WWII vet recognized at Twins game

Published 11:36 am Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ninety-three-year-old World War II veteran Roger Walsh was honored at Target Field recently. Photo Provided.

For 93 year old Roger Walsh, growing up on a farm near Austin, during the Depression may have been hard, but not nearly as hard as the 4 1⁄2 years he spent as a Field Artillery Specialist in the 3rd Infantry Division during World War II.

Roger, born May 19, 1919, enlisted in the United States Army in January 1941 at the age of 21. He had nearly fulfilled his one year commitment when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred on Dec. 7 of that year. His discharge was then delayed and he would not see civilian life again until Aug. 14, 1945, after the fall of Germany.

Roger served on the front lines in North Africa, French Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, Southern France, Austria and Germany. He once had the distinction of acting on security detail for a key wartime conference between President Roosevelt, President Charles de Gaulle and Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Casablanca, Morocco, in 1943. Roger was involved in many key battles including the Invasion of Anzio, Italy in which he spent 120 days on the front lines without relief.

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He achieved the rank of staff sergeant and was awarded many recognitions, including: a Good Conduct Medal; the American Defense Service Medal; the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Service Medal; five Overseas Service Bars; eight Campaign Stars; the Bronze Arrowhead; a Distinguished Unit Citation Badge; the Croix De Guerre, given by France for “distinguished acts of heroism involving combat with the enemy”; and the Bronze Star, given for meritorious service in combat. The Bronze Star citation states “His own acute powers of observation enabled him to locate numerous active enemy batteries and to bring effective neutralizing fire upon them. The lack of panic of he and his crew under shellfire and his indifference to personal hazard evidenced the courage and leadership of this noncommissioned officer.”

When the war finally ended in August 1945, Roger returned to Minnesota and in September married Betty Heimer, the woman who had waited for him those long 4 1⁄2 years. Together they raised seven children, five of whom were with him at Target Field. Roger and Betty will celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary this month.

Roger spent post-war years working as a plumber/pipefitter and farmer until he retired. He continued to farm part-time into his 80’s.

Macular Degeneration has now impaired Roger’s vision; however, he still watches what he can of the Twins on TV, or listens to them on the radio. He rarely misses a game.