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NOTE - After 19 years online, HomeOfHeroes.com may soon close it's doors.

Many of the HERO STORIES, history, citations and other information detailed in this website are, at least for now, available in PRINT or DIGITAL format from AMAZON.COM. The below comprise the nearly 4-dozen  "Home Of Heroes" books currently available.

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Medal of Honor Books

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This series of books contains the citations for ALL Medals of Honor awarded to that branch of service, with brief biographical data and photos of many of the recipients. Some of them also include citations for other awards, analysis of awards, data tables and analysis and more. These are LARGE volumes, each 8 1/2" x 11" and more than 500 pages each. Click on a book to find it on Amazon.com where you can find more details on what is contained in each book, as well as to get a free preview. Each volume is $24.95.

Heroes in the War on Terrorism

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NAVY    -  MARINES   -  AIR FORCE   - ARMY O.E.F.  - ARMY O.I.F.

These books contain the citations for nearly all of the awards of the Silve Star and higher to members of each branch of service in the War on Terrorism. Books include photos of most recipients, some biographical data, analysis of awards by rank, unit, date, and more.

ENCYCLOPEDIA of AMERICAN MILITARY HEROES

With the 5 Medal of Honor volumes above, these compilations comprise a virtual 28-volume ENCYCLOPEDIA of decorated American heroes(15,000 pages)  with award citations, history, tables & analysis, and detailed indexes of ACEs, FLAG OFFICERS, and more. (Click on any book to see it in Amazon.com - $24.95 Each Volume)

United States Army Heroes

Distinguished Service Cross

Distinguished Service Medals
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1873 - 1941 Korea Vietnam 1862 - 1960 RVN - Present

United States Navy Heroes

Navy Cross Silver Star Navy Corpsmen
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1915 - 1941 WWII Korea - Present WWII

United States Marine Corps Heroes

Navy Cross Silver Star
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1915 - WWII Korea - Present 1900 - 1941 WWII 1947 - Korea Vietnam - Present

WINGS OF VALOR
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The Defining Generation
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Visit My
AUTHOR PAGE

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The Brotherhood of Soldiers at War

The TRUE story of TWO Brothers.

Walter and Roland Ehlers

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Manhattan, Kansas (1940)

Growing up in Kansas during the depression wasn't easy, about the only things one could count on was family, friends, and faith.  The Ehlers family didn't have a lot of personal possessions, but they learned to get by, trusting in each other and the faith that held them together.

Young Walt Ehlers decided to join the Army on October 4, 1940.   His older brother Roland decided to join with him, and so it was that both men found themselves training for war in the Pacific when Pearl Harbor was attacked.   Early in 1942 Walter and Roland shipped out with their division but not to the Pacific.  Instead they were assigned to combat in North Africa.  From North Africa to Sicily, through 3 major campaigns over almost 4 years, the two brothers remained together.  Then, during the fighting in Sicily, Roland was wounded and sent back to Africa for treatment.  Walter continued to serve until his unit was sent to England to train for a major offensive.   While preparing for the invasion of Europe, Roland rejoined the unit...and his brother Walter.  It was to be a short-lived reunion.

 

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D-DAY

JUNE 6, 1944

As the men of the 1st Division were training for D-Day, the company commander called Roland and Walter in to meet with him.  He told them that for the first time, they would be separated and placed in different units.  He told the young soldiers there was only a fifty-per cent chance that they would survive the pending invasion, and that Walter would be transferred to Company L as a squad leader. 

Walter went to his new unit and worked hard to prepare his men for the coming invasion.  He and Roland managed to get together one last time in Southampton to talk about their family and wish each other luck.  They both knew they would be participating in the impending landing.  "We'll meet up on the beach," they promised, then went their separate ways to join 170,000 other soldiers as they loaded the ships that would take them across the channel to attack Normandy.

The First Division landed at Omaha beach.  Walter's craft hit a sand bar and the men had to jump into water over their head to make their way to the beach.   A few hundred yards further down the beach Roland's Company was also landing.   There was no time to worry for each other, each brother having responsibilities of their own to attend.  Walter began to lead his squad off the beach.  They were taking fire from enemy bunkers on the bluffs overlooking the beach, and Walter knew the only chance of survival was to keep his men together and attack the high ground.  He led them by his example.  After a 6-hour battle to reach the hills, they finally broke through the German defenses.  Walt's courage and leadership that day saved his platoon and earned him the Bronze Star Medal.  Then, as night fell, he went looking for Roland.

