Segment 1


Blonder was trained as a Forward Observer. He began his military career in 1939. He was required to complete ROTC [Annotator’s Note: Reserve Officers' Training Corps] during his freshman and sophomore years of college. He transferred to Ohio State during his sophomore year. He decided to take Advanced ROTC because the war in Europe had already started; he thought it was only a matter of time before the US would be involved in the war. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Blonder and his friends tried to enlist, but because they were in ROTC the Army told them to finish school and graduate.Blonder graduated in early 1943 and attended OCS [Annotator's note: Officer Candidate School] in Oklahoma. He received a commission as a second lieutenant in June of 1943. He was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina to the replacement depot. During his time at Fort Bragg, he taught basic training to new recruits. He was then sent to Alabama and assigned to the 35th Infantry Division. The division was made up of men from Kansas and Missouri. General Truman, commander of the division, told Blonder that he would not advance because he was from Ohio. He immediately applied for a transfer. He did not receive a transfer until March of 1944.Blonder was sent to Fort Meade, Maryland as a replacement and then deployed overseas. He went over on the USS Emma Ward. They had no idea where they were going, but realized they were headed to Italy when they passed through Gibraltar. When he arrived in Italy, he was sent to a replacement depot in Santa Maria Enfanta. From there he was assigned to the 36th Infantry Division. He joined the 131st Field Artillery Battalion as a Forward Observer. In August of 1944, Blonder landed in southern France. The men thought they were going to face the same problems as D-Day [Annotator’s Note: Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944], but they secured the beach within three days. They marched up the Route of Napoleon to Montclimar, where they engaged German forces from the south of France. This was Blonder's first experience in combat. They defeated the German forces, but some of the German soldiers escaped, they fought them later in the north.The French civilians loved the Allied troops. They would cheer them on when they marched into town, gave them food and flowers, and the women would kiss the soldiers. They moved further north into France and joined with the Third Army to cross the Moselle River on 21 September 1944. Blonder recalls that this was the most difficult part up to that point because the German resistance was strong. They had a French guide who led them across the river on foot. They crossed the river that morning at Saint Nabord.Blonder remembers the 442nd Combat Team joining the 36th Division at that time. The 442nd was given the task of taking the town of Brea, a very tough battle for them. This allowed the 141st to move into the Vosges Mountains. They were told to move into the mountains, head east, and take the bluffs overlooking La Houssiere. Blonder was in a recon force of 270 men. They met a lot of German resistance. When they reached Foret Domaniale de Champ that night they realized they were cut off from battalion headquarters. Blonder had the only radio. There were four officers in the recon force including Blonder. The others were Marty Higgins, Joe Kimball, and Harry Hoopers.They tried to setup good defenses and dug foxholes all night. Their biggest concern was tree bursts from German artillery. The Germans attacked the next morning, but retreated when they saw the amount of machine guns Blonder's men had. The Germans continued to attack every morning, but never tried to overtake them.


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