On October 29, 2021, our project team visited several villages in Schleiden area, Germany that the men of the 2nd Infantry Division liberated during the offensive in early February 1945. We also visited the village of Harperscheid, which was liberated by the 9th Infantry Regiment on the evening of February 2, 1945. The village of Harperscheid became a target for both American and German artillery fire, causing most of the buildings to be severely damaged, including an evangelical church that lost its roof and stained-glass windows. In one of the official photographs taken on February 3, 1945, we can see members of the 9th Infantry Regiment advancing along the main street in Harperscheid near the evangelical church.
“The 9th Infantry Regiment continued to attack east along the Wahlerscheid-Harperscheid road on February 2, meeting stiff resistance from mortars and machine guns, and small arms fire. Artillery, then tank and infantry assault, reduced this opposition and the troops moved forward to a Y-shaped road junction near Schönesseifen, north of which one battalion of the 9th Infantry Regiment encountered a strong position which gave trouble to the end of day. The attack swept on to Schönesseifen despite assault guns and light flak guns, taking the town by 1700, then moving on to Harperscheid, clearing it of an enemy now apparently becoming disorganized.”
Four members of the 9th Infantry Regiment were killed in action during the fighting for the villages of Schöneseiffen and Harperscheid on February 2, 1945:
S/Sgt. Candelario Garza from San Antonio, Texas (27 y.o., killed on his birthday)
Pvt. William H. Hechtman from Sacramento, California (23 y.o.)
Pvt. Albert M. Kellar from Burbank, California (38 y.o.)
Pvt. Albert Rucek from Johnstown, Pennsylvania (18 y.o.)
We honor your memory and will never forget!!
SOURCE: The Combat History of the 2nd Infantry Division, page 116.