CPL Perlee McKinley Kaufman, Jr.
8th Infantry Division, 13th Regiment, L Company
KIA 22 December, 1944
-- David L. Kaufman --
My father, Perlee Kaufman, AKA Lee or Junior, was born on August 28, 1919 in Massillon, Ohio to Mary Ann (Cocklin) and Perlee Kaufman Sr.
He was one of eight children; Thora Rhea (Youngman) 1916-1949, Maxine Isabel (Anania) 1917, Robert Warren 1920-1924, Mary Louise (Wilhelm)
1922-2001, Betty Jean (Krisher) 1923, Donald Leory 1925-1997 and Lois Marie (Stephan) 1926.
In 1938, Jr, as he was known while attending Massillon Washington High School, began boxing as a "Simon Pure"; at the local Boys Club. While
being managed by his father-in-law Dave "Kid Gloves" Lake, he compiled a very good record and was regarded as a hard puncher who always kept
the pressure on his opponent.
My mom, Letha Mae (Lake) and dad were married March 8, 1942. He was inducted into the Army April 22, 1942 where he became a physical instructor
and middle weight boxing champion at Fort Bragg. Lee, the name he now preferred, had over 33 wins without a defeat for Btry F, 10th BN. 4th F.A.
Tng. REGT. and appeared in the October 1942 as well as the November 1943 issue of The Ring Magazine.
I was born January 8, 1944 and according to my mother he was proud to have a son but disappointed at my timing because he had to give up the
opportunity to work in Joe Louis'corner.
Because my mother was only 20 years old and was so devastated when my dad was killed, she didn't investigate anything about his death. Besides
all information was either Top Secret or Confidential and could not be accessed. While growing up, it's not that I wasn't interested in knowing
about my dad, it's just that I accepted what my mom told me. He was killed in the "Battle of the Bulge."
Years came and went and soon 1994 was upon us: the 50 th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. I, as well as many, many other war orphans, was
drawn to find out more about our father. I attended a meeting for survivors of the Battle of the Bulge and wrote to their newsletter asking about
my dad. Ann Mix answered my letter and thus I discovered AWON. Next I visited the Military Museum in Massillon, Ohio, where Richard Byers had a
display on the Bulge. More time, more letters and somehow COL Jack, O. Forgery (Ret) found me. Although I'm far from finished with my research,
I have found some information that was not correct and some that was quite disturbing. For one thing the 8th wasn't involved in the Bulge. However,
they were close. Mom assumed that he had died in the Bulge because of the time frame and location. I discovered, from letters and one phone
conversation from a man who had been with his outfit, where and probably how he died. This is what I found: 1) morning reports aren't always correct,
2) replacements were usually not known by their comrades, 3) men who were there can recall minute details, 4) my dad was killed in Bergstein, Germany
on or near Hill 400, 5) he was most likely killed by shrapnel, 6) he was buried Christmas Day.
In September of 2002 my wife, Jan, and I traveled to Margraten and then to Hill 400. While in Margraten we met a married couple who belong to the
Adopt-a-Grave Program. Joe, who is Belgian and Lily, who is Dutch are just two of the caring and compassionate people of those two countries who have
vowed to remember what was given for them.
Not only did I miss out on knowing my dad, but my daughter, Christine (Bennett) and son, Eric, who was born December 22, 1973, 29 years to the day
after his grandfather's death, did also.
My mother remarried in 1952. My step-dad, Bill Waller, who served in the Army Air Corps during WW II, was instrumental in my enlisting in the Air Force
in 1963. Bill died in 1995. I wish he and my dad could have met, but if they had, this probably never would have been written.
There is one thing I'd like to say to both of them and all the others who fought, served and sometimes died so that we might have what we sometimes
take for granted. Thanks.