17 March, 2012

17 March 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
17 March, 1945         0940

Wilma, darling –

As I remember it – they used to have quite a time of it on this date in Boston. I wonder how they’ll celebrate this year. They ought to send the Irish over here – there’s plenty of celebrating going on all over the place. One of the funny things around this town at the present – is the group of local policemen who wear the typical Nazi uniform but who were not part of the Army proper. Anyway – none fled and when the Americans came they were checked by the Military Government personnel and allowed to carry out their usual municipal duties. Well – an Armored division is in the area, too, and when the Commanding General saw these ‘guys’ – he ordered them to salute the Americans – not only officers, but every American soldier. And it sure is a riot to see these fellows saluting along the main street where the GI’s are driving or walking by without cease. The temptation, particularly on the part of the enlisted men – is to salute back, but that is strictly taboo. We have orders never to return the salute of a German.

Yesterday saw one of my boys getting the Silver Star – presented to him by the General of this Corps. He’s one of my corporals – and a good soldier under pressure – although I had trouble with him in the States and also in England. You may or may not remember – but he’s the one I had to court-martial in England. He was reduced to the Grade of private. But when we hit Normandy he showed he had the stuff, when he ran out into an open field to take care of 2 of our boys who were hit by 2 strafing planes. The planes were returning for another run on the field – and everybody hit the foxholes – but he got out and administered first aid nevertheless. This last episode – he went into a mine field to help one of our men who had been severely wounded. The field was covered with mines – but he went in anyway and got him out. We recommended the Bronze Star – and the Corps boosted the Award itself. Incidentally that’s the 1st such award for the battalion and I was glad a medic got it.

Lieutenant General J. Lawton Collins
Awards the Silver Star to Eckle Ashworth
16 March 1945

Other than that, dear, it was a rather quiet day with no mail again. As usual when we start moving about – the mail gets kicked around but I understand the APO has caught up with us and we may get mail this pm.

Say, darling, I want to make or take exception to one of your statements in a letter of yours – to the effect that I said “less about everything than any other man” – referring to such things as complimentary remarks etc. Hell, girl – I actually thought I was overdoing it! I guess you’re right, though, Sweetheart – I never did say very much – although I thought a lot. I never was the flattering type and always felt that rather than have you think I was just trying to say the right thing – I’d keep quiet. And I was making you like me without telling you all I thought. That – at that stage – was enough. I didn’t know we’d become engaged and grow to love each other so. And I do remember your hair, sweetheart – and it was lovely – but why single out the hair! All of you was lovely and I’d just love to show you what I mean –

So you’ll come to San Francisco if I arrive there 1st. I hope you don’t have to, darling. The chances are though that it will be back thru N.Y. or Boston. I just don’t know what reactions I’ll experience that day. Most likely I’ll have to call you –sweetheart – to tell you I’m back. Damn it! I’ll bet your line will be busy! Well – I’ll wait – honestly.

I’ll have to go now, dear. I’m treating someone with Penicillin today and it’s time for another injection. Hope all is well at home, darling. Love to the folks – and

My own sincere, deep love to you –


about The Silver Star

According to the Home of Heroes web site:
The Silver Star Medal is the United States' THIRD HIGHEST award exclusively for combat valor, and ranks fifth in the precedence of military awards behind the Medal of Honor, the Crosses (DSC/NC/AFC), the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (awarded by DOD), and the Distinguished Service Medals of the various branches of service. It is the highest award for combat valor that is NOT unique to any specific branch; it has been bestowed by the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines. It may be given by any one of the individual services to not only their own members, but to members of other branches of service, foreign allies, and even to civilians for "gallantry in action" in support of combat missions of the United States military.

The Silver Star was established by President Woodrow Wilson as a "Citation Star" during World War I, and was solely a U.S. Army award, though it was presented by the War Department (U.S. Army) to members of the Navy and to U.S. Marines. (More on that can be found in the introductory pages to WWI awards.) Originally it provided for a 3/16" silver star to be worn on on the ribbon of the service medal for the campaign for service in which the citations were given. Based loosely upon the earlier Certificate of Merit, the Citation Star was available retroactively to those who distinguished themselves by gallantry as far back as the Spanish-American War. (Subsequently it has been awarded for gallantry to Civil War heroes who were similarly cited for gallantry in action.) Prior to 1932 the General Orders announcing awards of the "Citation Star" typically began:

By direction of the President, under the provisions of the act of Congress approved July 19, 1918 (Bul. No. 43, W.D., 1918), the following-named officers and enlisted men are cited for gallantry in action and a silver star may be placed upon the ribbon of the Victory Medals awarded to such officers and enlisted men." (A narrative of the act or acts followed for each man thus cited.)

On February 22, 1932, the date that would have been George Washington's 200th birth day, Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur revived General Washington's "Badge for Military Merit (1782)" as the Purple Heart. That same year he also successfully advocated for conversion of the "Citation Star". When his recommendation was approved by the Secretary of War, the 3/16' silver star was converted from a "ribbon device" to a full-fledged MEDAL.

The Silver Star Medal was designed by Rudolf Freund of Bailey, Banks and Biddle, and consisted of a gilt-bronze five-pointed (point-up in contrast to the point-down design of the Medal of Honor) star bearing a laurel wreath at its center. The ribbon design incorporated the colors of the flag, and closely resembled the medals earliest predecessor, the Certificate of Merit Medal. The reverse of the medal is blank, save for the raised text "For Gallantry in Action", beneath which is usually engraved the name of the recipient.

The gold hue of the gilt-bronze star seems at odd with the award's name, Silver Star. That title derives from the medal's World War I lineage and the 3/6" silver star, once displayed on a victory ribbon, and now prominently displayed in the center of the medal.

The Silver Star Medal remained exclusively an Army decoration until August 7, 1942, nearly a year after World War II began. On that date the Silver Star Medal was expanded by Act of Congress for award by the Navy Department for actions on or after December 7, 1941, (Public Law 702, 77th Congress).

It is estimated that the number of Silver Stars awarded from World War I to present is somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000. While that number seems quite large, when compared to the more than 30 million American men and women who have served in uniform during that time period, it is obvious that the Silver Star is a rare award, bestowed on fewer than 1 in every 250 veterans of military service.
Eckle Ashworth, Silver Star Award recipient, was born on 09/28/1908 and died at the age of 90 on 11/15/1998. He is buried in Lakewood Memorial Park (cemetery), which is located in Hughson, California.

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