PFC George Francis Higgins
358th Inf 90th Div
Killed 16 March, 1945
Near Halsenbach, Germany
-- George "Pete" Higgins, Jr. --
Dad had just graduated as an architect from the University of Illinois and
had begun practice when he was drafted and inducted 9 November, 1943. On 10
June, 1944, he was attached to Co. C, Corps. of Engineers. This is the last time
I saw daddy, but it's not in my memory; I was only ten months old. Dad was on
the ship from 16 June, 1944 to 27 June, 1944 as he sailed from New York to
Liverpool, England; and then again from 1 November, 1944 to 2 November, 1944
when he sailed from Newport, England to France to enter the war.
Daddy was promoted to PFC and the Army Specialty "Scout" on 24 January,
1945, becoming driver of a reconnaissance jeep in HQ & HQCo., 358th Inf.
Regt, 3rd Army, 12th Army Group, 90th Infantry Division.
During the time dad was overseas, he was awarded the Combat Infantryman
Badge, 7 Dec, 1944; authorized to wear one overseas service bar, 16 Dec,
1944; authorized to wear the European-African-MidEastern Theatre Campaign
Ribbon, 1 Jan, 1945; awarded the Good Conduct Medal, 29 Jan, 1945; and
earned the Purple Heart, 16 March, 1945.
Daddy was killed in action at 1002 that morning. He was driving the jeep
toward Halsenbach, Germany when the convoy was strafed by aircraft. Another
soldier wrote to my mother saying dad was killed instantly and died with a
look of astonishment on his face. Daddy now rests with his comrades in the
American Military Cemetery in Luxembourg. I was 19 months old.
My search of the National Archives in 1999 revealed that the gunner in the
back of daddy's jeep was also killed, and that the interpreter who was riding
next to dad, was wounded. The Morning Report also revealed that the aircraft
was unfortunately for all, a P-47, one of our own. I feel a great sadness
for the pilot, imagining the burden that instant in time must have been to
his life. My daddy would certainly have embraced his comrade in arms as I
do, saying there is nothing to forgive and that our families share the
horror of war.
To my daddy: Your Alpha Rho Chi brothers helped me feel your spirit in their
eloquent 1945 dedication to you, "Every man in the fraternity that knew
George with his humor, and the good fellow that he was, will miss every bit
of Higgins. Results of war has taken some of our best men. George was one
of the best because everybody, yes everybody liked George Higgins. One of
our true arch stones has departed."