b. 30/11/1921 Grand Island, New York. d. 09/06/1944 Merderet River, France.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 09/06/1944 Merderet River, France.
Charles N. DeGlopper entered the United States Army in November 1942. He trained at Camp Croft, South Carolina. He was deployed overseas in April 1943, where he served in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France. He was ultimately killed in action on June 9, 1944 in La Fière, Manche, Normandy, France.
In the late evening of June 6, 1944, the 82nd Airborne’s glider troops began to arrive in France staged from Aldermaston airfield, each involving hundreds of CG-4 Waco and Airspeed Horsa gliders and managed in code-named phases denoted: Mission Keokuk, Mission Elmira, and the final two glider landings were scheduled for June 7, 1944 during the morning hours in Missions Galveston and Hackensack which brought in the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment (325th GIR). Mission Galveston arrived in two serials of fifty gliders each and while the first had something of a disastrous landing, the second fared slightly better, but less than 50% of their equipment was recoverable. Mission Hackensack, the last to arrive, brought in the remaining 1,300 glidermen of the 325th GIR and their equipment. Also arriving in two serials, the gliders began landing on the 7th at 0900 in broad daylight. Despite the apparent destruction on the ground, the operation was a great success with most of the troops and nearly all of their equipment getting delivered to the battlefield. Nearly 90% of the 325th GIR’s men were assembled within a few hours of landing and moved towards Chef du Pont, France.
Leading his troops, regimental commander Colonel Harry Lewis was ordered to make a crossing of the le Merderet River and help attack La Fière Bridge from the opposite side. Seeing a small fording area across the river, Col. Lewis sent his 1st Battalion to wade across under cover of darkness; their objective was to attack the force defending the bridge. Themselves under attack, C Company 1st Battalion was cut off from the rest of the battalion and despite himself coming under increased fire, Private First Class Charles DeGlopper stood up and began to fire his Browning Automatic Rifle at the attacking Germans in an attempt to suppress their fire and relieve the battalion.
Although wounded, PFC DeGlopper continued to stand and fire, and when hit yet again, still fired although kneeling and bleeding profusely. Meanwhile, as the Germans were distracted and occupied with PFC DeGlopper’s automatic fire, the remainder of C Company was able to break off and head for La Fière to join the rest of their battalion.
For his self-sacrificial actions, Private First Class Charles DeGlopper posthumously received the Medal of Honor on February 28, 1946, the only member of the 82nd Airborne Division so honored in Normandy.
He was a member of Company C, 325th Glider Infantry, on 9 June 1944 advancing with the forward platoon to secure a bridgehead across the Merderet River at La Fière, France. At dawn the platoon had penetrated an outer line of machineguns and riflemen, but in so doing had become cut off from the rest of the company. Vastly superior forces began a decimation of the stricken unit and put in motion a flanking maneuver which would have completely exposed the American platoon in a shallow roadside ditch where it had taken cover. Detecting this danger, Pfc. DeGlopper volunteered to support his comrades by fire from his automatic rifle while they attempted a withdrawal through a break in a hedgerow 40 yards to the rear. Scorning a concentration of enemy automatic weapons and rifle fire, he walked from the ditch onto the road in full view of the Germans, and sprayed the hostile positions with assault fire. 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 insurmountable odds were in great measure responsible for a highly important tactical victory in the Normandy Campaign.
BURIAL LOCATION: MAPLE GROVE CEMETERY, GRAND ISLAND, NEW YORK.
ROW 5 LEFT, PLOT 4
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.