Twenty-one-year old Joseph Schmidt of 69th Lane in Maspeth was called for military duty in 1942 and did his basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia. He was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One. He was shipped to Tunisia, North Africa for his first campaign of heavy fighting where he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for exemplary conduct in ground combat. His next mission was the invasion of Sicily. On June 6, 1944 (D-Day), he landed on Omaha Beach and was promoted from Private to Sergeant on that day. July 21, 1944, he received his second bronze star by fearlessly crossing over open terrain under enemy machine gunfire to rescue a seriously wounded member of his squad. After heavy fighting, spearheading the St. Lo breakthrough to the Falaise Pocket, the 1st Infantry took the first German city of Aachen. Schmidt received a citation for the Silver Star, on October 15, 1944 by assaulting an enemy Pillbox, crossing open terrain under heavy fire, placing dynamite near steel door structures. Realizing the German soldiers were trapped, more than a score surrendered. His next move was to the Hyertgen Forest, where he fought in the Battle of The Bulge. He was awarded his fifth Purple Heart on January 28, 1945. During his wartime service, Joseph was awarded a Silver Star, Bronze Star with cluster, Purple Heart with 4 clusters, Bronze Arrowhead, Distinguished Unit Badge, European African-Middle Eastern Service, Medal Combat Infantry Badge and six Battle Stars. Schmidt passed away in 2004 after being married to his wife Evelyn for 56 years and becoming a beloved father and grandfather. He is buried in Calverton Cemetery.
Honoring Maspeth WWII hero Joseph Schmidt
Thursday, June 6, 2019
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