At the 99th Annual Conference of the 35th Division Association, the Hall of Fame Committee selected three World War II soldiers for induction into the 35th Division Hall of Fame. These individuals will be inducted at a special ceremony to be held during the Association’s 100th Annual Conference in Kansas City in the Fall of 2017:

 

Second Lieutenant Frank A. Gonzales

XXXX - 1944


 

2nd Lt. Gonzales, a native of Augusta, Kan., served in I Company, 137th Infantry Regiment and landed in Normandy in July, 1944.  After his platoon sergeant was killed during the Battle of St. Lo, then Technical Sgt. Gonzales took command of the platoon which was under heavy mortar and machine gun fire in the hedgerows.  He commanded a tank destroyer whose crew was reduced by enemy fire and directed an attack which destroyed enemy machine gun positions.  Next, he emptied machine guns into other enemy emplacements and finally, using hand grenades, he destroyed an enemy mortar section.  He repeated his actions later the same day.  He received a battlefield promotion to second lieutenant but was killed in action August 2, 1944.  He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for heroism.       

Private First Class Ralph S. Lilly

XXXX -1992

 

Pfc. Lilly, from Houston, Mo., entered combat with A company, 137th Infantry Regiment in September 1944.  During fierce fighting in the Battle of Fonteny, nearly every man in Pfc. Lilly’s unit was killed or wounded.  The platoon medic was wounded.  Two other men going for medical aid were hit.  Pfc. Lilly then volunteered to get help and after a death-defying dash under sniper fire, he reached the aid station and medical reinforcements.  The next day, he found only five men left from the previous morning when his platoon had 50 men.  In the battle for Hilsprich, Pfc. Lilly was hit by shrapnel and severely wounded.  Later at an aid station, he refused surgery until his critically wounded sergeant was treated first.  For his heroism in combat, Pfc. Lilly was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.  He died in 1992.

Private First Class Augustine G. Martinez

XXXX -  

 

Pfc. Martinez was 18 when he was assigned to I Company, 137th Infantry as a replacement rifleman.  On September 16, 1944 near Nancy, Pfc. Martinez and his platoon encountered heavy fire but drove the enemy back to a woods.  A German tank emerged and fired, blowing away Martinez’s left foot.  What followed epitomizes the incredible life-long suffering of wounded soldiers who became POWs.  Pfc. Martinez lay on the battlefield two days in indescribable pain until captured and hauled to a German POW camp, where his leg was partially amputated.  He was released in a prisoner exchange, but he was not the same Augustine Martinez.  For 73 years, he has suffered physically and mentally from his wounds and imprisonment, yet today he has a positive spirit and great pride in his service.  He is a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.  He is 91 and lives in California


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