By Lynn Sheffield Simmons, Contributing Writer
January was a momentous month for World War II veteran Jack Beddingfield and his wife, Cleo. Jack celebrated his 93rd birthday, plus he and his wife celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary.
Beddingfield was born in Anderson County, Texas, in 1924. After graduating from high school, the eighteen-year-old was drafted into the U.S. Army in November 1943. When Jack’s three-month basic training in Florida was completed, he was sent to Europe and assigned to the 117th Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Company F, 30th Infantry Division light machine gun section.
His division was on its way to Normandy, France; they landed at Omaha Beach a few days after the June 6, 1944 start of the D-Day landing by Allied Forces. The Operation Overlord lasted until August and was the largest seaborne invasion in history. It began the liberation of the German occupation of Western Europe, but is the most deadly American battle, with an estimated 34,137 soldiers killed.
It was assumed the war would soon be over, but German forces launched battles known collectively as the Battle of the Bulge. The Battle of the Bulge was fought from Dec. 16, 1944 until Jan. 16, 1945.
The battle was fought in the densely-forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in eastern Belgium, northeast France and Luxembourg. It was the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front during World War II and is known as the largest battle fought on the Western Front in Europe during World War II. It was also the largest battle ever fought by the U.S. Army.
Beddingfield was located on the Germany/France border. On Jan. 16, 1945, he was moving with his unit near a German tank, which was shooting bullets in a different direction from his unit, but a bullet ricocheted off the ice hitting him in the back.
Beddingfield was taken to a hospital in England where he had surgery and stayed in the hospital, until his release May 8, 1945; the same day the war ended.
In October 2013, Beddingfield– along with six other area United States World War II veterans, dubbed “the magnificent seven”– received the French Legion of Honor.
The medal of Chevalier French Order of the Legion of Honor, France’s most prestigious medal, was presented to the recipients by Consul General de France Sujiro Seam at the Dallas City Hall.
The Beddingfields live in Argyle and have been active members at the Argyle Baptist Church and the Argyle Senior Center.
Lynn Sheffield Simmons is the founder and past president of the North Texas Book Festival Inc. Simmons is the author of 10 children’s books and two history books on Argyle. Her website is www.ArgyleBooks.com. She can be reached at Lynn@argylebooks.com