Wednesday, July 17, 2013

TFH 7/17: 1LT David C. Waybur, USA

David Crowder Waybur was born in Oakland, California in 1919. He enlisted in the United States Army on November 22, 1940. Before becoming a soldier, he was a grocery clerk and a ranch hand. By 1943 and the Allied invasion of Sicily, he had been commissioned as an officer and promoted to First Lieutenant. He was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division.

On July 17, 1943 - seventy years ago to the day - Lieutenant Waybur commanded a motorized patrol to locate a Ranger unit that had become cut off. Advancing in darkness, the patrol was stopped at a knocked out bridge by four enemy tanks. Even though the small patrol was outnumbered and vastly outgunned, Waybur rallied his men, organized a defense, and when all their machine gun ammunition was expended, stood alone with just a Thompson submachine gun. His indomitable courage was recognized with the Medal of Honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (T-Z):


Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 3d Reconnaissance Troop, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Agrigento, Sicily, 17 July 1943. Entered service at: Piedmont, Calif. Birth: Oakland, Calif. G.O. No.: 69, 21 October 1943. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action involving actual conflict with the enemy. Commander of a reconnaissance platoon, 1st Lt. Waybur volunteered to lead a 3-vehicle patrol into enemy-held territory to locate an isolated Ranger unit. Proceeding under cover of darkness, over roads known to be heavily mined, and strongly defended by road blocks and machinegun positions, the patrol's progress was halted at a bridge which had been destroyed by enemy troops and was suddenly cut off from its supporting vehicles by 4 enemy tanks. Although hopelessly outnumbered and out-gunned, and himself and his men completely exposed, he quickly dispersed his vehicles and ordered his gunners to open fire with their .30 and .50 caliber machineguns. Then, with ammunition exhausted, 3 of his men hit and himself seriously wounded, he seized his .45 caliber Thompson submachinegun and standing in the bright moonlight directly in the line of fire, alone engaged the leading tank at 30 yards and succeeded in killing the crewmembers, causing the tank to run onto the bridge and crash into the stream bed. After dispatching 1 of the men for aid he rallied the rest to cover and withstood the continued fire of the tanks till the arrival of aid the following morning.

After being awarded the Medal of Honor by Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, commanding the Fifth United States Army that the 3rd Infantry Division was then part of, Waybur was sent home to the United States to participate in war bonds sales rallies and to boost morale on the home front. Like other returned heroes such as Marine John Basilone, Lieutenant Waybur knew his place in time of war was back at the front.

He returned to his comrades with the 3rd Reconnaissance Troop and the 3rd Infantry Division fighting in France. First Lieutenant David C. Waybur was killed in action in Germany on March 28, 1945. He rests today in the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial, St. Avold, France, along with 10,488 of his fallen comrades. The cemetery also honors 444 servicemen missing in action. There are 30 sets of brothers, and 151 unknown soldiers interred there.

The 3rd Infantry Division today fulfills worldwide missions with its four brigade combat teams from their home station of Fort Stewart, Georgia.

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