Gerard E. Pfadt
Biography: Gerard Edward Pfadt, "Jerry", was born on May 18, 1922, in Erie, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Jakub James Pfadt and Catherine Buechart and graduated from Erie Prep. He then worked as a house painter prior to the war. His enlistment record indicates that he had some experience as a machinist apprentice.
Service Time: Jerry entered the service on December 19, 1942, at New Cumberland, PA. It was during his early training that he qualified as an Expert with the Submachine gun and a Marksman with the M1 Rifle and Carbine. His military specialty was Ammunition NCO (non-commissioned officer), which indicates that during at least a portion of his service, he was responsible for supervising the requisition, procurement, and distribution of ammunition.
He was assigned to C Company of the 612th Tank Destroyer Battalion, which after training at a variety of military facilities, ultimately shipped out from the New York port on April 7, 1944, and arrived at Greenock, Scotland, on the 15th. After two months of additional training and preparations, they boarded transports and landed in France with 3" towed anti-tank guns, beginning on June 14, and were committed in the vicinity of Cerisy, fighting at Vire during the breakout in July and early August.
In the photo at left above, you can see Jerry standing center, with his sister Kay on left and future wife, Mary, on right. In the photo at right, he's shown holding one of the 3-inch (76.2 mm) HE (high-explosive) shells used in the unit's M5 anti-tank guns.
The 612th moved to Brittany and supported the siege and capture of Brest in late August and September and then shifted to Belgium in October and supported operations against the Siegfried Line until December. At the outbreak of the battle of the Bulge, the unit engaged the Germans in the area of Honsfeld, Belgium. It was on December 23rd that Jerry was hit by shrapnel and ended up in a hospital for treatment. Coincidentally, he found out that his brother James, a combat medic, had also been injured about the same time. Thankfully, Jerry's injuries were not too serious and he was able to rejoin his unit.
The unit converted to a self-propelled battalion using M18 tank destroyers, beginning on December 29, 1944, and then joined the attack through the Monschau Forest in February, 1945 and crossed the Rhine River in March, participating in the race through central Germany to Leipzig in April. The unit crossed the Czechoslovakian border on May 6 and took up occupational duties.
Jerry received credit for each of the unit's five campaigns of Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe. He was awarded the EAME, American Campaign, WWII Victory and the Good Conduct medals. He also received the Purple Heart medal in recognition of his injuries. Jerry shipped back to the U.S. and arrived on October 25, 1945. He was discharged on the 29th, at the Indiantown Gap Military Reservation. He held the rank of Corporal.
Now back in Erie, Jerry began work as a firefighter with the City of Erie. In the photo at left, you can see Jerry standing second from the left. On February 18, 1946, he married the former Mary Louise Moore who was also born in Erie and was the daughter of Edward Moore and Anna Nugent. The new couple would have two sons, David, born in 1949, and Gerard Jr. in 1955. When he wasn't out fighting fires, Jerry enjoyed hunting and fishing and was also a big football and baseball fan.
Jerry passed away on March 7, 1970, and was buried in the Calvary Cemetery on Erie, PA. I want to thank Jerry's son, Gerard (Jerry) Jr., for providing the information and photos from this tribute. I also want to thank Sandra Walczak for the use of the grave marker image.