Long-time Midland resident Harry N. Whisler, 94, recently received the medal of Knight in the French Order of the Legion of Honor during Veterans Day activities in Austin, Texas, in recognition of his service in the liberation of France during World War II.
Whisler was born in International Falls, Minnesota, the eldest of five children, and grew up in Midland, where at age 20 he married his sweetheart Dorothy Grice just five months before enlisting in the Army in November 1942. After extensive training, he landed in Cherbourg, Normandy, France in September 1944 with General Patton’s 10th Armored “Tiger” Division and served to the end of the war as a medic with a jeep and orders to “follow the lead tank.”
His first introduction to combat artillary shelling was at Resonville/Gravelotte, France, facing Ft. Driant. Continuing the battle for Metz they initiated the liberation of the Lorraine region where his battalion crossed the Moselle River at Malling and rapidly attacked toward Friestroff. The division then began its first attempt to break through the Orscholz Switch Line at Tettingen.
During the Battle of the Bulge, he served defending the north border of Luxembourg in and around the town of Berdorf. It wasn’t until 70 years later that he learned that very town was the home of his second and third great-grandparents. After the Bulge, they cleared the Saar/Moselle triangle, fought the fierce battle of Ayl/Okfen/Irsch and captured Trier where he earned the Bronze Star and had a personal encounter with General Patton.
Whisler was one of the first arrivals at the Landsburg Concentration camp and continued on through Germany to Ulm, Oberammergau and finally
Garmish-Partenkirchen and Mittenwald. He departed France in October 1945 and returned home honorably discharged from active duty.