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63 Years Later, Medal-Winner Tells His Story
The Greeneville Sun ^ | 11/03/07 | Bill Jones

Posted on 11/03/2007 6:36:59 PM PDT by girlangler

Saturday, November 3, 2007

63 Years Later, Medal-Winner Tells His Story

Sun Photo by Bill Jones

Delbert Fellers, 85, poses with the medals he won for his World War II military service. Among the medals is the Silver Star medal he received for silencing a Japanese machine gun that was pouring deadly fire on his unit on Angaur Island in September 1944.

By: By BILL JONES/Staff Writer Source: The Greeneville Sun 11-03-2007

Sixty-three years ago, Delbert L. Fellers, of Greene County, was a reluctant warrior who had been drafted into the U.S. Army for service in World War II.

“I sure didn’t volunteer,” said Fellers, who, at 85, is one of Greene County’s few surviving Silver Star medal-winners from WWII.

But like World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York before him, Fellers was able to perform an extraordinary feat when he saw his fellow soldiers being killed and wounded by machine gun fire in September 1944.

A photo of his World War II unit still dominates the living room of his Curtis Street home.

Fellers won the Silver Star for his heroic actions when his platoon came under fire from a Japanese machine gun on tiny Angaur Island in the Pacific Ocean’s Palau chain on Sept. 28, 1944.

The citation for the Silver Star, one of the nation’s highest military medals, notes that Fellers received the medal for “gallantry in action” against the Japanese on that day.

U.S. Army regulations say “the Silver Star is awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army, is cited for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force, or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The required gallantry, while of a lesser degree than that required for the Distinguished Service Cross, must nevertheless have been performed with marked distinction.”

Six decades later, Fellers still gets emotional about the events for which he was awarded the medal. “That was the day we got the machine gun,” Fellers said, with his voice breaking, during an interview on Thursday.

He recalled that his unit came under fire from a Japanese machine gun that was in place atop a hill and was firing down on his fellow soldiers.

A newspaper article from 1944 notes that Fellers received the medal from Maj. Gen. Paul J. Mueller, commander of the U.S. Army’s 81st “Wildcat” Division.

Fellers, according to his military records, was serving in F Company of the 81st Division’s 322nd Infantry Regiment in September 1944.

The citation that accompanied the Silver Star medal he received notes that on Sept. 28, 1944, Fellers was assistant squad leader in a unit that was advancing on enemy positions “when a Japanese machine gun opened fire from a heavily-fortified position.”

Among the casualties of the machine gun fire, according to the article, was Sgt. Fellers’ platoon leader.

“With total disregard for his personal safety, Sgt. Fellers, with three companions, cut across open terrain in the face of enemy grenade and rifle fire and succeeded in killing the Japanese gun crew,” the citation said.

Asked what had motivated him to lead an attack on the machine gun, Fellers said, “It was either them or us.”

He noted that he and his three companions were able, by crawling, to get near enough to the machine gun to shoot dead its crew and then disable the machine gun so that it could not be used if recaptured by the Japanese.

A newspaper article about Fellers’ being awarded the medal later noted that the 81st Division had invaded Angaur Island on Sept. 17, 1944.

Fellers recalled this week that, because he was a good marksman, he had been assigned to be one of his unit’s snipers and had been issued a bolt-action 1903 Springfield rifle equipped with a telescopic sight.

“I was good with a rifle,” he said. “I had learned to shoot with a little .22 rifle as a kid at an old tobacco barn. I could shoot a hole in a board and put the next shot in the same hole.”

But when he left California for an unknown destination in the Pacific Ocean in 1944, Fellers recalled, he didn’t think he would ever see home again. “There were just too many odds against it (returning home),” he recalled.

Stepping off a landing craft into chin-deep water off Angaur Island on Sept. 17, 1944, did little to improve his outlook for the future, Fellers recalled on Thursday.

“There were shells falling all around,” he remembered. “You had to get off the beach as fast as you could.”

The rest of the island, and its Japanese defenders, proved just as dangerous, Fellers said.

After surviving the attack on the machine gun, Fellers suffered a shrapnel wound to his back several days later when a round from a Japanese “knee mortar” exploded near him.

He noted that the Japanese soldiers were experts with a small, hand-held mortar that they braced against their knees to lob high-explosive shells in a high arc onto American troops.

After he was wounded, Fellers recalled, medics removed the metal shrapnel from his back and sent him right back to duty.

