Markleton man fought throughout Europe during WWII
(This is part of an ongoing series about World War II veterans from Somerset County. Close to 500 veterans from that war die daily, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The newspaper will tell the stories of those who remain and of those who have died as they and their families come forward. It’s the Daily American’s effort to document an important part of the nation’s history.)
Army Staff Sgt. Richard Sechler left the safety of his foxhole and made his way across open terrain with intense enemy fire. When he got to his platoon leader, he remained calm and brave. His hand was wounded during the ordeal.
“With complete disregard for his own safety, he coolly and efficiently administered first aid to his platoon leader and then dragged and carried him to a sheltered position,” his citation for the action read. “Sergeant Sechler’s heroic action and exemplary loyalty are an honor to the military service.”
Sechler received the Bronze Star for saving the officer’s life. Sechler, of Markleton, was the son of a farmer and housewife. He had two brothers and a sister.
Sechler was inducted into the army in August 1943. He was wounded four times during the war, and received the Purple Heart and three Oak Leaf Clusters. He stormed the beach at Normandy and also fought in some of the most famous battles of the war, including St. Lo, Mortain, Gremecy Forest and Bastogne. He was hospitalized after the third and fourth wounds.
Sechler’s division suffered an 85 percent casualty rate in its first 10 months of combat. Maj. Paul W. Blade, who commanded the division, praised his soldiers in an article that was carried by the associated press.
“If there are any better soldiers anywhere, I would like to know it,” said Maj. Blade, commanding general.
“Every time they needed somebody to block a hole they threw us in,” he said. “They are all good soldiers in the army, but non of them is better than mine. We got closer to Berlin (42 miles) than any other American troops.”
After his time in the service, he returned to his wife Felicia Sechler. They had three children together. Sechler drove a school bus and worked at a hardware store after the war. He seldom spoke about his time in the service, but when he did, it was usually about the Battle of the Bulge, which he described as cold.