James Burt Veterans Memorial Park
"James Burt Veterans Memorial ParkIn memory of those from Leewho died during war for their countryThis memorial is dedicated toall veterans in all wars"
"The President of the United States of America,
authorized by Act of Congress on March 13, 1863, has
awarded in the name of the Congress
MEDAL OF HONOR to:
James M. Burt
United States Army
World War II Victory MedalParticipated in Three D-Day Invasions
On 13 October 1944, Captain James M. Burt, United States Army, was in command of Company B, 66th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division, on the western outskirts of Wurselen, Germany. His organization participated in a coordinated infantry-tank attack destined to isolate the large German garrison which was tenaciously defending the city of Aachen.
In the first day's action, when infantrymen ran into murderous small-arms and mortar fire, Capt. Burt dismounted from his tank about 200 yards to the rear and moved forward on foot beyond the infantry positions, where, as the enemy concentrated a tremendous volume of fire upon him, he calmly motioned his tanks into good firing positions. As the attack gained momentum, he climbed aboard his tank and directed the action from the rear deck, exposed to hostile volleys which finally wounded him painfully in the face and neck. He maintained his dangerous post despite pointblank self-propelled gunfire until friendly artillery knocked out these enemy weapons, and then proceeded to the advanced infantry scouts' positions to deploy his tanks for the defense of the gains which had been made.
The next day, when the enemy counterattacked, he left cover and went 75 yards through heavy fire to assist the infantry battalion commander who was seriously wounded. For the next 8 days, through rainy, miserable weather and under constant, heavy shelling, Capt. Burt held the combined forces together, dominating and controlling the critical situation through the sheer force of his heroic example. On October 15, to direct artillery fire, he took his tank 300 yards into the enemy lines, where he dismounted and remained for one hour giving accurate data to friendly gunners. Twice more that day he went into enemy territory under deadly fire on reconnaissance. In succeeding days he never faltered in his determination to defeat the strong German forces opposing him. Twice the tank in which he was riding was knocked out by enemy action, and each time he climbed aboard another vehicle and continued the fight. He took great risks to rescue wounded comrades and inflicted prodigious destruction on enemy personnel and materiel despite suffering from the wounds he received in the battle's opening phase.
Capt. Burt's intrepidity and disregard of personal safety were so complete that his own men and the infantry who attached themselves to him were inspired to overcome the wretched and extremely hazardous conditions which accompanied one of the most bitter local actions of the war. The victory achieved closed the Aachen gap.
October 12, 1945
The White House
(signed) Harry S Truman"
This unplanned stop simply popped up as I passed through this small town. The park sits at the north edge of the business district and appears to be safe enough that the residents can catch a nap while sitting on a bench. An older fella was engaged in that pursuit as I pulled up, and he never stirred in the few minutes that I was stomping around the lawn.
Cpt James Burt, US Army, was a native of Lee, but after service he left the area for a career in industry and then as a university professor. He died in 2006 and is buried in Pennsylvania. The honor roll of the World War II fallen lists a Thomas Burt, but I was unable to located any information that would confirm if he was related to Cpt James Burt.
About 50 yards to the south and across the street from this park stood the family home of Pvt Charles T. Noonan, US Army. The house is gone now, but when he lived there everybody in town knew that "Shift" Noonan was around. He was a good mechanic and especially liked motorcycles. When it was time to put on the uniform he asked the Army if he could be assigned to a motorcycle corps and they obliged. How happy could a kid be than to serve his country and be doing what you loved best? He was killed in action somewhere near Ogon, France, on October 14, 1918, just a few days short of his 19th birthday.
"Shift" was returned for burial in September of 1921. His coffin was carried by horse and wagon past the family home to St Mary's Cemetery, a hundred veterans and active duty soldiers in uniform escorting the procession. The head of the American Legion post, John Bossidy, and the Draft Board head, Judge Bart Bossidy were at the cemetery to greet the first of the Lee's youngsters. Both of the Bossidy men knew the heartache, because upon the honor roll of the fallen one of their own is listed, James R. Bossidy. Small town funerals are just as much about recognizing the bonds of kinship as they are a time to say goodbye.
Lt, Col Peter McGoldrick, US Army, was killed in Egypt on November 6, 1942. He was commanding officer of the 79th Fighter Group. The West Point graduate had always wanted to fly and every one of his friends and classmates in Lee knew it. His path to the cockpit was sidetracked for a while as he served with the Army infantry corps, but that may have made him a better officer once he earned his wings. During a strafing run against a German airfield his P-40 Warhawk was hit by flak, and McGoldrick was forced to pick a spot for a forced landing. Unfortunately, his choice of fields didn't work out well - it was a minefield and the result was what you could imagine. McGoldrick, West Point class of '36, was just 30 years old when he died.
Cpl William Abderhalden, US Army, was 23 when he was killed in Korea on August 30, 1951. Today William R. Abderhalden III represents the family name as he serves with the Marine Corps. Young Abderhalden isn't the only son or daughter of Lee serving today. The youth of the town serve in all of the five armed services and are working in locations around the world. I get the sense that service is admired here in Lee. I would gladly place a bet that the old guy asleep on the bench is a veteran - and that he probably knew some of those honored on these plaques.