US Coins

Gold medal sought for World War II hero

Major Thomas D. Howie survived D-Day, June 6, 1944, during the Battle of Normany, only to be killed in action a few weeks later leading his unit into combat.

Images in the public domain.

Major Thomas D. Howie would be posthumously recognized with a congressional gold medal for his bravery during the Battle of Normandy in 1944 if legislation introduced June 7 becomes law.

Howie was the inspiration for actor Tom Hanks’ character Capt. John Miller in the 1998 motion picture Saving Private Ryan. The legislation, H.R. 8653, was introduced in the House by Congressman Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina.

Howie eventually commanded 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division on July 13, 1944, and shortly thereafter was tasked with rescuing the encircled 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment.

On July 17, 1944, Howie was ordered to take his soldiers to engage German troops in the northwestern French village of Saint-Lô. Howie left the battered 2nd Battalion soldiers behind to recuperate while moving only with the 3rd Battalion.

Howie was killed by German mortar fire, a sacrifice for which he was posthumously awarded a Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, French Legion of Honor, French Fourragere, and Combat Infantry Badge. Howie’s men strapped his body to a stretcher, draped him with an American flag, and placed him on the hood of a Jeep so that he could be the first American to enter Saint-Lô. He was placed in the rubble of the St. Croix Cathedral, where fellow soldiers and French civilians paid their respects.

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