A World War Two veteran is honored during a special ceremony at the Sacramento Valley Museum on Saturday, November 14, 2015.
Congressman John Garamendi office representative, CMSgt. John Evalle presented Pfc. Robert ‘Bob’ Dutil, 90, with the Bronze Star. Dutil fought with the 3rd Infantry Division, which liberated Berchtesgaden, Germany 70-years ago.
Capt. Monika Stoy and LTC Timothy Stoy from the Society of the 3rd Infantry Division’s Outpost International hosted the ceremony, gathering Dutil’s family, friends, neighbors, and comrades to celebrate this momentous moment.
LTC Timothy Stoy explained that the WWII regulations did not formally prescribe a specific combat service period establishing the infantryman’s eligibility for being awarded a Combat Infantryman Badge; and in 1947, the U.S. Government implemented a policy authorizing the retroactive awarding of the Bronze Star Medal to World War II veteran soldiers who had been awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge. At the time, the Combat Infantry Badge was awarded only to soldiers who had borne combat duties befitting the recognition conferred by a Bronze Star Medal. Both awards required a commander’s recommendation and a citation in the pertinent orders.
“Sorry that it took 70-years, but it gives me a great honor and a privilege to present you with the Bronze Star today,” said LTC Stoy.
LTC Stoy narrated a slideshow of photographs depicting what Bob and his division faced during the war.
Raised in Williams, California, Dutil was drafted into the United States Army after graduating High School on November 19, 1943.
After boot camp, Dutil arrived at Camp Shelby and was later transferred to Fort Mead, Maryland where he was shipped out to Italy and in August of 1944, Dutil’s ship arrived in Naples, Italy where he traveled to Epinal, France and was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division.
Dutil and his division and headed towards enemy lines and from October 1944 to February 1945, he fought in the Colmar Pocket area of France near the Rhine River. Through April of 1945, they fought into Germany and Austria.
“When people say it was the coldest winter in 100 years – well, in this case, it was true,” said LTC Stoy, “the ground was frozen solid – and when the ground wasn’t frozen Bob, and his crew had to deal with wet, freezing, sticky mud.”
LTC Stoy noted that over 250 soldiers died of frostbite.
On May 4, 1945, Dutil and his division liberated Adolf Hitler’s hideout, known as the Eagles Nest in Berchtesgaden, Germany. Four days later, Germany surrendered.
Dutil and his division stayed in Salzberg, Austria; Bad Wildungen, Germany; and Ziegenhain, German, and was later shipped home from Belgium in February 1946.
Dutil was discharged on March 25, 1946, at Camp Beal in Marysville, California.
After his deployment, Dutil went on to marry his wife of 57-years, Claire and raised two children, a daughter Lynn and a son Dan, in Williams, California growing Walnuts.
In 2008, Capt. Monika Stoy was on the search for members of the 3rd Infantry Division of 1944 for a special plaque presentation in Berchtesgaden, Germany.
“We searched and searched, some members had already passed, and others thought we were telemarketers,” said Capt. C. Stoy, “That was until we called Bob, he listened to us and agreed to come out.”
Dutil, then 83-years-young, traveled to Washington D.C. and met LTC Timothy Stoy for a connecting flight to Germany.
“When I first met Bob, I didn’t really know what to talk about other than his service, and I didn’t want him telling his story twice,” said LTC Stoy, “So I mentioned that I knew he grew walnuts – and boy was I in for it; It was like ‘bubba gump’ shrimp, I learned everything there was to be known about walnut farming.”
Upon arriving in Berchtesgaden, Germany, veterans Robert Dutil, John Miller, and Ross Brown raised a special forty-eight-star flag. The group then unveiled a commemorative brass plaque that recognized the 3rd Infantry Division’s entry into Berchtesgaden on May 4, 1945, the first allied unit to enter the city.
Capt. Stoy commented that the plaque visibly testifies to the division’s hard-won battle honor of liberating Berchtesgaden, a fact erroneously called into question in Stephen Ambrose’s book Band of Brothers which inaccurately the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment with that honor.
Since 2008, Dutil has returned to Berchtesgaden each year and attended the annual ceremony and toured the European countries.
“We are here to honor Bob with gratitude and let known that – freedom is not free,” said Capt. Stoy.