Stephen W. Brier
Biography: Stephen William Brier was born on October 18, 1917, in New York, New York. He was the son of Joseph Brier and Mary Iritz and graduated from New York City schools. He found work as a steelworker and merchant seaman.
Service Time: Stephen entered the service on November 27, 1940, at Altoona, Pennsylvania. He was one of the first eight men from the Johnstown, PA area chosen through the new Selective Service Act.
The men were given some type of meal and ceremony to acknowledge their selection and for the important step they were taking to protect our freedom. All the men gave the “O.K”, identifying their positive attititude toward being in the Army. You can see Stephen standing third from the right.
The men were expecting a one year stint, but that changed with the start of the war. Stephen was fluent in German, which was a beneficial skill for any soldier heading for Germany.
He was assigned to B Company of the 893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, which trained at a number of camps and participated in the North Carolina maneuvers. While stationed at Camp Hood, Texas, many of unit’s members were transferred to other newly activated units to share their experience.
During his training, Stephen was accepted into the Army Air Corp. for pilot training, but his commanding officer refused to allow him to transfer. He often lamented over not being allowed to become a pilot.
The 893rd shipped out from the New York port, on January 9, 1944, and arrived in Liverpool, England, on the 20th. After some additional training and preparations, they landed at Utah Beach, on July 1st, equipped with M10s.
The unit was committed to battle in the vicinity of St. Jean de Daye, and advanced to Paris by August 25th. They proceeded to the Siegfried Line in the Schnee Eifel and fought in the Hürtgen Forest in November. They were in support of the 28th Infantry Division’s disastrous assault on Schmidt and remained there when the division was replaced. They continued to hold defensive positions through January, 1945.
The 893rd then supported the 78th Infantry Division’s capture of the Roer River dams in February, 1945, and participated in the offensive across the Roer toward the Rhine River. They crossed the Rhine at Remagen on March 7th and supported the attack northward to the Sieg River and subsequent operations against the Ruhr Pocket in April. The unit received credit for the campaigns of Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. Stephen left the service at the rank of Technician 5th Grade.
Stephen returned to New York and worked as a construction carpenter. In 1948, he married the former Vera Robertson who was also born in New York. The couple made their home in New York.
Stephen passed away on June 18, 1987, and was buried in the Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton, NY. I want to thank Stephen’s nephew, John, for providing the information and photo for this tribute. John’s father, who was also named John, served during WWII as a Seabee. I also want to thank Thomas, who is a Find-A-Grave contibutor, for the grave marker photo.