When asked by his son Gordon "Hey dad did you kill anybody when you were in the war?". Albert looked at him, didn't say one word and only shook his head, yes, slowly. Albert was a jolly fellow loved to make people laugh. He also loved to dance, Albert and his wife would go to the NCO club at Fort Bragg and dance until the very late hours.
Albert Blithe joined the army in 1942. The reason was he wanted to get out of Philadelphia for personal reasons and what better way to achieve that, then joining the army. Blithe trained at Camp Toccoa, Georgia in August 1942 under Captain Herbert M. Sobel. Albert loved the military and it became his pride and joy. After his Paratrooper training and his stay in England Albert headed of to Normandy. He jumped into France and touched down on a totally different position then where he was supposed to land. He landed in a ditch and stayed there, not sure were he was and overwhelmed by this new and hazardous sensation which every man felt that jumped into war that day and eventually feel asleep.
After an unknown period of time Albert was found by other paratroopers who had been scattered all over the countryside, they too had missed their DropZone (DZ). Albert teamed up to go to St. Marcouf, where they found the rest of Easy Company. The famous picture (on the right in the green bar) of paratroopers holding a captured German flag, was taken in St. Marcouf, Albert is the paratrooper on the far right.
After a short rest the company was ordered to take Carentan. On a night time patrol Albert came across a dead German paratrooper, Lewis Nixon explained that the white Edelweiss flower on the dead man's jacket was found in the Alps above the tree line and having such a flower was a token of courage, for he had to have gone up there to get it.
After fighting off some fierce resistance in Carentan, things seemed to be settling down for Easy Company and they took the village. In the aid station in Carentan, Albert Blithe was sitting on the ground, his eyes staring out in front of him. Lieutenant Richard Winters, being treated their at the same time for wounds to the leg, asked him what was wrong, talked to him...and somehow touched Blithe inside. Albert had to find his courage and overcome his fear, and he did just that, out in the field moving out of Carentan. Blithe encouraged by other men in his platoon found his courage, and there in a moment of silence from the sounds of war Albert started firing his gun.
One of his bullets struck a German paratrooper. After the fighting was over, Easy Company was assisted by the 2d Armored Division to fight off the German Tanks, Albert walked over to the enemy lines to find the soldier he had shot. He kneeled down beside him closed his eyes and took the white Edelweiss flower from his jacket and put it on his own. This is were Albert had accepted the place and the madness he was in. Further down the road in a field Easy Company came across a suspicious looking farmhouse and Carson and Nixon asked for volunteers to check it out. Blithe volunteered as first soldier and with two other platoon members headed off in the direction of the farmhouse. At that moment bad luck struck Albert Blithe and he got hit in the shoulder by a German sniper. That same day Easy Company was pulled off the line.
Albert Blithe was never wounded In the neck, as led to believe in the TV series Band of Brothers, but was wounded in the shoulder leaving a nasty scar. The bullet that wounded Albert on his 21st birthday, is on the left in the green picture bar. He earned the Silver Star 3 Purple Hearts 2 Bronze Stars Army Occupation Medal and a WW2 Victory Medal and that was just from WW2
Also Albert became Trooper of the year at Fort Bragg NC while he was with the 82nd Airborne division. Had he been alive today he would say.. "I aint no hero by a long shot. I'm just a paratrooper". Albert received the Purple Heart for his wounds on June 25th, 1944. Released from Army Hospitals on: October 8, 1945. He returned to Philadelphia and started a career with Westinghouse Electric. He was called back to active duty; served in the Korean War and achieved the rank of Master Sergeant. He married and had two children, a son and daughter; lived in North Carolina with his family.
He passed away on December 17, 1967 on an American Army Base in Germany and was buried in Arlington with full military honors. Albert's wife recalls: "That poor man went through hell during the war and loved the army so much. In time you see how much he loved the army. No other person alive loved the army and being a paratrooper more than Albert did."
Fellow company member Mr. Don Malarkey recalls: "I remember Alibie Blithe very well and the most interesting thng I recall is that he used to like dice games! He would never never roll the dice but would always bet against the shooter and always won money!"
Blithe died December 17, 1967, while on active duty with the 8th Supply and Transport Battalion, 8th Infantry Division, in West Germany at Wiesbaden Air Force Hospital. A week before his death, he had attended a weekend at Bastogne, Belgium commemorating the Battle of the Bulge, from which he had returned feeling unwell. He was taken to the emergency room on December 11 and diagnosed with a perforated ulcer. Emergency surgery was performed on December 12, 1967. He subsequently developed peritonitis and on December 16, he suffered renal failure and died at 0055 hours on December 17. After a memorial service conducted by Chaplain (Major) Thomas F DesChamps, Blithe was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia with full military honors on December 28.
This story of Albert Blithe was conceived from interviews with his son Gordon "Gordie" Blithe.
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