Stany Zjednoczone / Biografia
Richard F. Wiegand, born in Maryland, USA, enlisted into the US Army in 1943. He was killed in action on Christmas Day 1944, during the German offensive in the Ardennes in the winter of 1944 to 45.
On 2 April 1943, aged twenty, Wiegand enlisted into the United States Army at Baltimore, Maryland. He had attended 4 years of high school education and worked as an athletics and sports instructor.
He was allocated to the US 75th Infantry Division, who at the time were known as the ‘Diaper Division’. This was due to them being a new division who had not seen combat before. In late 1944, they were deployed to the ‘Ghost Front’ in the Ardennes, Belgium. Here, they adapted to a soldiering way of life on the frontline, where it was deemed to be quieter with no prospect of large-scale German attacks. However, on 16 December 1944 the German offensive in the Ardennes changed this.
On 25 December, his Company clashed with the tanks of the German 2nd SS ‘Das Reich’ Panzer Division. He was killed in action, although stories vary on the exact circumstances of his death, and was posthumously awarded the Silver Star. He is buried at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, Belgium.
Wiegand's Silver Star citation reads:
‘Corporal Richard Franklin Wiegand (ASN: 33718955), United States Army, for gallantry in action while serving with Company K, 289th Infantry Regiment, 75th Infantry Division, in action against the enemy in Belgium on 25 December 1944. Corporal Wiegand stopped the advance of the 2nd SS Das Reich, just outside of Grandmenil by taking out the leading panther tank with a bazooka shot. By doing this, the complete Das Reich division was stopped, disabling the midsection of the battle of the Bulge. Corporal Wiegand was killed instantly, because he was too close to the panther tank, when his bazooka round exploded. His gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.’