Langnehs, Bonnie L. (P2, C3, L13)
First Lieutenant Bonnie Louis Langnehs, 23, of Louisville, Jefferson County, was killed in combat during the Normandy Invasion on 9 June 1944 near Amfreville, some five miles east of Sainte-Mère-Église, France while serving leading the 1st rifle platoon of Company C, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. He is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France in Plot B / Row 12 / Grave 27.
Langnehs joined Battery F of the 138th Field Artillery of the Kentucky National Guard in October 1940 as a private in the signal section. In April 1941 he was promoted to Corporal with Battery F.
He was inducted into federal active duty with his unit in January 1941 and sent to Camp Shelby. Langnehs married Geneva (maiden name not know at this time) sometime after October 1940 and before 23 October 1941 when was relieved from active duty and returned to state status and was assigned to the state detachment of the active National Guard of Kentucky after the birth of twin daughters Bonnie Lee and Joyce Ann.
He returned to active duty in late January 1942 and was selected for officer candidate school. He was commissioned a second lieutenant at Ft. Benning in December 1942 and was subsequently assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. He deployed overseas in December 1943.
His awards and decorations include a Purple Heart. In civilian life he had been the floor manager of the Fontaine Ferry roller rink before the war.
The Battle of La Fière Bridgehead June 6-9, 1944, is considered one of the costliest small-unit actions in the history of the U.S. Army, with some 254 were killed and 525 were wounded.
One of the soldiers in Langnehs unit was awarded the Medal of Honor on the same day that that Langnehs perished. No details of Langnehs’ death have been discovered.
Private First Class Charles N. DeGlopper Medal of Honor
U.S. Army, Co. C, 325th Glider Infantry, 82d Airborne Division Merderet River at La Fière, France, 9 June 1944 G.O. No.: 22, 28 February 1946.
He was a member of Company C, 325th Glider Infantry, on 9 June 1944 advancing with the forward platoon to secure a bridgehead across the Merderet River at La Fiere, France. At dawn the platoon had penetrated an outer line of machine guns and riflemen, but in so doing had become cut off from the rest of the company. Vastly superior forces began a decimation of the stricken unit and put in motion a flanking maneuver which would have completely exposed the American platoon in a shallow roadside ditch where it had taken cover. Detecting this danger, Pfc. DeGlopper volunteered to support his comrades by fire from his automatic rifle while they attempted a withdrawal through a break in a hedgerow 40 yards to the rear. Scorning a concentration of enemy automatic weapons and rifle fire, he walked from the ditch onto the road in full view of the Germans, and sprayed the hostile positions with assault fire. He was wounded, but he continued firing. Struck again, he started to fall; and yet his grim determination and valiant fighting spirit could not be broken. Kneeling in the roadway, weakened by his grievous wounds, he leveled his heavy weapon against the enemy and fired burst after burst until killed outright. He was successful in drawing the enemy action away from his fellow soldiers, who continued the fight from a more advantageous position and established the first bridgehead over the Merderet. In the area where he made his intrepid stand his comrades later found the ground strewn with dead Germans and many machine guns and automatic weapons which he had knocked out of action. Pfc. Deg-lopper's gallant sacrifice and unflinching heroism while facing unsurmountable odds were in great measure responsible for a highly important tactical victory in the Normandy Campaign.
From The Battle of La Fiére by Association U. S. Normandie
“In the evening of 8 June 1944, on the orders of Generals Ridgway and Gavin, the men of 1st Battalion 325th GIR, commanded by Colonel Lewis, were selected to retake the western extremity of La Fière causeway, earlier taken by the Germans. In the early hours on 9 June 1944, they left the assembly area at the farm Couture. They were led by 507th PIR 1st Lieutenant John Marr over the railway tracks and the secret ford to what is now known as Timmes’ Orchards. They left the orchard and went South. A Company split off and went to guard the crossroads. B Company stayed on the left of D126 and advanced on Cauquigny. C Company crossed over the D126 road, and continued through a wheat field. Executive Officer Major Teddy Sanford and his Command Group, including messenger Pfc Clinton Riddle and 1st Lieutenant Wayne Pierce, stayed in the middle of the two companies B & C, keeping near the road while following the hedgerow toward Cauquigny. In the darkness, part of C Company ventured too far and crossed through an opening in a hedgerow. They arrived at a sunken tractor path near Hamlet Flaux, and soon realized that they were trapped by superior German forces on three sides.
“It was either make a smart move or die one and all. Pfc. Charles DeGlopper, the gentle giant from the farm, took charge. He saw an escape route for the platoon and ordered his comrades to fall back through it. DeGlopper fired his BAR from the hip on full automatic as he jumped into the middle of the dirt road in view of the Germans. Even when wounded, he continued to fire. Then hit again, he sank to his knees, yet continued to fire. He got off blast after blast until his life was torn from him. His platoon escaped to a better position and made it back to safety in the orchard.
“At the time of the fire fight, Major Teddy Sanford and his Command Post group, along with 1st Lieutenant John Marr, were close enough to hear and to discern the action in and beyond the sunken road. They were very near the German guns stationed where the roads D15 (towards Picauville) and D126 (towards Amfreville) verge. Sandford concluded that C Company was no longer able to offer resistance. The members of Sandford’s CP were caught under fire from a German Tank. Sandford told his messenger Riddle and the few men with him to make a holding force until he and the other officers could retreat back. Riddle stayed until they got a good start. Then he crawled back enough to get under cover. He was pinned down in the wheat field. For a while, he was in danger of being captured. His backpack was filled with bullet holes. He started crawling until he was out of the wheat field. He then caught up with the others. Major Sandford set up the CP in the orchard about 7:30 am.
“At the same time, Pierce lingered in the field, thinking he might salvage some of the men from C Company. He ran across the field to a position where he might have a better look. He crawled to the edge of the hedgerow along the tractor path. It was too dark to see, so he crawled away and found his way back to the orchard.”
The National WWII Museum ( https://www.nationalww2museum.org )and Louisiana Public Broadcasting will premiere a new documentary on the battle - “Seize & Secure: The Battle for La Fière” in the Solomon Victory Theater at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans on June 05, 2019. SEE https://www.nationalww2museum.org/events-programs/events/125011-seize-secure-battle-la-fiere