Once the fighting on Angaur Island was over, Fellers said, his unit was loaded back aboard a U.S. Navy ship and sent about 400 miles to “another island we had to take.”

Fellers also recalled how he learned he was being sent home at the war’s end.

“A fellow came to me and told me the colonel wanted to see me,” he recalled. “I thought, ‘What have I done now?’ but I went to see him.

“He gave me a Japanese flag and my papers to go home.

“When the ship left the next morning, there was five or six inches of snow on the deck.” “I got home just before Christmas 1945,” he said, noting that his homecoming marked the first time he ever saw his daughter, Barbara Fellers Taylor, who had been born while he was in the Army.

He said that his wife, the late Margaret Fellers, had been “kept busy writing letters” during the war. “She had three brothers and me all in the service at the same time.”

Margaret, his wife, died several years ago. Since then, Fellers, who is now ill, has lived alone at his Curtis Street home.

He noted that his son, David, later spent 30 years in the U.S. Army Reserve, including service in the Middle East in the early 1990s in “Operation Desert Storm.”


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous; Unclassified
KEYWORDS: earnednotwon; fisherman; greatestgeneration; heros; veterans; wwii
You all may remember my Vanity post about this man a while back. He's my fishing buddy, the one with cancer and unable to fish anymore.

The Vanity post about him is at:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1841255/posts

His local newspaper finally got around to publishing a story about my buddy, and I thought you'd all enjoy it.

1 posted on 11/03/2007 6:37:01 PM PDT by girlangler
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To: Cindy; Peace4EarthNow; VR-21; LeoWindhorse; pillut48; fieldmarshaldj; fredhead; real saxophonist; ..

Ping


2 posted on 11/03/2007 6:46:02 PM PDT by girlangler (Fish Fear Me)
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To: girlangler

Bump for a true American hero.


3 posted on 11/03/2007 6:49:14 PM PDT by Constitution Day
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To: girlangler

Great story. Thanks. I see the “knee mortar” legend lives on.


4 posted on 11/03/2007 6:51:08 PM PDT by ozzymandus
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; alfa6

ping


5 posted on 11/03/2007 6:53:17 PM PDT by Professional Engineer (when you're the geek nobody likes you)
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To: girlangler

Bump for Del Fellers, a real hero and thanks for the ping.


6 posted on 11/03/2007 7:12:44 PM PDT by jazusamo (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: girlangler

Tell your fishing buddy ‘thank you’ from all of us.


7 posted on 11/03/2007 7:16:56 PM PDT by The KG9 Kid
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To: girlangler

Tell Mr. Fellers thank you for helping to secure the life I’ve already enjoyed.

And, thank you, for the post...without which many of us would never have known of this great man.


8 posted on 11/03/2007 7:24:15 PM PDT by papasmurf (sudo apt - get install FRed Thompson)
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To: girlangler

Give him a hug for me.


9 posted on 11/03/2007 7:34:11 PM PDT by lonestar
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To: girlangler

Nice story. *BUMP*


10 posted on 11/03/2007 7:37:04 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (~~~Jihad Fever -- Catch It !~~~ (Backup tag: "Live Fred or Die"))
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To: girlangler
Tell your buddy, "Thanks", from our family to he and his.

God bless 'em all.

11 posted on 11/03/2007 7:38:24 PM PDT by Thumper1960 (Unleash the Dogs of War as a Minority, or perish as a party.)
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To: girlangler

Del Fellers, a true American hero. Please give him my regards and a big hearty “thank you” for his service.

Because of his deeds and sacrifices, I have enjoyed a prosperous life in the post war era.

Please excuse this segue, but Mr. Fellers is a true Silver Star hero, not like that no good SOB traitorous Senator from Massachusetts.


12 posted on 11/03/2007 7:42:32 PM PDT by exit82 (I believe Juanita--Hillary enabled Juanita's rapist.)
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To: girlangler

thank your friend for his service to our country.


13 posted on 11/03/2007 7:56:51 PM PDT by Freee-dame
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To: girlangler
Stepping off a landing craft into chin-deep water off Angaur Island on Sept. 17, 1944, did little to improve his outlook for the future, Fellers recalled on Thursday.

I bet it didn't. Prayers for your friend, a true hero.

14 posted on 11/03/2007 8:28:12 PM PDT by packrat35 (Politicians would be less worthless if they were edible, or useable for packing wheel bearings.)
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To: girlangler

Canteen PING.


