Wilfred Earl Lewis never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on May 8, 1918 (or perhaps on May 3) in Illinois. His parents Earl and Fanny were also both born in Illinois. His father worked as a laborer doing odd jobs. His mother died in 1930 and his father remarried. Wilfred had six younger sisters and two younger brothers. By 1940 Wilfred had completed three years of high school and worked as a cleaning man.
He was drafted into the army on May 20, 1942. He volunteered for paratrooper training and became a corporal in the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.
Cpl. Lewis participated in the June 6, 1944 D-Day early morning parachute drop on Normandy. The airdrops were scattered and the men were not able to group up in their own units. Cpl. Lewis survived the fighting for one month.
On July 3 the 82nd began an attack to take La Poterie Ridge. The Germans had used 11 days to set up their defenses. The American advance was challenged by multiple German counterattacks, but on July 4 the 82nd still managed to kill more than 500 of the enemy and take another 700 as prisoners. The ridge was captured in full by July 5. Cpl. Lewis was killed on that day. He was one of 1,142 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers killed fighting in Normandy, about 1 in 10 men. Total casualties including wounded, captured or otherwise incapacitated were nearly 50%. The 82nd was pulled out of the fighting and sent to England three days later.
His grave is at Wheeler Cemetery in Wheeler, Illinois.
Last year on this date I profiled Major League Baseball player Henry O'Neill, 4th Marine Division, who fought at Kwajalein, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima. You can read about Henry here.
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.
Please consider joining the public Facebook group to increase the exposure of this project. Go to: WW2 Fallen 100