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|Joseph Andrew Ditzhazy, Sr.
War: World War II|
Branch: United States Army
Unit: 104th Infantry Division, 415th Regiment "Old Faithful"
Shoulder Patch: (Howling) Timberwolf
Highest Rank: P.F.C.
Birth Year: December 13, 1923
Citations: Two Bronzw Stars, Purple Heart
Place of Birth: Ecorse, Michigan
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Joseph was drafted in August 1943. He is from Michigan, and was in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the Upper Peninsula. The army let him finish high school before he entered the service. He was sent to Fort Benning for training around 20 yrs old. He had only 13 weeks of training before he then went to school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and was there for several weeks of engineering training. He failed on purpose so that he would be able to join the army immediately, rather than after college training. He joined the 104th Howling Timberwolves at Camp Carson in Colorado for training until they went overseas. They trained at night and were known as “Night-Fighters.” Joseph only fought in one daylight battle while overseas.|
He landed in Normandy 3 months after D-Day (D+90). They moved through France and into Belgium. Three days later they received orders to get ready to fight in Holland, where they fought to free the port of Antwerp. Next they crossed into Germany over the Roer River to Aachen to assist the 1st division.
His unit spent 195 days in constant combat with Germans. This included Holland down to Aachen and until the wars end. He was in a mortar battalion, and was a squad leader, although he was never formally recognized. Another squad leader didn’t like him and denied knowing him when asked. He only fought 120 of those days because he was wounded. Shrapnel from a shell hit him and he lay for eight hours waiting for rescue. He was put on a train to Paris, and then to England. He woke up in Oxford in a hospital. He stayed there for three months while he recovered. He was finally sent back to the States, and he arrived in southern California, where he was discharged.
After his discharge in 1946 he attended Michigan State, and worked for GM and Chrysler as a quality control manager. His unit, the 104th, have had a reunion every year since 1946. It is held every labor-day weekend.