Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Morton N. Katz, who served as an infantry officer in Africa and Europe during World War II.
Before the U.S. became involved in World War II, Morton N. Katz commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve. Over the course of his service, Katz saw action in foreign places quite different from his native Connecticut.
Katz completed further infantry training at Fort Benning, Georgia, in July 1941 and earned his jump wings from parachute school on Aug. 15, 1942. Katz served in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, where he fought on the Anzio Beachhead. Although trained as paratroopers, Katz and his men assaulted the beachhead amphibiously, with Katz on the lead landing craft of his battalion alongside Lt. Col. William P. Yarborough. In Italy, Katz found a camera at a local German headquarters with which he would document the soldiers, civilians and sights he encountered throughout the war.
Following that, he went to Italy, then to Southern France. His men helped clear out enemy positions in the mountains. It was there that Katz had one of his most memorable experiences of the war, taking an M8 armored car for a joyride in the French countryside.
During the Battle of the Bulge, Katz’s unit attached to the Third Armored Division and went to stop the German advance. Katz’s men engaged in heavy fighting around St. Vith, Belgium, with his unit suffering heavy casualties. In April 1945, Katz participated in the Elbe River crossing as part of the American advance into Germany. Shortly after, Katz helped liberate Wobbelin Concentration Camp in Ludwigslust. After the German surrender, Katz started occupation duty in Berlin.
After, Katz returned to the U.S. and attended law school on the GI Bill. He decided to remain in the service and was assigned to the 411th Civil Affairs Company (CAC). Katz worked there for 17 years, becoming the commanding officer for his final eight years. In 1968, Katz received an assignment at the Pentagon working with the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Katz retired from the service in 1972, with the rank of colonel. He went on to pursue a successful career in law, still serving as a special assistant public defender. During his service, Katz received a Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star Medal with V device and oak leaf cluster, an Army Commendation Medal, a European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with nine campaign stars and invasion arrowhead, and a French Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Tahmin Khan
Editor: Joseph Cardinal, Claire Pei
Fact checker: Robert Burton
Graphic artist: Alyssa Morford