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William Henry Filemyr (1912 - 1997)

William Henry Filemyr was born in Frankford, Philadelphia on November 13, 1912. His parents were William Henry Filemyr, Jr. and Mary Priscilla Scheuerle. He graduated from Frankford High School, where he played varsity football. He was chosen by the Philadelphia Sports Writers as left tackle on the All-Philadelphia Public High School Football Team. Bill was elected to the honor society, the Frankford Thirteen Club. He attended LaSalle College, where he was elected President of his Class and also played end on the varsity football team. He moved to Bridgeport NJ in 1937 and became involved in farming as a partner with Albert and Walter Hughes

Bill enlisted in the United States Army in January of 1941. He attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Knox, Kentucky and received a commission in the Armored Branch of the Army. After serving as a training officer at Fort Knox, he was assigned to the 10th Armored Division and fought in three major campaigns as a mobile reserve unit to Patton's Third Army. He was awarded the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star for gallantry in action, the Purple Heart and a Unit Citation.

 

Silver Star Citation
From 10th Armored Division General Order 158 - July 11, 1945
"By direction of the President.....a Silver Star is awarded to:
First Lieutenant William H. Filemyr 01011069, Infantry, Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 54th Armored Infantry Battalion, United States Army, for gallantry in action at Schwiech, Germany on 5 March 1945. Lieutenant Filemyr, company commander, braving intense hostile fire, reorganized his men and courageously led them in a successful attack to secure an enemy held bridge. His gallant achievement reflects great credit upon himself and the miltary forces of the United States. Entered military service from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania"

Bill's unit crossing the bridge at Schweich Germany that his company captured on the day he won his Silver Star. Who knows, maybe he is one of the guys in the picture.
 

Silver Star with Oak-Leaf Cluster Citation
From 10th Armored Division General Order 193 - July 19, 1945
"By direction of the President.....in addition to the Silver Star previously awarded, a Bronze Oak-Leaf Cluster is awarded to:
First Lieutenant William H. Filemyr 01011069, Infantry, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 54th Armored Infantry Battalion, United States Army, for gallantry in action at Kerling France on 16 November 1944. Braving intense enemy artillary, morter and small arms fire, Lieutenant Filemyr, platoon leader personally led his platoon in neutralizing a fiercely defended road block. His gallant achievement reflects great credit upon himself and the millitary forces of the United States. Entered the military service from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania"

Bronze Star Citation
From 10th Armored Division General Order 239 - August 1, 1945
"By direction of the President.....a Bronze Star is awarded to:
First Lieutenant William H. Filemyr 01011069, Infantry, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 54th Armored Infantry Battalion, United States Army, for heroic achievment in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States States at Lauderborn, Germany on 19 December 1944. Braving intense enemy machine gun fire, First Lieutenant Filemyr, platoon leader, couregously led platoons through enemy held territory to successfully contact a besigned friendly unit. His exemplary conduct reflects great credit upon himself and the military forces of the United States. Entered military service from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania."

Note: Preliminary research failed to find a town called Lauderborn, Germany. Further research has shown that "Lauderborn, Germany" is Lauterborn, Luxembourg a "suburb" of Echternach. Lauderborn is the historical name for the town. The Germans did not recognize Luxemburg so it is not surprising that it is listed as Germany. The Allied Forces named a prominent hill in the area "Hill 313". This was because the available maps (German and French) showed the heights of hills in meters.

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Unit Citation
From the War Department General Order 17, March 13, 1945
"the following unit is cited by the War Department ...... in the name of the President of the United States as public evidence of deserved honor and distinction.
101st Airborne Division (less 2nd Battalion, 401st Glider Infantry Regiment), with the following-attached units: ........
Combat Command B, 10th Armored Division including:......
54th Armored Infantry Battalion (less Company A and C);
These units distinguished themselves in combat against powerful and aggressive enemy forces composed of elements of 8 German divisions during the period from 18 December to 27 December 1944 by extraordinary heroism and gallantry in defense of the key communications center of Bastogne, Belgium.
Essential to a large-scale exploitation of his break-through into Belgium and northern Luxembourg, the enemy attempted to seize Bastogne by attacking constantly and savagely with the best of his armor and infantry.
Without benefit of prepared defenses, facing almost overwhelming odds and with very limited and fast dwindling supplies, these units maintained a high combat morale and an impenetrable defense, despite extremely heavy bombing, intense artillery fire, and constant attacks from infantry and armor on all sides of their completely cut off and encircled position. This masterful and grimly determined defense denied the enemy even momentary success in an operation for which he paid dearly in men, material, and eventually morale.
The outstanding courage and resourcefulness and undaunted determination of this gallant force is in keeping with the highest traditions of the service.
"

Note: It was the 101st Airborne Division which was awarded the Unit Citation for the defense of Bastogne, not the 10th Armored Division (Bill Filemyr's divison). Research has shown that elements of the 10th Division, including the 54th Armored Infantry Battalion "operated independently in conjunction with the 101st Airborne Division until December 21, when it was attached to the 101st and came under its command." The actual Unit Citation for the 101st Airborne Division contains a list of the non-101st attached units who share in the Unit Citation. Bill Filemyr's unit, the 54th Armored Infantry Battalion is one of the listed attached units.

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Bill was discharged from active service in November 1945.

Bill returned to Bridgeport and resumed the agricultural pursuit as a self-employed farmer. He married the former Grace Evans Folker on June 22, 1946.

They had one son, John, who was an economist with the U.S. Department of Labor before his retirement in January 2011. Bill was elected to the Logan Township Committee, taking office January 1962 and was elected Mayor in January 1963 and served until 1976.

Bill was an active participant in the following organizations: Logan Township Representative to the Executive Committee of the Gloucester County Board of Agriculture, served as President of the Gloucester County Board of Agriculture, elected for fifteen consecutive years as area representative to the Gloucester County Soil Conservation and Stabilization Committee, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Underwood-Memorial Hospital, member of the Swedesboro Kiwanis Club, member of the Advisory Board of the Logan Branch of the First National Bank of South Jersey, member of the Gloucester County Mayors' Association, and is a member of the Bridgeport Couples' Club. He died on April 24, 1997 at Underwood-Memorial Hospital, Woodbury, NJ. Bill is buried, beside Grace, in Bridgeport Cemetery, Bridgeport NJ.


Sources:

US Army General Orders, 10th Armored Division.

US Army General Orders, 101st Airbourne Division.

Program from Testimonial Dinner December 12, 1976


Further information

John Filemyr (son)

Bert Filemyr (nephew)

Alice Filemyr (niece) (general Filemyr genealogy)