Biography[edit source | editbeta]
Born on May 7, 1921, in Junction City, Kansas, Ehlers joined the Army from the city of Manhattan in October 1940. He and his older brother Roland served in the same unit and participated in the fighting in North Africa and Sicily.
By D-Day on June 6, 1944, Ehlers was a staff sergeant and squad leader in the 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. His squad, part of the invasion's second wave, waited off shore in a Landing Craft, Infantry, while the first group of soldiers landed. When the first wave became pinned down on the beach, his unit was transferred to a Higgins boat and sent forward early to assist. They fought their way off the beach and by June 9 were near the town of Goville, 8 miles (13 km) inland. On that day, he led his unit's attack against German forces and single-handedly defeated several enemy machinegun nests. The next day, his platoon came under heavy fire and he covered their withdrawal, carried a wounded rifleman to safety, and continued to lead despite his own wounds. For his actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor six months later, on December 19, 1944.
On July 14, more than a month after D-Day, Ehlers learned that his brother Roland had died at Omaha Beach when his landing craft was struck by a mortar shell.
He appeared in the 1955 film The Long Gray Line, starring Tyrone Power.
Medal of Honor citation[edit source | editbeta]
Staff Sergeant Ehlers' official Medal of Honor citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 9–10 June 1944, near Goville, France. S/Sgt. Ehlers, always acting as the spearhead of the attack, repeatedly led his men against heavily defended enemy strong points exposing himself to deadly hostile fire whenever the situation required heroic and courageous leadership. Without waiting for an order, S/Sgt. Ehlers, far ahead of his men, led his squad against a strongly...