15 posted on 11/03/2007 8:37:45 PM PDT by StarCMC (http://cannoneerno4.wordpress.com/2007/08/11/school-of-the-counterpropagandist/)
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To: acad1228; AliVeritas; aomagrat; beachn4fun; BIGLOOK; blackie; bluesagewoman; CH3CN; ...

Pinging a few friends!


16 posted on 11/03/2007 8:38:04 PM PDT by StarCMC (http://cannoneerno4.wordpress.com/2007/08/11/school-of-the-counterpropagandist/)
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To: StarCMC

Dang Blurry Screen! Got any Screen Wipes?


17 posted on 11/03/2007 8:41:32 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: SandRat

No kidding — he sounds like a real class act! Where would our country be without him and guys like him?


18 posted on 11/03/2007 8:42:22 PM PDT by StarCMC (http://cannoneerno4.wordpress.com/2007/08/11/school-of-the-counterpropagandist/)
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To: 2LT Radix jr; 80 Square Miles; acad1228; AirForceMom; Alas Babylon!; AliVeritas; Anti-MSM; ...

Canteen Ping — messed it up the first time.


19 posted on 11/03/2007 8:42:47 PM PDT by StarCMC (http://cannoneerno4.wordpress.com/2007/08/11/school-of-the-counterpropagandist/)
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To: StarCMC

Weat of the Rockies speaking Japanese and the rest German perhaps.


20 posted on 11/03/2007 8:45:49 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: SandRat

Probably the truth. Thank God those guys went, even when they didn’t think they’d come home. We are so spoiled today.


21 posted on 11/03/2007 8:48:24 PM PDT by StarCMC (http://cannoneerno4.wordpress.com/2007/08/11/school-of-the-counterpropagandist/)
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To: StarCMC

Well,... some of us anyway....


22 posted on 11/03/2007 8:51:58 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: StarCMC

I’ll be sending you an E-mail regarding this subject soon.

Thanks for the ping.


23 posted on 11/03/2007 9:06:08 PM PDT by Radix (When I became a man, I put away childish things)
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To: ozzymandus
Thanks. I see the “knee mortar” legend lives on.

They don't actually fire those off their knees, do they?

24 posted on 11/03/2007 10:42:01 PM PDT by GOP_Party_Animal
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To: girlangler; jazusamo; smoothsailing; RedRover

25 posted on 11/04/2007 1:20:08 AM PST by freema (Proud Marine Niece, Daughter, Wife, Friend, Sister, Aunt, Cousin, Mother, and FRiend)
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To: girlangler
He noted that the Japanese soldiers were experts with a small, hand-held mortar that they braced against their knees to lob high-explosive shells in a high arc onto American troops.

Manchester writes of them in 'Goodbye Darkness', his memories of WW2 in the Pacific. At first, our troops thought they were “ball-mortars” when they saw the Japs employ them... mainly due to the fanaticism of the enemy.

26 posted on 11/04/2007 2:44:10 AM PST by johnny7 ("But that one on the far left... he had crazy eyes")
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To: StarCMC

BTTT


27 posted on 11/04/2007 2:55:43 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: StarCMC

BTTT


28 posted on 11/04/2007 2:55:57 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: freema; girlangler

Bump for the Proud Ol Sarg.


29 posted on 11/04/2007 3:33:05 AM PST by Tainan (Talk is cheap. Silence is golden. All I got is brass...lotsa brass.)
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To: Constitution Day

to read later


30 posted on 11/04/2007 4:07:18 AM PST by Guenevere (Duncan Hunter...President '08)
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To: girlangler

Great story, wonderful hero! Thanks! (Makes me all the angrier that Kerry weasled his medals and got away with it.) Well, not quite...God was watching and someday Kerry will have some explaining to do.


31 posted on 11/04/2007 4:32:07 AM PST by hershey
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To: Professional Engineer; girlangler

Great story. God Bless him!


32 posted on 11/04/2007 5:18:28 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul. WWPD (what would Patton do))
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To: girlangler; freema; bigheadfred
Thanks for sharing more of Delbert Fellers' story. Yes, I remember the tribute you wrote about him for Memorial Day. It was beautiful. Here's the link in case anybody would like to reread girlangler's post Vanity, My Memorial Day Tribute to a Veteran.

I appreciate what Delbert did, along with so many others, to promote liberty and freedom around the world.
33 posted on 11/04/2007 5:57:07 AM PST by Girlene
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To: girlangler
...poses with the medals he won for his World War II military service

Won??? It's not a contest. They were EARNED.

