Sgt. Willie Spears, Bronze Star winner, with his dad and brothers at Red River Arsenal in 1945.
Willie went ashore in the invasion at Cherbourg, France and fought across France into Germany. He was one of only three men in his company to come home.
Clifton, Willie, Papa and James
The officer with authority to recommend him for a medal gave him a signed blank form and told him he could fill it out with any details he chose. He wrote, “Covered retreat with a machine gun.”
Only once did my dad hear him talk of the war. On a squirrel hunting trip, deep in the woods, sitting on a log with distance shotgun blasts echoing in the trees, he told of killing so many men that day in France that he had to keep climbing up on the pile of bodies that were accumulating in front of him to keep firing. He cried that day in the woods.
His division went into action in September 1944 in the Lorient and St Nazaire sectors, with the object of containing some 60,000 Germans in those submarine ports, well protected from aerial bombardment by flak guns and concrete emplacements. The division had to cover 450 air line miles of front and was faced constantly with the threat of an attempt by the Nazis to join the two pockets. However, when the 94th finished 111 days of combat in Brittany, the two pockets had been thoroughly pinned up. Blain and several other French towns had been liberated and 29 battalions of French Infantry had been trained and equipped to help fight in the area. In addition, numerous Germans had been killed and three exchanges of prisoners of war effected.
In January 1945 the division moved to a section southeast of the city of Luxembourg where the Germans had thrown up what became known as the Siegfried Switch Line to protect the bulge of the German border. And to act as a buffer to the main Siegfried Line east of the Saar River. Taking up positions along the Moselle River, the division, now part of the Third Army, began to probe for possible routes for an all-out offensive. On 14 January the 94th captured Tettington and Butzdorf and in the next three days made the first crack in the Switch Line by grabbing Nennig, Wies and Berg.
In February the division began the job of clearing out the Campholz Woods. On 7 February after the woods had been gained the 94th took Sinz in a bloody action. It went on to strike east through Adenhelz Woods, Munzingen and Keblingen fell to the Infantry, as well as Oberleuken and Faha. The division now swept aside all opposition as it headed for the Saar. By the latter part of February the 94th helped clear the west bank of the Saar and on 22 February threw up bridgeheads across that river preparatory to smashing the defenses of the Siegfried Line on the opposite side of the river.
By early March the 94th had consolidated its gains across the Saar and on 16 March was given the job of spearheading the Third and Seventh Armies drive to the Rhine. Eight days later the division was at the river. It had taken the prize industrial city of Ludwigshaven and had run its total of prisoners up to 17,000. Upon conclusion of its Rhine offensive the division was sent to XXII Corps, 15th Army to Krefeld area and operated on the southern tip of the Ruhr pocket.