Honoring Fallen Heroes: A Tribute to Staff Sgt. Harry Wells and the Greatest Generation

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We received some sad news last week. The mother of one of my best friends passed away. As a fellow of a certain age (child of the ‘80s), the passing of parents, unfortunately, is becoming a regular occurrence.

Karen was 82, with brain aneurysms and other health complications. Her doctors had informed her that she effectively had a ticking time bomb in her head. So, although we weren’t necessarily surprised to learn that she had died suddenly, we were deeply saddened.

It always seems the sun shines a little less brightly when good, kind people check out of Hotel Humanity. Selfishly, it feels even dimmer when we lose a true champion in our lives. And Karen was, for reasons not entirely clear to me, a faithful champion of the Kittle cause.

In recent years, Karen often talked about the father she never knew and how she was looking forward to meeting him in heaven. She was a toddler when her dad, a staff sergeant in the Army’s famed 88th Infantry Division — the Blue Devils — was killed in one of the bloodiest battles of World War II’s Italian campaign.

The Army-typed casualty list is long and breathtaking. Harry O. Wells, from the rolling hills of southwest Wisconsin, was a very young man when he died fighting on a hill in Italy known as Monte Battaglia, or Battle Mountain. His 350th Infantry Regiment was recognized for extraordinary valor.

‘Seven Bloody Days’

Wells, like so many of the young men of the Greatest Generation who fought in World War II, had a bright future ahead of him. Before entering the service in December 1942, Wells had attended aeronautical school in Lincoln, Nebraska, and worked at an aircraft plant in Cleveland. His promising life was cut short a long way from home.

The staff sergeant’s last week on earth was spent holding off German soldiers in northern Italy’s Tuscan–Emilian Apennines mountain chain.

“For seven days, amidst powerful counterattacks, the men of the battalion repulsed each attack with fighting ability and teamwork, therefore, their objective was accomplished,” an entry in American War Memorials Overseas sums up the brutal contest in military terms. But the Allied victory came with a terrible cost.

The Army Historical Foundation describes the tense weeks leading up to the great battle, noting the 88th “could sense it was once again to go into combat.” The Blue Devils attacked on Sept. 10, 1944, enduring enemy fire and “rainy, cold and miserable” conditions at the front. They marched through deep mud and water in “some of the heaviest fighting that fall.”

“While studying the Allies to figure out where to launch his main attacks, Field Marshall Albert Kesselring, the German commander, held his reserves in preparation for a surprise counter-attack,” the foundation records. “That attack occurred 28 September when elements of four German divisions assaulted the 350th Infantry atop Mount Battaglia. For seven bloody days, the Blue Devils threw back every assault and held the critical position.”

“They had won the battle, but not without great cost — approximately fifty percent of the 350th were killed, wounded, or missing. For its heroic part in the ferocious fighting at Mount Battaglia, the 2nd Battalion, 350th Infantry, earned a Distinguished Unit Citation.”

Karen’s father, with a wife and 2-year-old daughter waiting for him, was among the many who would come home in a casket.

A ‘New Birth’ in Selfishness

On this Memorial Day weekend, we remember the countless stories of devotion from the men and women who so selflessly served their country in its gravest hours. We particularly commemorate the service members like Staff Sgt. Harry Wells who, as President Abraham Lincoln so eloquently noted in his Gettysburg Address, “gave the last full measure of devotion.”

When Lincoln delivered his brief but ever-resonating remarks at a newly consecrated memorial to the soldiers killed on that Pennsylvania battlefield, he spoke of the duty the living had to ensure that “these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

I think of the millions of American freedom fighters who in so many ways fought for democracy and against despots and totalitarianism in just about every corner of the world over the last century and a half. Yet I can’t help but think how so much of what the union soldiers struggled for, what Harry Wells and so many of the Blue Devils died for, is disappearing or gone in modern-day America.

Our government of the people, by the people, for the people, is perishing before our eyes thanks to leaders who put power before individual liberty. The politics of personal identity and selfishness have replaced the founding values that made this God-blessed nation worthy of fighting — and dying — for.

The United States faces a crisis in military recruiting. There are a lot of reasons for that, but a loss of faith in the nation and its leaders is at the core. When the Pentagon is more interested in pushing an LGBT agenda than in preparing soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen to fight, confidence is a diminishing commodity. When you have a commander-in-chief who has routinely vilified the nation he is supposed to be serving, it’s a tough sell to ask young men and women to put their lives on the line to defend it.

And how do you field an army of democracy defenders when many of your young men and women have been falsely taught that their country is not the land of the free and the home of the brave, but the prison of the oppressed by the powerful and “privileged”? The freedom fighters of Wells’ generation have been replaced by self-involved campus brats who are incredibly defending terrorists, tyrants, and practitioners of genocide.

How confident are you that today’s leftist-indoctrinated younger Americans would or could defend America if another world war comes?

As we remember the selfless service members of conflicts past, we must contend with the selfishness of today. We’re stocked with DEI-fed social warriors; we’re dangerously short on USA-centered citizens like Harry Wells. We’d better come to terms with that fact or this nation under God as we have treasured it and many gave their lives to preserve will perish from the earth.

Truth Voices
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