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Saturday, March 30, 2013


Lt. (later Major) Glenn Adkisson, Sr. [1918-1997] of Nebraska poses next to his camouflaged
tank somewhere in Europe in 1944.  Later, the 26-year-old officer earned a Silver Star
for gallantry in action in Belgium.  He was a member of the 3rd Armor Division.
His daughter, Phyllis Adkisson Shess resides in North Park.

"we few, we happy few, we band of brothers".
--King Henry V of England in a speech before the battle of Agincourt, 1415.

HBO’S BAND OF BROTHERS REVISITED—I didn’t make it through watching HBO’s award-winning HBO mini-series, The Band of Brothers, released in 2001, but not because it was inferior.  Quite the opposite: it was too superbly written, produced and acted that to me I was watching real events unfold.  Part 3 is the most difficult cinema I have ever sat through (thank you, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks once again).

Again, “Band of Brothers “is an effective and inspiring performance by an ensemble cast.  Art imitates life and this mini-series is hard on the soul today as when it was made.   At Costco, we purchased a home video release DVD release (pre-BluRay) contained in a tin case for some background on an upcoming family visit to Europe and Normandy.  The series brought back personal family memories of our dads participation in WWII. (more at the end of this blog).

Our family has two veterans of WWII.  Both dads slugged it through Normandy, one as a private who was blown out of a fox hole (survived) and a then 26-year old tank commander, who went on to win a Silver Star for gallantry in battle (survived).  Our dads were experts in deflecting conversations away from talking about their war experiences.  As kids, we accepted that as dad being dad.

After viewing Band of Brothers, we understand why it was difficult for any soldier to talk about a time when friends, who became brothers, perished. 

Still we wished we had asked more questions.  Now, they’re gone so we trod to Normandy to see for ourselves and try to understand what they went through.

My wife’s father, the tank commander, did speak—somewhat--about is experience in the war, because he was asked so many times how he received his Silver Star.  “Just doing my job,” he’d say in his Nebraska twang.  Even then, it took one of his daughters to get the Army to actually present him the medal.  Lt. Glenn Adkisson, Sr. 3rd Armor division ignored the honor until it was presented to him in person at a ceremony when he was well into his later years.

While, my wife watched the remaining chapters in the mini-series (we could only watch one episode at a time), tears came easily.  She was watching her father in every tank scene.  I saw my dad in every infantry encounter.  I do remember him telling me, “hearing the bullets was a good thing.  It’s the ones you didn’t hear that everyone feared,” said, Pvt. Thomas Shess, Sr. 

My family is going to Normandy as tourists, but now after seeing Band of Brothers, we’re going to join the other thousands upon thousands of Americans who make the trip—to say aloud a profound and simple: Thank you. Thank you so much for your courage in the face of unimaginable terror.  Despite the world’s current flaws, your sacrifice made this a better place for those who came after.

Wikipedia does an excellent job of recapping the TV miniseries.


On March 30, 1945, Lt. Glenn W. Adkisson, a native of Nebraska, who retired to North Park, earned a Silver Star for gallantry in action.  The following are two clips from newspapers adding more details:

From Stars and Stripes, Monday, July 2, 1945:

They Shot Two American Soldiers
So Town of Bredeler Was Smashed

With the 3rd Armored Division—The town of Bredelar, Germany, is not a pretty sight these days.  There are gigantic holes torn in almost every building.  The rubble of war is still piled high, and those civilians who watch American army traffic flow past their wrecked village, have the same dazed expression on their faces that they had on March 30 [1945].

For, on that date, two American soldiers were wounded in Bredelar.  They came in a jeep, and then the shots were fired and the Americans were left lying in a welter of blood.

Capt. Henry M. Mann, of Chicago, was ordered to clean up Bredelar and bring back the two wounded soldiers.

The captain drew up his company on the outskirts of town, and began to move toward the attack.  His light tanks rumbled slowly by the first row of buildings without receiving any challenge.  Then, the enemy accepted the battle and opened up with anti-tank rockets, small arms and machine gun fire.

Immediately, Capt. Mann called for fire from his assault gun tanks, and within seconds the small town of Bredeler was a hell of spouting white phosphorous explosions and the black puffs of high explosive.  The light tanks also began a systematic destruction of all building which were observed to be vantage points for enemy sharpshooters.  A railway station and nearby factory were smashed to kindling.

American tanks and assault guns continued to smash opposing forces.   When an infantry combat team was found necessary, the captain formed one on the spot.  It consisted of Lt. Glenn W. Adkisson of 1645 South 11th Street, Lincoln, Neb.; 1st Sgt. Raymond Minyard of Jasper, TX; Cpl. Milton A. Nordall of Huntington Park, CA; Staff Sgt. John Malmberg of Iron Mountain, VA and Cpl. Edgar Belils of Easton, PA.

The five men, with two tanks, worked through the streets smashing every edifice which house belligerent troops.  The pair of wounded Yanks were found, and sent to an American medical aid station.

Over Bredelar, a pall of smoke marked the destruction.

The dead of Bredelar were buried by the civilian population and the war flowed swiftly on toward the Elbe and final victory.  But Bredelar is a small tangle of ruin because the small garrison decided to fight when all hope of victory was gone.

From a Lincoln, Neb. newspaper after the war:

Lt. Adkisson
Gets Silver Star

Lt. Glenn W. Adkisson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Miller Adkisson, 1645 So. 11th, with the 32nd armored regiment of the First Army, has been awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action.  The occasion for the particular action which brought the award was the shooting of two American soldiers who had entered the town of Brerdelar in a jeep.

When it was learned the soldiers lay helpless in a welter of blood somewhere in the village, Capt. Henry M. Mann, Chicago, was ordered to clean up the whole town and bring back the wounded men.  As the light tanks rumbled into town the enemy opened fire and the Americans answered from the assault gun tanks, so that within a few seconds Bredelar was filed with white phosphorous explosions and black puffs of high explosive.

When an infantry combat team was found necessary, the Captain formed on the spot.  Lieutenant Adkisson was one of five men chosen.  With two tanks they worked thru the streets, smashing every edifice known to house belligerent troops.  The wounded soldiers were found and sent to an American medical aid station.

Lieutenant Adkisson enlisted in the army in February, 1941 and received his commission at Ft. Knox the next year.  He has been overseas almost two years.

Footnote: Major Glenn W. Adkisson (USA-retired) moved to San Diego in the early 1990s, where he and his wife Phyllis T. Adkisson, Ph.D. lived on Villa Terrace Street.  They passed away in 1997 and 2000 respectively.  Both are buried side-by-side at Ft. Rosecrans.

Major Adkisson served in the Korean theater and upon his return to civilian life pursued a career in sales.

Dr. Adkisson was a career nurse and retired as the dean of a nursing school in Northern Arizona.
Among the Adkisson’s children were a school teacher; an medical doctor/graduate of the United State Naval Academy; IRS supervisor, Hospital Nurse and a career prosecutor with the San Diego District Attorney’s office.

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