1st Lt. Morton Katz in Germany 1945 (Alt Jabel, Bleckede, Ludwigslust, Neuhaus, Vielank area) after the 505th PIR liberated the Wobbelin concentration camp at Ludwigslust on 02 May 1945
NAME: Morton Norris Katz
PLACE OF BIRTH: Hartford, CT
DATE OF BIRTH: 1919
DATES OF SERVICE:?? ??? 1942 - ?? ??? 1973
502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment
509th Parachute Infantry Battalion
505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
CAMPAIGNS: Algeria- French Morocco, Tunisia, Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, Southern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe
AWARDS: Parachutist Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with V Device and oakleaf cluster, Army Commendation Medal, EAME Campaign Medal with arrowhead and nine campaign stars, WWII Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (Germany), French Medal of Liberation, French Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, Presidnetial Unit Citation with oak leaf cluster, French 3rd Zouaves Regiment Badge, six overseas service bars
SUMMARY OF SERVICE:
?? ??? 1919 - Born in Hartford, CT
?? ??? 1935 - Graduated from Weaver High School
?? ??? 1939 - Graduated from Connecticut State College with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
?? ??? 1940 - Graduated from Iowa State University, Ames with a Master of Science in Organic Chemistry
?? ??? 1940 - Comissioned in the Army Reserve as a 2nd Lieutenant
?? Apr 1942 - Ordered to active duty and reported to Fort Benning, GA
15 Aug 1942 - Assigned to Company I, 3rd Bn, 502nd PIR
"I was assigned to the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment from the Jump School on 15 August 1942 in the Alabama Training Area of Fort Benning. When the 502nd went to Fort Bragg, NC to form the 101st Airborne Division, we were there five days when I was serving as Officer of the Day. Lt Col. George Van Horn Mosely Jr., Regimental C.O., ordered me to get every 2nd Lt to his office at once. Twelve 2nd Lts. and 160 privates were selected for a draft to the 2nd Bn, 503rd Parachute Infantry commanded by Lt Col. Edson Raff, Jr., in Hungerford, Berkshire, England. We left Ft Bragg the next day for Fort Hamilton, NY and sailed on the Queen Elizabeth with the 29th Infantry Division. After landing in Scotland we finally joined the 2nd Bn 503rd early in October before the North African invasion."
01 Oct 1942 - Assigned to 2nd Bn, 503rd PIR (2nd Bn 509th PIR)
14 Sep 1943 - 1st Lt. Morton N. Katz O-395448 2nd Bn, 509th PIR Assigned Rear Det in Sicily
"When we made the amphibious landing I was serving as Adjutant and LTC Bill Yarborough assigned me to work as S-2 until Lt John Roy Martin took over the job. I was in the first LCA with LTC Yarborough, hitting the beach at 0400 (22 Jan 1944). Ed Kryzwonos, our radio operator, got off the ramp and disappeared into a hole. He came up and made it to the beach. On the beach had to take a leak and in taking off the rubber life belt, lost my flashlight."
"I kicked in the door of the house to the left of the casino. The place was empty and when we got to the street in front, there was a very dead Kraut propped up against the wheel of an Italian 155mm gun primer mover. We turned right and hit the Villa Borghese which was the German HQ and the Fascisti naval HQ (X Flottila Massiglione). Dick Fisco and I went up the stairs and found the door at the top locked. I had Fisco blast the lock open with a Thompson sub-machine gun and I rushed in with my .45 in one hand and a grenade in the other, only to find the room empty as the Krauts had bailed out the back window into the yard where Lt Val Pierson's guy took care of them. Sgt. Leone and I went into the HQ room downstairs and found the map with the locations of the mines on the beach. We got it to the Engineers and they went nuts over it. There was a bottle of Scotch and a Kodak Retina f 4.5 35 mm camera. I asked Leone which one he wanted of these two items on the sideboard and he answered, "I'd like the Scotch, Lieutenant." I took photos all the way from Anzio through northern Germany when I was with the 505th."
"I was there with Yarborough when he received the incredible order from Sixth Corps to "Stop and dig in" I thought he would go ballistic. It was a total failure to not follow up on the initial surprise and made us bog down until May."
"When Dick Fisco's patrol picked up the pilot in the P-40 from the 99th Pursuit Squadron I was doing double duty as S-1/S-2. Fisco reported that his Allison in-line engine had been shot out and he crash-landed. While the pilot was waiting outside our HQ to be picked up, our S-3 Bill Howland was inside with our C.O., Yarborough, and myself and was reviling the pilot in the worst terms, calling him a coward, that he had tried to run from a dog-fight, etc. When I pointed out that the in-line engine is shot out, every system goes and the aircraft is inoperative, Howland flew into a rage and ordered me to shut up. While I respected Howland as a gutsy staff officer who always was at the front lines, he was the most bigoted of any of the southerners I knew."
