Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Bruce Donald Fenchel. Bruce served during World War II from 1943 to 1945.
Bruce served in the 8th Tank Battalion with General Patton’s 4th Armored Division. On June 6, 1944, Bruce participated in the invasion of Normandy, landing on Utah Beach. In an interview with the Veterans History Project, Bruce described that the ground felt “like an earthquake that just wouldn’t stop,” as the area was bombed.
During the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, Bruce’s unit was called in to aid the 101st Airborne in Bastogne, Belgium, which was surrounded by German troops and running out of ammunition. While making their way through Chaumont, Belgium, his battalion was attacked. As American troops began to retreat, Bruce’s tank was hit by a German shell and the gas tank exploded. After running through machine gun fire and more gas tank explosions, he found refuge in a Belgian home. He was able to stay in the family’s attic and even joined them for Christmas Eve dinner. Days later, Bruce saw an American reconnaissance tank and reunited with his unit.
In April 1945, Bruce’s tank, along with four other tanks, came upon large, locked gates while moving through the town of Ohrdruf, Germany. The unit noticed an odor and heard machine gun fire, and decided to ram the gates down. There, they found and liberated the Ohrdruf Concentration Camp, the first Nazi concentration camp liberated by U.S. troops.
After the war, Bruce completed his undergraduate and dental education at the University of Iowa. He served as a family dentist in Manning, Iowa and in Cedar Rapids. Bruce passed away on Oct. 19, 2008 at the age of 83.
We honor his service.
Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Graphic By Lilian Vo: Lilian Vo is an undergraduate senior at George Mason University studying Global Affairs and Intelligence Analysis.