On March 20, Congressman John Boehner presented Wayne Weber with the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, and the Purple Heart. Mr. Weber served in the 182nd Battalion of the Army in World War II. A rifleman, Mr. Weber fought in the Pacific Philippines islands, where he “hit the beach” in Cebu City.
Mr. Weber was born in Oxford, Ohio, in 1925. He attended McGuffey High School in Oxford, where he played left guard on the football team. “Growing up in the country, we did just about everything,” Mr. Weber says. “But swimming and fishing in the creek were my favorite.”
The third-born among five brothers and one sister, Mr. Weber would work the farms with the neighborhood kids and play with them in the afternoons after work. His greatest influence was his maternal grandfather, who he describes as a hard player and a hard worker who taught him to enjoy life as they went swimming and hunting together.
After Mr. Weber returned home from combat, he recounted his travails in the Philippines:
Moving up the highway towards our objective, Goat Hill, I had no idea what day it was or how long we had been on Cebu when again we were back on track. Up Goat Hill, to the military crest, we stopped as there was a large shell crater which was used later as a shelter for the wounded and the dead. I became one of the wounded. Again I am not sure how long we lingered in the crater before we moved forward. It wasn’t too long before all hell broke loose; mortar, machinegun and rifle fire. It seemed the enemy had guided us to this particular spot so we could be picked off like sitting ducks. In my effort to get back to the shell crater a small knee mortar shell exploded near my left side.
Fortunately the only fragment that hit me was a small piece of the copper guide band that stuck in my elbow but the worst was yet to come. As I crawled forward toward the crater I was hit in the left ankle by machinegun fire, which ended my career as a combat soldier. This was at 2:30PM (I noted my watch). A fellow soldier, only known to me as “Gumbo” ran out of the crater and dragged me into it. Gumbo then proceeded to drag others to the crater.
After the war, Mr. Weber went into business with his father. With the help of a low-interest loan provided by the G.I. Bill, they founded Weber Plumbing and Heating in Oxford. Now living happily at The Barrington of West Chester in West Chester, Ohio, Mr. Weber’s words of advice are “Keep your nose clean.”
The medal ceremony was a private affair with only Mr. Weber’s family in attendance. A celebration at The Barrington of West Chester was held afterward.
About the Awards
The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to members of the United States armed forces for acts of heroism, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone.
The Combat Infantry Badge is awarded to infantrymen and Special Forces soldiers in the rank of Colonel and below, who fought in active ground combat while assigned as members of either an infantry, Ranger, or Special Forces unit, of brigade size or smaller, any time after December 6, 1941. The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who are wounded by an instrument of war at the hands of the enemy.
[Featured photo: Wayne Weber just before shipping to war.]