In the darkness and devastation of D-Day at Omaha, it was difficult to find anyone, but at last Walter found Roland's Platoon Sergeant.  He asked about Roland, and was told only that his brother was "Missing In Action".    Worried, Staff Sergeant Walter Ehlers returned to his squad and the fighting that still lay ahead.

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In the days that followed, the fighting moved inland as the brave soldiers who had landed at Normandy worked to dislodge the enemy from their fortifications among the hedgerows,  dense thickets and rows of vegetation that separated farms across the country side.  The fighting was bitter, dangerous, and very costly.

By June 9th Walt Ehlers' squad was far ahead of most other Allied troops, and Sgt. Ehlers himself was at the head of his men.  In an early morning attack his company was pinned down in an open field by fire from machine-gun nests and two mortar pits.  Without orders Sgt. Ehlers jumped to his feet and headed towards the first machine-gun nest.  Suddenly a patrol of 4 enemy confronted him.  Quickly the Sergeant killed all four, then proceeded to advance on and single-handedly destroy the machine-gun nest and its crew of eight enemy.   He called to his squad to move up and join him as he turned his attention towards the mortar pits that threatened to destroy the company.  Before continuing the advance he gave an unusual order...."Fix bayonets".  Later he recounted, "It had a psychological effect on the Germans.  They looked horrified and started running."  Ehlers knocked out that position, then his men started taking fire from yet another machine-gun nest.  Again, at a point ahead of everyone else, Sergeant Ehlers advanced on and single-handledly knocked out that enemy position.

By the following day Sergeant Ehlers and his platoon were so far ahead of everyone else they were literally surrounded by Germans.  The platoon was ordered to withdraw, and Sergeant Ehlers' squad assumed the responsibility of covering the withdrawal of the rest of the unit.  Sergeant Ehlers and his BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) man stood back to back to draw enemy fire upon themselves and rain effective fire against the enemy to cover the safe withdrawal of the platoon.  First the BAR man was shot and wounded, then a rifle round struck Sergeant Ehlers in the back.  Ehlers turned quickly and saw the sniper that had wounded him and was able to kill the enemy soldier.  Then, despite his own wound, he carried the stricken BAR man from the battlefield before returning to recover the badly needed BAR.

 

ehlers_mother.jpg (8465 bytes)The medics began treating Sergeant Ehlers' wound and quickly learned that the bullet had hit him in the side, glanced off a rib, and exited from his pack.  Inside that pack was a picture of Walter and Roland Ehlers' mother, and the bullet had torn away the edged of the folder it was in.

 

Sergeant Ehlers refused to be evacuated.  His wounds treated and bandaged, he returned to his squad.   He later said he didn't want any of his men to be hurt or killed, and he felt his obligation was to be there to lead and protect them.

By July, after a month of fighting, Sergeant Ehler's squad was holed up in an abandoned farm house when he received an unusual visitor.  It was the company commander from his brother Roland's company.  He came bearing sad news.  Roland had died at Omaha beach.  As his landing craft approached a mortar round had hit the ramp instantly killing the older brother.   Walter was devastated.  He saluted the officer and said, "Okay", then found a place of privacy to weep unashamed.

Over the coming weeks Sergeant Ehlers continued to do his job, leading his men.  He was wounded three more times and sent to the hospital twice.  Then he learned he was to receive the Medal of Honor.   It was presented in the field in Paris on December 14, 1944 by Lieutenant General John C. H. Lee.  Then the young hero was flown home for celebrations in Manhattan, Kansas and Christmas with his family.  But it bothered him to think of his men spending Christmas in the field, facing the dangers of a desperate enemy.  He requested and received permission to return, finishing the war with the men of his battalion.  Said Mr. Ehlers at a patriotic event in Pueblo, Colorado in 1995:

"Liberty is worth fighting for, and sometimes worth dying for."

 

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"I'm no Rambo.  Because of my training, it was just automatic not to run but to attack."

"Roland and I were good buddies, he was always kind of looking out for me.  He was MY hero."

Walter D. Ehlers

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1)Walt Ehlers returns home after receiving the Medal of Honor.     2) In 1995 Mr. Ehlers joins "Pueblo Chieftain" Promotions Manager Paulette Stuart in honoring rescue workers from the Oklahoma City bombing disaster.  3&4)   Walt visiting his brother's grave site in Kansas.  5)   Roland's marker with fresh flowers left by his brother, Walter.

 

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Read Mr. Ehler's
Medal of Honor Citation

Go Here For a Personal Account
By Walt Ehlers

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