On January 13 Mr. and Mrs. W. S. Lytle, who live on their farm southeast of Coldwater, received a small package containing a small star shaped ornament but never thought much about it. A week later when they casually mentioned getting some kind of medal which had been given their son, Wilbur, they were told, "Why lady, do you know that the Sliver Star Award is the third highest decoration it is possible for the United States Government to bestow upon a soldier?" It is exceeded only by the Distinguished Service Cross or the Distinguished Flying Cross and by the Congressional Medal of Honor.
His official citation reads:
"Technical Sergeant Wilbur R. Lytle, 372055156, 313th Infantry, United States Army for gallantry in action against the enemy on 5 August, 1944, in France. Without regard for his own safety and entirely on his own initiative, Technical Sergeant Lytle crawled forward in the face of intense enemy machine gun fire to locate and eliminate a concealed machine gun position which was impeding the advance of his company. He neutralized the position with hand grenades and captured seven of the enemy after killing several. His exemplary courage and devotion to duty reflect highest credit on himself and the armed forces of the United States."
The bravery exhibited by Sgt. Lytle has never been exceeded by anyone from this county and he holds the only Silver Star Medal awarded a Comanche county soldier.
Last Saturday Sgt. Lytle's parents were notified by his wife that a telegram had been received from the War Department stating that he had been seriously wounded in France on January 4. Few Coldwater men have had more service where the fighting has been fiercest.
Graduating from Coldwater High School with the class of 1938, Wilbur was employed by the Independent Oil Co. in this town when he was inducted into the Army June 6, 1942. After his basic training at Camp Pickett, Va., he was sent to Camp Blanding, Fla., for infantry training. After six months of hard training there he went to Tennessee for three months of maneuvers. Then he was sent to the Desert Training Center in California for three more months, this time on the desert, instead of in the swamps.
In November 1943, he was transferred to Camp Phillips, Salina, Kans., the inland Port of Embarkation, and from there was sent in March 1944, to the P. O. E. on the east coast. He arrived in England May 1, 1944.
With the 79th Division, 313th Infantry, he landed on the Normandy beaches on D Day. His division fought in the fierce battle of Cherbourg and he was in the terrific battle of St. Lo where the Yanks broke through the stiff defenses of the Germans and crossed France to the German Hinterland.
Sgt. Lytle has fought under three of our leading Generals. From General Hodges' First Army, the 79th Infantry Division was transformed to General Patton's Third Army, and according to radio newscasts, this division of battle seasoned men was transferred the last of November to the Seventh Army.
In a letter dated October 29 Wlibur wrote home: "We were relieved the other night and pulled back. It was the first time the division had been relieved since we came to France, so we should have a nice week or two before we go back to the front. I haven't missed a day with the outfit yet. I've been hit a couple of times but never bad enough to go to the Aid Station."
In a letter written in July he wrote that he had received the Combat Infantryman's Badge. Whenever you see a soldier wearing this badge, take off your hat to him, for he has been through more than all the civilians in this county put together, is an expert with more than half of the weapons used by a soldier, has slept in the mud and cold, and the lads in these divisions went more than 30 days without having time to have even their shoes off.
Wilbur was made a Platoon Sergeant soon after going overseas and later became a Technical Sergeant. His wife and year old daughter, Kay, are living in Garden City with Mrs. Lytle's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Merrill Ruebendall, for the Duration.
Thanks to Shirley Brier for transcribing and contributing the news articles!
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This page was last updated 06 April 2004.