|Pvt. Ralph Bedenbender served in the 40th Infantry Division in the Philippines.|
Ralph O. Bedenbender never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on September 28, 1917 in Illinois. His parents were also both born in Illinois. His father worked as a fam laborer and later as a farmer. Ralph had three younger brothers (one who served in the Navy during the war) and a younger sister. By 1940 Ralph had completed eight years of schooling. He was living with his paternal grandparents working as a farmhand. He married Dorothy Turner. They did not have any children.
He enlisted in the army on August 19, 1943 and became a private in Company D, 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, 40th Infantry Division. The 40th first major action was the assault landing on Luzon, Philippines on January 9, 1945. It was followed up with another landing at Bamban. While opposition during the first landing was light, Bamban was a different story. The division battled the main Japanese force in the Bamban Hills, Fort Stotsenburg and Clark Field, the Zambales Mountains, Snake Hill, Storm King Mountain, the Seven Hills, and the mountain known as the Top of the World. He was killed on February 19, 1945.
His grave is at Palm Cemetery, Rushville, Illinois. His widow remarried after the war and died in 2011.
Medal of Honor Hero
Also born on September 28, 1917 was Yeiki Kobashigawa who was a second lieutenant in the 100th Infantry Battalion. Yeiki was born in Hawaii of Japanese born parents. He earned a Distinguished Service Cross for heroic action in Italy while a sergeant. Five decades later, a congressional review determined that prejudice kept Lt. Kobashigawa from earning the Medal of Honor. This oversight was corrected in 2000. He died in 2005.
Technical Sergeant Yeiki Kobashigawa distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 2 June 1944, in the vicinity of Lanuvio, Italy.
During an attack, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa's platoon encountered strong enemy resistance from a series of machine guns providing supporting fire. Observing a machine gun nest 50 yards from his position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa crawled forward with one of his men, threw a grenade and then charged the enemy with his submachine gun while a fellow soldier provided covering fire. He killed one enemy soldier and captured two prisoners. Meanwhile, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa and his comrade were fired upon by another machine gun 50 yards ahead. Directing a squad to advance to his first position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa again moved forward with a fellow soldier to subdue the second machine gun nest. After throwing grenades into the position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa provided close supporting fire while a fellow soldier charged, capturing four prisoners. On the alert for other machine gun nests, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa discovered four more, and skillfully led a squad in neutralizing two of them.
Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.
On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!
I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.
Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100