Major Abraham Friedman, Troop B, 101st Squadron

Bronze Star

Capt. Abraham Friedman was ordered to take some men and find a place where the troops could bivouac. One of the men with him was Lt. Irwin Perkins, who was a good friend. With them were a driver and a radio man. After driving a while, they came to a fork in a gravel road. Capt. Friedman asked an Army engineer there if the road had been cleared of land mines.

 

“The Germans didn't put any mines here,” the man responded.

 

Capt Friedman was skeptical, so he and his men proceeded with caution. It had been raining, and Friedman hoped the rain might have created depressions where mines were buried. As their truck crawled along the muddy road, Friedman watched for any sign of mines and occasionally raised his binoculars and scanned the fields and hills for German patrols.

About a mile and a half from the fork in the road, he saw a farmhouse and a farmer about 60 years old and two children about 10 and 12 years old. Their presence on the road convinced Friedman that the engineer must have been right about the mines, so he got back in the truck. They hadn’t traveled more than a few minutes when they hit a mine, and Friedman was blown right out through the canvas top of their truck, landing hard on his backside.

 

Temporarily blinded in one eye by shrapnel, gravel, and blood and in shock, Friedman began to walk toward a farm house.

 

“I’m sorry for what happened,” he told his men. “I’m going to get help.”

 

Capt. Friedman wanted to get back to headquarters and get help for his men, but about halfway to the farmhouse the intense pain of his injuries brought him to his knees. He didn’t realize it at the time, but he had suffered a compression fracture that merged the fourth and fifth vertebrae in his back and both legs were broken. Shrapnel was almost everywhere in his body.

 

On his hands and knees he continued toward the farmhouse. One of the children spotted him, and the farmer came to help him the rest of the way. He put Friedman in a chair and washed of the blood and dirt. Friedman was able to communicate with the German farmer by speaking Yiddish, and he asked the man to take him back to the American lines. Afraid the Americans would shoot him, the farmer said no.

 

“I’m a captain,” said Friedman. “They will reward you.” Friedman was ready, however, to draw his pistol if the man did not cooperate. He had seen evidence that civilians were shooting captured American soldiers, so he was prepared to kill the farmer if necessary. In this case, however, the farmer cooperated. He got his horse and wagon and helped Capt. Friedman climb in.

 

“The bumpy ride in that wagon was agony for him,” wrote Friedman’s son, Lev Friedman. “After the farmer dropped him at headquarters, he took off like a shot, still afraid the Americans would kill him. My father never got to thank him.”

Help was sent immediately for the other men. Both men were severely injured. All the nerves were severed in the leg of the driver, and the radio operator died of his wounds in the ambulance.

 

A few weeks later, when the war had ended, Col. McClelland wrote to Friedman: “The officers here were distressed when word of your accident came in … we were still in the town of Windsheim, I believe. I have never been informed definitely of the extent of your injuries, but understand that they were most serious and have led to your discharge. We have attempted to recognize your services by recommending you for the Bronze Star award which, we sincerely hope, will be approved by higher authority. You certainly deserve it, and all this Group join me in recognition of your courage, proficiency, and ability to do a job.”

 

          Friedman was awarded the Bronze Star.

 

Declaration of the Award of the Bronze Star to Abraham Friedman: “By direction of the President and under the provisions of Army Regulations Cavalry, Headquarters, 101st Cavalry Group, Mechanized, United States Army, is awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States during the period 28 March 1945 to 15 April 1945, in Germany. During this period, the tireless, efficient service of Captain Friedman as Group Liaison Officer to higher headquarters contributed materially to successful completion of operations against the enemy. His disregard for personal safety and fatigue in carrying important orders and plans to and from the group headquarters day and night through hostile territory was an inspiration to all members of the staff. Entered military service from the state of New York.”