of the Philippine Islands, who served on active duty, or as a reservist, between December 7, 1941 and December 31, 1946.)
My War Pictures
Click on the pictures to enlarge.
        
  Top Row, the 3rd Army patch (left), 5th Inf. Div. Patch (right). Next to patches, Enlisted Collar discs. Above military ribbons is the Combat Infantryman Badge. The 7 ribbons & medals; Bronze Star Medal w/1 OLC, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal w/1 bronze star, European-African-Middle-Eastern Campaign medal w/1 silver campaign star (Denotes 5 campaigns; Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, & Central Europe), World War II Victory Medal, & Army of Occupation Medal w/Germany Clasp. On left side is 'Ruptured Duck', honorable discharge lapel pin, right side, sew-on 'Ruptured Duck' Honorable Discharge patch. In the center is his Driver/Mechanic Badge with Driver-T (Track) bar. On the left side are his overseas bars (denotes 3 years foreign service) & on right side is one service bar (denotes 3 years honorable service). Bottom row is the highest rank he wore--Sergeant. Near the SGT stripes, are his DUI for the 2nd Inf. Top Row, the 3rd Army patch (left), 5th Inf. Div. Patch (right). Next to patches, Enlisted Collar discs. Above military ribbons is the Combat Infantryman Badge. The 7 ribbons & medals; Bronze Star Medal w/1 OLC, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal w/1 bronze star, European-African-Middle-Eastern Campaign medal w/1 silver campaign star (Denotes 5 campaigns; Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, & Central Europe), World War II Victory Medal, & Army of Occupation Medal w/Germany Clasp. On left side is 'Ruptured Duck', honorable discharge lapel pin, right side, sew-on 'Ruptured Duck' Honorable Discharge patch. In the center is his Driver/Mechanic Badge with Driver-T (Track) bar. On the left side are his overseas bars (denotes 3 years foreign service) & on right side is one service bar (denotes 3 years honorable service). Bottom row is the highest rank he wore--Sergeant.  Near the SGT stripes, are his DUI for the 2nd Inf. Then-PVT Sanford on the back of an recon truck during a training exercise. Then-PVT Sanford on the back of an recon truck during a training exercise. The 'Giant Killer'; the 5th Division's big guns. The 'Giant Killer'; the 5th Division's big guns.
  Antitank weapons of the 5th Infantry Division. Antitank weapons of the 5th Infantry Division. 2nd Infantry Regiment soldiers at the firing range. 2nd Infantry Regiment soldiers at the firing range. Pass and review! Pass and review!
  Keeping fit. Keeping fit. Communications and supplies. Communications and supplies. Mortar crews. Mortar crews.
  Infantry soldiers in the field, demonstrating the charge. Infantry soldiers in the field, demonstrating the charge. Riflemen of the 2nd Infantry Regiment doing what they do best, soldiering in the field. Riflemen of the 2nd Infantry Regiment doing what they do best, soldiering in the field. The men of the 2nd Infantry Regiment in action. The men of the 2nd Infantry Regiment in action.
  Regimental heraldry of the 2nd Infantry Regiment. Regimental heraldry of the 2nd Infantry Regiment. Old black and white pic of the 2nd Infantry Regiment's heraldry and background information. Old black and white pic of the 2nd Infantry Regiment's heraldry and background information. Colonel Isaac Gill Jr., 2nd Infantry Regiment Commander. Colonel Isaac Gill Jr., 2nd Infantry Regiment Commander.
  A letter to the Officers and Men of the 2nd Infantry Regiment. A letter to the Officers and Men of the 2nd Infantry Regiment. Modern 5th Infantry Division 'Red Diamond' shoulder sleeve insignia (SSI). Modern 5th Infantry Division 'Red Diamond' shoulder sleeve insignia (SSI). Old picture of the 5th Infantry Division insignia and the history behind it. Old picture of the 5th Infantry Division insignia and the history behind it.
  5th Infantry Division Commander, Brigadier General Cortlandt Parker, circa 1941. 5th Infantry Division Commander, Brigadier General Cortlandt Parker, circa 1941. Letter from then-Brig. Gen. Cortlandt Parker, 5th Infantry Division, Commanding, to the Officers and Men under his command. Letter from then-Brig. Gen. Cortlandt Parker, 5th Infantry Division, Commanding, to the Officers and Men under his command. A map of Europe, of the 5th Infantry Division's route during World War II. Map was created by Technician 5th Class Keith Pitzer. A map of Europe, of the 5th Infantry Division's route during World War II.  Map was created by Technician 5th Class Keith Pitzer.
  Company M, 2nd Infantry Regiment at Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin conducting live-fire training, circa 1941. Company M, 2nd Infantry Regiment at Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin conducting live-fire training, circa 1941.