Death, heroism at the crossroads

Posted 11/12/19

The Second Engineers Combat Battalion cleared mine fields, built bridges, repaired roads, and sometimes fought as the infantry. After many days on Omaha Beach, the attack continued to the south across France. During that time, Truman Kimbro’s C Company was attached to the 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, as part of Task Force “B” (Bravo). They rolled into Paris at the end of September, bivouacked briefly, and then continued the attack turned to the northeast and Belgium.

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Death, heroism at the crossroads

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(Editor’s note: In honor of National Veterans and Military Families Month, the Meteor is re-running a series of articles (slightly revised) from 2017 about the Medal of Honor and the county’s lone recipient of such. This is the second of three articles.)

The Second Engineers Combat Battalion cleared mine fields, built bridges, repaired roads, and sometimes fought as the infantry. After many days on Omaha Beach, the attack continued to the south across France. During that time, Truman Kimbro’s C Company was attached to the 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, as part of Task Force “B” (Bravo). They rolled into Paris at the end of September, bivouacked briefly, and then continued the attack turned to the northeast and Belgium.

During the furious German assault against Krinkelt, Belgium - before the 38th Infantry was ordered to withdraw - T/4 Kimbro led a squad assigned to set mines at a vital crossroads near Rocherath, Belgium. When first attempting to reach the objective, he found it occupied by an enemy tank and at least 20 infantrymen who laid down withering fire and drove Kimbro and the squad back.

He made two more attempts to lead his men to the crossroads, but all approaches were covered by intense enemy fire. Although warned by our own infantry of the great danger, he left the squad in a protected place. Laden with mines, he crawled alone towards the crossroads. When nearing his objective, he suffered severe wounds but continued to drag himself forward. He laid his mines across the road and tried to crawl away, but his body was riddled with rifle and machine gun fire.

Enemy fire was so intense that it actually rolled his body off the roadway. Though he lost his life, the mines he laid delayed advance of enemy armor and kept the enemy from attacking our withdrawing columns. He died Dec. 19, 1944, at the age of 25.

After his death, Kimbro’s widow said in an interview that the last letter she received from him had been written Dec. 11. In it he told of a boy in his outfit who was getting to come home. He wrote, “I could never be that lucky.”

Kimbro was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on May 24, 1945. He was also recognized with the Purple Heart, which is awarded to members of the military who are wounded or killed in the line of duty.

He was buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery of Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, near Henri-Chapelle, Belgium. His grave can be located in Plot F, Row 6, Grave 28. The cemetery is huge, containing the graves of 7,992 members of the American military who died in World War II.

Kimbro’s Medal of Honor was issued May 24, 1945, while our troops were still fighting. Surely some positive feelings existed due to Germany’s May 7 surrender, but “we” did not drop the atomic bombs in Japan until August that year, and the Japanese officially surrendered Sept. 2.

One Museum newspaper clipping focused upon an interview with the hero’s widow soon after she learned of the Medal of Honor. She voiced surprise that the only medal her husband ever won was our nation’s highest honor. She wondered if Truman wouldn’t have preferred things to have been simpler, and she said he probably would have said that he had only done what every American would have done.

Another yellowed clipping shows three-star General Eugene Reybold placing the MOH hanging from a ribbon around Marjorie Kimbro’s neck. Truman’s bereaved parents also attended the ceremony in Houston, and at least one brother, Private Melvin Glyn Kimbro, from Army training in Camp Wolters in Mineral Wells. Sisters Maudine Kimbro Raley and Idell Kimbro Phillips were there too, the latter surely sorrowful plus worried about her husband, Ercel Phillips, serving in the Army.

Pick up next week’s Meteor to continue the saga of Truman Kimbro.

Madison County Museum, at 201 N. Madison St., Madisonville, TX, opens to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Museum Curator Jane Day Reynolds welcomes your visit. If you’d like to share a story, call the Museum, 936.348.5230. If the answering machine picks up, leave your name, number, and message, and someone will call you back.

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