05 Jan 1944 GO 1 HQ XVIII Corps Award of Bronze Star Bronze Star 385 Stand in the Door Charles H. Doyle
11 Jan 1944 - 1st Lt. Morton N. Katz O-395448 HHC, 509th PIB SO 4 Assigned as Graves Registration Officer 1st Lt. Morton N. Katz O-395448 509th PIB
Bronze Star Citation: MORTON N. KATZ, O-395448, First Lieutenant, Infantry, Headquarters, 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, for heroic achievement in action. During combat operations on the Anzio Beachhead from 31 January 1944 to 12 March 1944, Lieutenant KATZ was responsible for the successful removal of fatal casualties from the forward positions of the Battalion near Carano. Companies were so depleted that no aid was available from them. It was necessary to bring up a GMC truck; proceed on foot over open field in bright moonlight, and remove the bodies from the thirty-foot gully. During the time the area was under shellfire and there was no cover. On 19 February 1944, Lieutenant KATZ went to the position which had been under heavy shelling all day and was then lighted by enemy flares. Under artillery and mortar fire three trips were made over open ground. Following an all day barrage on 29 February 1944, Lieutenant KATZ proceeded over an open field to recover three men in a dugout. Working in rain and total darkness, he evacuated the men over a stream at the bottom of a deep, slippery gully and across a half mile of open field crossed by ditches two to four feet in depth. His resourcefulness, perseverance and courage to carry out a most difficult job were responsible for prompt removal of bodies, and contributed greatly to the high morale of the battalion. Entered military service from Hartford, Connecticut.
10 Apr 1944 - 1st Lt. Morton N. Katz O-395448 HHC, 509th PIB Adjutant GO 5 The following named Officers and Enlisted Men of Companies indicated having fulfilled all requirements as set forth in Par #3. a and b, Section I, WD Circular #269, dated 27 October 1943, are hereby announced as Combat Infantrymen and are entitled to wear the badge as specified in WD Circular above.
17 Jul 1944 - 1st Lt. Morton N. Katz O-395448 HHC, 509th PIB Adjutant SO 51 Assigned as Class "A" Agent Finance Officer for Officers
"For some unknown reason, Lt Col. William P. Yarborough refused to take me into Southern France with the Airborne phase of the operation DRAGOON. 14/15 August 1944. Bill Sullivan (who had been comissioned while we were in Italy) and I brought in the supply/administrative echelon by ship a few days later with our vehicles. One of the first things Bill and I did was to find the Plantation Bar - this was a classy joint done in black glass and run by a lady from Cuba who was high on drugs. We spent the afternoon there drinking some excellent Scotch paid for with invasion money. I worked mainly as Adjutant with Bill as my assistant (Bill was a natural instructor who taught me to fire the M-1 rifle grenade without blowing my damn fool head off) and also conducted operations north of Nice at Lantosque and Piera Cava."
"We found a 1936 or '37 Cord sedan in a garage under a hotel and the manager told us it belonged to Sidney Chaplin, son of the actor Charlie Chaplin. He had left the car when he got out in 1940 just before the Nazis came in. The Krauts had taken the tires for rubber and we put four GI tires on the car and ran around in it until December when we left for Villers-Cotterets. It was a splendid car - a ]ow-slung, cream colored sedan with the big flexible pipes going out of the hood. It was all red leather upholstered with a gazillion dials on the dash and hand cranks to ro11 out the headlights and tail lights. It broke our hearts to leave it (we did take our tires back).
"Some local thief was stealing the jerry cans of gas from the holders on the back of the jeeps. We set a trap for him by putting some cans of gas diluted with water and some sugar added on a few jeeps. A few were stolen and we got the crook when we saw his car stalled and sugar crystallizing out of the head gasket - it was very satisfying to see him teed off and the end of his racket."
"In Southern France we had a company of the M-8 armored car attached to the Battalion. This was a three-ax1e six-wheeI vehicle with a very powerful White truck engine and I wanted badly to get behind the wheel and see what one of the cars would do. A group of my guys came with me to the garage where the cars were kept and I managed to con the Sergeant into letting us have a car for 'road testing'. We went up the mountain above Nice and had a great time whipping around the hairpin turns and switchbacks. As we started down to return the M-8 we ran into a jeep coming up. If you haven't guessed who was in the jeep it was the C.O. who owned the vehicle and he was not a happy camper. I'11 omit the profanity when he asked: "What are you **** doing with that ***** vehicle?" He probably did not buy the song and dance about the road testing and said in no uncertain terms: "Get that ****** car back to the ****** garage NOW!". Happily we never got reported. We did have a great time."