34 posted on 11/04/2007 6:42:38 AM PST by Living Free in NH
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To: Girlene

Outstanding story.

Bought the book Lone Survivor last night.

How anyone could support a blackheart (no pun intended) like Obama defies my comprehension.


35 posted on 11/04/2007 7:41:40 AM PST by bigheadfred (Happy Hunting)
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To: girlangler

bump


36 posted on 11/04/2007 7:43:47 AM PST by VOA
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To: girlangler

Bump


37 posted on 11/04/2007 9:14:57 AM PST by real saxophonist (The fact that you play tuba doesn't make you any less lethal. -USMC bandsman in Iraq)
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To: GOP_Party_Animal

Nope. They are a small mortar which fired hand grenades with a small propellant charge attached to the bottom. They have a curved baseplate which is meant to be placed on the ground, but looks like it would fit against the curve of the thigh of a kneenimg man. Many US soldiers assumed this was the correct firing position, supposedly resulting in many broken legs when they tried captured mortars. I’ve seen one in a museum, and they are pretty simple.


38 posted on 11/04/2007 10:54:05 AM PST by ozzymandus
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To: girlangler

*Salute!*


39 posted on 11/04/2007 11:18:24 AM PST by Gritty (Those who hammer their guns into plowshares will plow for those who do not-Thomas Jefferson)
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To: girlangler

Our Hero/Vets of WW II are passing from the scene. We need to hear their stories so that we can pay proper respects to them for what they and their comrades, who didn’t make it to today, have given us. Even those who did not face combat have stories that must be heard, after all had they not done their jobs the combat veterans would not have been able to do what they did.


40 posted on 11/04/2007 11:36:50 AM PST by fella (The proper application of the truth far more important than the knowledge of it's existance."Ike")
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To: All

Thank you all for your kind words about Delbert. He truly is a wonderful man, has never sought any recognition for his sacrifice.

I’m printing out your comments to give to him on my next visit.

I can’t tell you how lucky I am to have spent lots of hours fishing with him. He used to not talk much about his experiences, but little by little he told me his story while we’d be fishing. He has cancer, and is growing weaker every day. The past year or so he has talked more about his experiences. I have a copy of the citation he received with his Silver Star. He also has a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

He told me they were on one of the islands and saw some “headhunters.” To hear and see these things was really something for a little country boy who’d never been more than 40 miles from his hometown.


41 posted on 11/04/2007 3:04:02 PM PST by girlangler (Fish Fear Me)
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To: girlangler

Just read your great vanity post

My prayers for this grand old veteran who was also yr fishing buddy


42 posted on 11/04/2007 3:12:59 PM PST by dennisw (Islam - "a transnational association of dangerous lunatics")
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To: GOP_Party_Animal

“Thanks. I see the “knee mortar” legend lives on.

They don’t actually fire those off their knees, do they?”

Not more than once. Just a mistaken nickname. It gets you a broken thigh. The base plate is meant to be placed on the ground.


43 posted on 11/04/2007 3:14:09 PM PST by Polynikes (Hey. I got a question. How are you planning to get back down that hill?)
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To: girlangler
Ping for Delbert and his "sweetest little mountain girl".

Thanks for letting us get to know of him.

44 posted on 11/06/2007 8:04:58 PM PST by an amused spectator (AGW: If you drag a hundred dollar bill through a research lab, you never know what you'll find)
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To: an amused spectator; dennisw

Thanks, both of you.

I talked to Delbert today, he was feeling better than he has in a while, and has received lots of cards from folks after the story ran in the newspaper.


45 posted on 11/11/2007 8:59:03 AM PST by girlangler (Fish Fear Me)
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To: All

An update for all of you who commented on WWII hero Delbert Fellers.

He died last night (Memorial Day) at 9.p.m., will be buried with full military honors Thursday.


46 posted on 05/27/2008 10:12:46 AM PDT by girlangler (Fish Fear Me)
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To: girlangler

Prayers for Mr. Fellers and you.


47 posted on 05/27/2008 10:27:15 AM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: <1/1,000,000th%

Thank you so much. Delbert is in Heaven right now with his “sweetest little mountain girl,” my Mom’s cousin Margaret.

Delbert was an avid bass angler, so I am sure God will let him catch a few trophy bass there.


48 posted on 05/27/2008 6:45:00 PM PDT by girlangler (Fish Fear Me)
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