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thedrifter
08-08-09, 07:52 AM
August 8, 2009
Purple Heart Day honors service of medal recipients

By Nick Paulson
Journal staff

Harry Golomski spent nearly a day pinned down on the bank of the Rhine river during the Battle of the Bulge. Stuck in the snow as Germans zeroed in on the Marines building a bridge, he couldn't move until the bridge was finished.

When he finally crossed, his unit was peppered with fire as the Germans opened up.

"I had bullets hitting right around my legs, but they were missing me," recalled Golomski, 85, originally of Rosholt. "I lucked out."

On Friday, Golomski was one of four veterans honored for their Purple Hearts at the Oakridge Senior Living Community in recognition of national Purple Heart Day, honoring veterans who have received the medal given to those wounded or killed in battle.

Not everyone around Golomski on that day was so lucky. As he turned to his left, his partner was gunned down.

"He yelled at me, 'Don't turn around,' because they were zeroed in on us," Golomski said, his voice breaking and eyes filling with tears as he thought back to that January day in 1945.

During the ensuing battle, Golomski was knocked unconscious three times. The final time, he woke up in a box car heading to England. He was treated for frostbite on his feet from his time cramped along the riverbank.

Friday's remembrance illustrated the array of veterans who received the Purple Heart and their service.

Some, such as Fred Klingbail, 93, originally from Stevens Point, are almost casual about their experiences some 60 years ago. Asked why he was awarded the medal, Klingbail was quite frank.

"Just a couple bullet shots, that's all," he said of his wounds suffered while serving in the Philippines in 1945. But Klingbail still has the papers from 1945 recognizing his Purple Heart and the oak leaf clusters he received for his second award.

Others can't help but feel a bit lucky. Richard Jansing Sr., 89, received his Purple Heart after leading artillery fire at the Battle of Manila in the Philippines in 1945. His plane helped guide the fire that eventually knocked a hole in the city's wall, allowing troops to take the city.

But later in the battle, his pilot went up without him. When the plane landed and Jansing surveyed the cockpit, he got quite a shock. A bullet hole pierced his seat, traveling directly through where he would have been sitting.

Harlow Henninger, 91, originally from Chili, was part of a battle that occurred just two days before the Japanese troops pulled out of New Guinea, where he was stationed. They launched an attack under the cover of darkness, attempting to break the Americans' line.

"We were exchanging rifle fire and grenade fire," said Henninger, who was wounded by a grenade. "If they were moving, we were shooting."

The Purple Heart is one of the most honored medals a soldier can receive, and are a constant source of pride. But they also can be a reminder of sorrow.

"I received mine 40 some years too late," Golomski said. Improper paperwork delayed his award for decades. "My mom had already died by then."

Ellie