"In September 1944 Sol Weber and I wished to attend services for Rosh Hashanah, the New Year. This is the beginning of the ten days of Penitence and concludes with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. We came down from our operations in the mountains and found a small storefront synagogue in Nice. We barged in with full combat gear, armed to the teeth, and the members of the congregation almost panicked. We explained that we simply wished to take part in services and were given seats up front, provided with appropriate head covering and prayer books and the services continued. After services, the members of the congregation, all refugees, described the horrors they had endured, the loss of families, the concentration camps and other persecutions. With all they had suffered, when we left, they were praying for our safety."
"In October the F.F.I. threw a big party to commemorate the liberation of Southern France. Lt Col. Yarborough was invited to attend to represent the 509th. He got tied up with a staff meeting at First Airborne Task Force and designated Harry H. Pritchett Jr., one of the 1943 Class West point grads whose time at the Academy was cut short, and myself to attend and stand in for him. There was an aperitif before dinner, strong red country wine with dinner and cognac flowing freely thereafter. Harry and I were poured out the door and a street photographer propped us up against the Lantosque fountain for some pictures."
"When Bill Yarborough was ordered back to the ZI to attend the US Army Command and General Staff College the first thing he did on arriving in the US was to call my mother and let her know I was alright. He always treated me well and usually looked at my errors as learning exercises (and I never made those mistakes again)."
"I was there when Capt. Howland was killed at Koenigswald in Born, Belgium in the Ardennes Campaign and in fact picked up his body"
01 Feb 1945 - Assigned to 505th PIR as Intelligence Officer
30 Apr 1945 - Participated in the amphibious assault across the Elbe River then went through Alt Jabel, Bleckede, Ludwigslust, Vielank and Neuhaus
02 May 1945 - Involved in the liberation of Wobbelin Concentration Camp at Ludwigslust, Germany
"I came to Cannes from Berlin about August 1945 for a week at the Army R and R Center. Talking with other refugees there we learned that the Italian military stationed there were so sickened at what the Nazis were doing that they became active in hiding and protecting refugees from the Nazi military, the SS and the Gestapo."
1946 - Taught Chemistry at Iowa State University for one year
1947 - Decided to follow in his fathers footsteps an become a lawyer, he returned to Connecticut where he enrolled in the University of Connecticut Law School using his GI Bill. He quickly realized that law was where he belonged. He served on the Board of Student Editors
1951 - Graduated from Law School with Honors
???? - Commanded the 411th Civil Affairs unit in West Hartford, CT
1967 - "Our older daughter was born the day the D/A Circular came out with the All-Army eligibility list for promotion to Colonel O-6. Bill designated Rachel as 'Child of the Regiment' being the first child of a member of the Regiment, and sent me his own silver eagles to wear. He also sent Rachel a silver 'loving cup' with her initials engraved."
1968 - Held a Mobilization Designation assignment with Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (OACSI)and Defense Intelligence Agency
1968 to 1995 - National Judge Advocate for the 82nd Airborne Dvision Association
1972 - Awarded the Legion of Merit for 32 years of honorable service
Served on the Govenors Military Staff for Govenors Grasso, O'Neill and Weicker
1984 - serves on Connecticuts Public Transportation Commission
1991 - Bacame a Solo practitioner from his home office
1995 - Retired from military service for the State of Connecticut in the statutory grade of Brigadier General
1997 - Serves as a Special Public Defender in G.A. 14 representing indigent defendants unable to retain private counsel
1998 - Appointed as a Superior Court Magistrate and hears small claims, and infractions cases in Middletown, New Britain, New London, Norwich, and Bantam
2010 - Presented the Hartford County Bar Association's Pro Bono Award
08 May 2012 - Awarded the French Legion of Honor at West Point
1st Sgt. Joe Viteritto and S-1 - 1st Lt. Morton Katz having one of their daily strength conferences. Upper Volturno Front, Italy, November 1943. Pen and ink sketch by Sgt. Ora E. Rundell
Harry Pritchett and Morton Katz after the FFI observance of the liberation of Southern France. In Lantosque, France in Oct 1944
Article from the 1973 edition of the Paraglide about the award of the Legion of Merit to COL Morton Katz
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