PFC Elmer B. Heath
47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division
KIA 9 March, 1945 at Bruchhausen, Germany
Medals: Purple Heart, Bronze Star, European-African-MiddleEastern
Campaign Media with 1 bronze service star, World War II Victory Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge
-- Daughters, Helen Heath Vernon and Nancy Heath Lawson --
Elmer B. Heath and his twin brother Delmar Ray were born on August 4th 1918.
They were the first born children of Scott and Nora Heath and they lived in
a small community nestled in the foothills of southwest Virginia near
Chilhowie, VA. They were part of a very close knit farming family,
surrounded by the beauty of nature and the simple life of that day.
They survived the great depression by raising their own food and were
somewhat protected from the evils of the world by the serenity of their
family and friends. Through the years, their family increased and eventually
included the boys Elmer & Delmar Ray, Roy, Marvin, Cecil and Ernest and the
girls Anna James, Hazel and Dorothy. By this time, the country was
embarking on the greatest war of all time, but they had no idea of the
impact this would have on their family.
In 1939, Elmer married Virginia Jones and in 1941 they were blessed with
their 1st child, a daughter, Nancy. While struggling with the war-ravaged
economy, he was making their living by whatever was available at the time.
In 1943, the 2nd daughter Helen was born. By this time the war had
accelerated and his imminent induction into the Army loomed on the horizon.
Like the men of his day Daddy accepted the call in May of 1944 with no
complaints, even though his heart remained at home with his family. He was
inducted at Fort George Meade, MD and went through his Basic Training at
Camp Wheeler in Georgia hoping against hope that the war would end before he
had to go across the sea.
When he found that was not to be the case, he shipped out in October 1944,
accepting his duty with the bravery and honorable commitment of the men of
his day. He most probably sailed to Europe on October 12, 1944 aboard the
Queen Mary. Shipping reports of WWII troopships show this as the only
transport of replacements in October of that year. He embarked on the Queen
Mary in New York and disembarked on October 18, 1944 in Gourock, Scotland.
By the time he arrived in Scotland, the allied advance in Europe had
proceeded rapidly. Daddy most probably was taken to Southampton by train
and shipped to Le Havre, France on December 11, 1944 aboard the troopship
Monrovia. The Monrovia arrived at La Havre December 14, 1944 disembarking
many troops for many different Divisions who were only days away from the
last major German counter-offensive, the Battle of the Bulge. After arriving
in the European Theater Daddy was assigned to Company A, 47th Infantry
Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, and was most probably sent to the front
immediately when the Germans caught the Allies by surprise on December 16,
1944. This last major German counter-offensive took place in the Belgian
forests of the Ardennes.
Through the letters that were saved, we have come to know the softness of
our Dad that proved through the test of time to be so strong. In his
letters home Daddy was more concerned about his brothers than he was of
himself. His three brothers were serving in the war at the same time.
Marvin was in the Pacific Campaign and Delmar and Roy were in the European
Campaign. Even though he hoped against hope that he would be able to see
Delmar and Roy that did not happen. Delmar Ray, Roy and Marvin all made it
back home safely.
From mid-December through January 1945, the 9th Division held defensive
positions from Kalterherberg to Elsenborn. From there, on January 30, 1945
the Division jumped off from Monschau in a drive across the Roer and to the
Rhine, crossing at Remagen on March 7, 1945. The famous Ludendorff Bridge
at Remagen had been taken intact by the 9th Armored Division and a
bridgehead was quickly established. The following objective of the Division
was breaking out of the Remagen bridgehead and sealing and clearing the Ruhr
Pocket. On March 7, 1945, Daddy‚s unit was ordered to the Ludendorff Bridge
over the Rhine. Early on March 8th, the 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry
Regiment arrived and immediately crossed the river. These units passed
through Orsberg and attacked toward Bruchhausen where eventually all
resistance was overcome. It was during this fierce battle that Daddy and
many other brave soldiers lost their lives.
Daddy was killed in action at 1500 hrs on March 9th, 1945 in Bruchhausen
Germany, which is a small town just on the other side of the Ludendorff
Bridge near Remagen. History relates that this battle was one of the most
important for the Allied Forces in accomplishing their mission to defeat the
Germans. During the war, the forests surrounding Bruchhausen were used by
the Germans to launch the V-1. Daddy and the others gave their lives, but
they silenced this weapon of terror.
Our Mother was notified of Daddy‚s death on March 21st 1945, which was 11
days after he fell. At that time we were 3 ł years and 17 months old. We
have learned through a letter to our mother dated 8 October 1945 that Daddy
was buried on March 14, 1945 in a temporary grave at Henri-Chapelle in Plot
D-4, Row 5, Grave 93. Our mother received a second letter dated 27
September 1948 notifying her of his permanent burial at Henri-Chapelle in
Plot D, Row 12, Grave 40.
We grew up in the small rural community of Chilhowie, VA and later moved to
Marion, VA. We were taught to respect and love the father we had never
known, and who was always our Hero. Our mother gave us the greatest gift
she possibly could by keeping us in constant contact with our grandparents
and with our aunts and uncles. We, and our families, have experienced the
love and companionship of our father through his family. That is truly a
gift that cannot be measured and will live on through generations.
Mother departed this life on April 20th, 2000 after devoting her entire life
to us, her girls, and keeping the memory of our father alive for us. She
never remarried. We are now blessed with the next generation of 7
grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren who share in the mission of forever
keeping the memory of our fallen hero alive.
Although we cannot remember him, we feel in our hearts that we know him, and
we miss him and love him.