Charles N. DeGlopper was a glider with the 82nd Airborne Division, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the early days of the invasion of Normandy, shortly after D-Day.
DeGlopper came from Grand Island, NY, and was assigned to C Co. 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.
He was the only soldier from the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment to receive the Medal of Honor. He was also the only soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division to receive the award for actions during the Normandy campaign.
Unlike many of the paratroopers who went through their baptism of fire on D-Day, DeGlopper had had previous combat experience. He had served in North Africa, and Italy before landing with the 82nd in Normandy. He had also been awarded the Bronze Star Medal for valor during the Sicily campaign.
Despite many of the Waco and Horsa gliders crashing into the Normandy countryside, the 325th was able to assemble about 90 percent of the regiment after landing. Their mission was to find a shallow crossing of the Le Merderet River and help attack La Fière Bridge from the opposite side.
On June 9, 1944, C Company was at the head of the column and was progressing under fire in an attempt to establish a bridgehead west of La Fière causeway, three kilometers west of Sainte-Mère-Eglise. At dawn, C Co. was the only one to have broken through the enemy’s defenses, taking heavy fire from small arms and heavy machine guns.
DeGlopper’s section was cut off from the rest of the company as the Germans made a serious counterattack with superior numbers and attempted to encircle the American troops at the height of the village of Cauquigny.
DeGlopper volunteered to provide covering fire for his unit to withdraw as they were attempting to reach a hedge about 40 yards behind him. He began firing his Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) and moved along a ditch to the road, completely exposed to enemy fire.
He was hit by German fire but kept firing keeping the Germans occupied. Hit a second time, he was knocked to the ground. Taking up a kneeling position, Charles DeGlopper continued firing on the Germans until he was killed by enemy fire.
His selfless act allowed his unit to withdraw to a more favorable position from where they would reinitiate their attack and establish a bridgehead across Merderet’s causeway.
In the area where Charles DeGlopper was killed, the members of his unit later found a number of machine guns and the bodies of several German soldiers who were taken down by DeGlopper’s BAR.
PFC Charles N. DeGlopper was posthumously decorated with the Medal of Honor; his father accepted the award. His body was disinterred from Normandy and buried in his hometown of Grand Island, NY.
A street on Ft. Bragg, NC, in the 82nd Airborne Division area, is named for DeGlopper as is an athletic field in the area of the 325th Airborne Infantry Brigade. A VFW Post (9249) is named after DeGlopper in Grand Island.
His hometown of Grand Island recognized DeGlopper’s heroism and unveiled a statue of him on June 6, 2021.
Charles DeGlopper’s Medal of Honor Citation
“The President of the United States, in the name of The Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to:
Private First Class Charles N. DeGlopper
United States Army for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
He was a member of Company C, 325th Glider Infantry, on 9 June 1944 advancing with the forward platoon to secure a bridgehead across the Merderet River at La Fière, France. At dawn, the platoon had penetrated an outer line of machineguns and riflemen, but in so doing had become cut off from the rest of the company. Vastly superior forces began a decimation of the stricken unit and put in motion a flanking maneuver that would have completely exposed the American platoon in a shallow roadside ditch where it had taken cover.
Detecting this danger, Pfc. DeGlopper volunteered to support his comrades by fire from his automatic rifle while they attempted a withdrawal through a break in a hedgerow 40 yards to the rear. Scorning a concentration of enemy automatic weapons and rifle fire, he walked from the ditch onto the road in full view of the Germans and sprayed the hostile positions with assault fire. He was wounded, but he continued firing. Struck again, he started to fall; and yet his grim determination and valiant fighting spirit could not be broken. Kneeling in the roadway, weakened by his grievous wounds, he leveled his heavy weapon against the enemy and fired burst after burst until killed outright.
He was successful in drawing the enemy action away from his fellow soldiers, who continued the fight from a more advantageous position and established the first bridgehead over the Merderet. In the area where he made his intrepid stand his comrades later found the ground strewn with dead Germans and many machineguns and automatic weapons which he had knocked out of action. Pfc. DeGlopper’s gallant sacrifice and unflinching heroism while facing unsurmountable odds were in great measure responsible for a highly important tactical victory in the Normandy Campaign.”
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