May 06, 2011
The following news story is about James Doyle, a Galesburg native and 1944 Knox College graduate, now living in upstate New York. Reproduced with permission of YNN. The original story and video is available at the YNN website.
It's been 66 years since James Doyle of Newark, Wayne County, [New York] fought in World War II. After keeping much of his war time experience to himself the 88-year-old finally opened up on Veterans Day .
He was the featured speaker at the Newark Rotary Club luncheon. He gave a video presentation on the Attack of the Siegfried Line in which Doyle participated as a 22-year-old on November 19, 1944. Doyle fought with the U.S. Army's 84th Infantry Division where he led a unit of 50 soldiers. He told of being wounded by a shell blast and spending 17 months in a hospital; something Doyle says he hasn't talked about before.
"It probably gave me a chance for the first time to really recall some of the things that I'd experienced. Many of the things I hadn't talked about previously. So that in and of itself is kind of closure," Doyle explained.
The Rotary program also included a special presentation by members of the United States Army. They awarded Doyle five medals he didn't know he had earned including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
"Real pride; real pride that I had somehow or another made a difference in the lives of people that were less fortunate than ourselves," he said of receiving the medals. "From that perspective it was pleasurable as well as recall of past experiences."
Doyle's son, Steve, says while going through a safety deposit box at his parents Newark home last year, he found his father's discharge papers. Steve says that's when he learned his father was due the medals. He then went on a mission to obtain them as a surprise for his dad.
"I did about a four month search and back and forth with the National Personnel Records Archive and they admitted yes, a screw up 66 years ago," Steve Doyle said. "And since he was in the hospital after the war ended they never followed up on it and of course dad never cared about the medals."
Captain Joseph Cosci says it was a humbling experience for him to represent the Army and present the medals to Doyle.
"To be connected to a real genuine hero like that, and just to be associated in the same organization, our great Army, and all he's done for this country, it really going forward provides me with the energy and motivation to do the best I can and continue on to be the best officer and American I can be," Cosci said.
James Doyle says he has celebrated a lot of Veterans Days over the years, but this was the best and one he will always remember.